Q: Is it possible to get your book, The Mad Art of Caricature, in Spanish?
A: I’ve gotten this question several times asking about getting the book in Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, etc. The folks who ask are always so nice so I hate saying this, but I am afraid the answer is no, not as long as it is self published. I have looked into the feasibility of doing a foreign language edition of the book, and what I have found is that I cannot do it myself, simply because the complexity of the endeavor makes it too expensive and unwieldy to do a translation. I have gotten a few inquiries from foreign publishing houses about acquiring the foreign rights to the book, but none of those have come with an offer to produce the book in another language.
People who think this should be an easy thing don’t understand what it would really involve. First, I’d need to hire someone to translate the book, which sounds easy but it is not. Translating it would be a hard thing to do, because it would take a lot more than just replacing the English text with some other language. The book is full of detailed descriptions and explanations of theories and ideas using comparisons, metaphors, anecdotes, and other literary devices that don’t immediately translate. What I’d need to do is find someone who would literally rewrite the book, explaining what I am trying to get across using another language. That would be an enormous undertaking, and to pay someone properly to do it (assuming I could even find someone who could… they’d need to have a pretty good understanding of caricature themselves) would cost a small fortune. Then, I’d have to work with them to redo the layout of the entire book to fit the new text in amid the illustrations, which would be time consuming since the word counts would likely be very different. It would be like starting over, except I’d be redesigning the book using a language I didn’t understand at all. It was hard enough doing it in English… I could not imagine doing that. Finally, I’d need to do have a new printing done of a second version of the book, creating two inventories and storage requirements.
The bottom line is, doing all this with a 225 page book would not be financially viable as a self publisher. If the book was a much simpler thing, smaller and less wordy, it might be feasible. As it is, it’s not. The economics don’t work, not even for a market as big as Spanish.
No, I’m afraid unless a foreign publisher offers to buy the rights to the book from me and does the translation, production, and distribution for me, I don’t see any foreign language editions as possible. Sorry.
Thanks to Juan Pablo Valvo of Sante Fe, Argentina for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here… except for today!