Ryan Holmberg, "The Translator Without Talent: What It's Like Being a Freelance Manga Scholar"

Faculty Talk
Thursday, March 10, 12:00 p.m.

Black and white photo of Ryan Holmberg

While manga and anime boom globally, with top properties becoming household names and the darlings of business and academic theory, life inside the so-called "localization" industry is often not so pretty. This presentation will offer a personal survey of what it's like working as a translator, editor, agent, and scholar inside the English-language manga industry by an ex-art historian.

Ryan Holmberg is an independent art and comics historian, editor, and Japanese-English translator. He is the author of The Translator Without Talent (Bubbles, 2020) and Garo Manga: The First Decade, 1964-1973 (Center for Book Arts, 2010), and is currently finishing a book-length academic manuscript titled No Nukes for Dinner: How One Japanese Cartoonist and His Country Learned to Distrust the Atom. He has contributed numerous essays and reviews about art and comics to The Comics Journal, Artforum International, Art in America, and The New York Review. A Spanish selection of his writings will be published as Gekiga: Essays on Japanese Comics (Satori Ediciones, 2021).

Ryan has worked with numerous museums and arts organizations on exhibition catalogs, curatorial essays, and year-end reviews. He is also co-translator of No Nukes Asia, Japan’s The People of Asia Say No to Nuclear Power (Yoda Press, 2019).

Ryan has taught courses about Japanese, Asian, and Modern/Contemporary art and culture at numerous schools, including the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Duke University, and the University of Tokyo, in both English and Japanese.