I enjoy having people take snapshots from the comic. It’s like they grab a particular viewpoint as their own. The shots often feel—to me at least—like someone’s vacation pictures of a theme park ride.
I think this is the third time that someone’s translated that opening line into French. If someone is interested in taking a stab at translating the whole thing it would be fun to make a bunch of different Lobos in a bunch of different languages! Spanish, French and Serbian would be the obvious early translation candidates.
For the time that I have been toying with the idea of translating Hobo Lobo, it took me forever to concede that there would be any benefit to translating it into Serbian. My reasoning there was that the flavor or the imagery don’t really speak to the Serbian context. The Fascist-Calvinist Progressive party being challenged from the right may require even a more educated Serbian reader attuned to current events in the West to stop for a few beats of reflection before they got what that means (what it means in practice, as opposed to historically—there is slightly more nuance to how I’m using Fascism and Calvinism than a straightforward reference to religious/political movements—which is how it would be interpreted). It is very much a tale for Western eyes, about the US, made in the US.
And yet people from outside any Eastern European context keep bringing up possible connections. A former professor somewhat offhandedly put me in the same category as Kafka, Gogol, Bulgakov—as, you know, one of those Eastern European writers with a penchant for dark humor or something like that. Another friend whose work has him following the Hague Tribunal proceedings, asked me if the resemblance of the Mayor to Vojislav Šešelj was intentional.
Boy, Kafka! What in the hell. How does one respond upon being grouped with Kafka? But yeah, I did grow up surrounded by a very potent tradition of dark humor, and I am from there, writing over here in a non-native language, or whatever… so the comparison is not totally unfair even though it feels false to my sense of impartiality. And while Šešelj totes looks like the mayor, he was not a conscious inspiration. Mayor Dick Mayor is supposed to resemble someone else entirely—but that someone else could in part fit my subconscious notion of a quintessential chauvinist demagogue due to resembling Šešelj. I did totes steal the dude’s glasses, completely unconsciously…
And in the end, it is an old fairy tale I am retelling. I am retelling it for the modern context and the scale at which it speaks is global, the Marketplace of Ideas knows no borders and whatnot. I guess for international readers, it does shed light on what it feels like to be inside the US, observing its political process/scene from within. So there is a point to it in translation as well. I should feel free to translate it into whatever!