Manga creator Shuho Sato has certainly done his best to shake up the Japanese publishing industry; not only did he take his Say Hello to Black Jack online, he started up a website (in Japanese) for other creators to post their work as well.
How’s that working out? About as well as webcomics always do, which is to say, there’s a sharp divide between the top dog and everyone else. Sato expects to take in over 1 million yen (around $12,000) from the site this month, which is a significant milestone; however, he says the other creators on the site are only making around $100 per month.
And despite all the money Sato is raking in, he can’t afford to hire help, so he is looking for volunteer translators to render his work into English. As a sort of audition, he posted the first chapter of Say Hello to Black Jack to his Twitpic account and invited people to send in their translations. Looking down the comments string is like watching a game of Telephone; the translations all contain the same basic elements but they are mixed and matched and misspelled in different ways. Hard as it is to believe, skilled translators don’t seem to be flocking to give away their work for free.
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