Q: How does the concept of intellectual property rights work in the world of comics?
Mirko: A really fascinating concept, I wrote a book regarding these with my colleague, because comics are really a strange field, from his point of view because in comics, you have a very strong presence of authors. Because, an author has his personality, and the author’s name is like a trademark because, you read the books by these specific authors and at the same time, comics have also have a field of characters and series of where you can have the same characters and by many authors. That can be exchanged and revamped, so in some sections you have individuality and in others you have production, where the author is not so important, and in the case of Italian comics it was fascinating to find that you can find many people – complete authors especially – proud of their work and at the same time were proud to be just artisans to work on characters created by others, the Disney characters for example.
Q: How are the new computing technologies related to human languages?
Mirko: Well, in a variety of ways. The most interesting for me is automatic translation, because automatic translation right now is already good enough to be used in practical purposes. I work in this field since the end of 80’s, and that time automatic translation was not working, not at all. But today it is working, you can use it for practical purposes, and it is really a good way of managing some kinds of interactions. It is a real useful tool and I am doing research on the actual use of automatic translation into Italian to understand it a bit better the ways the things are going.
Q: The graphic novels are expensive, and most people aren’t able to purchase them for that reason, so most of these novels are subject to piracy and they can be easily downloaded illegally from online websites, what is your view on this and how can it be stopped?
Mirko: I think it’s mainly a matter of publishing standards because for example, in Italy, comics were a very important part of the cultural life, and they were also cheap. Even a good product can be sold to a wide audience in a cheap format. Italian comics were traditionally comics printed in black and white and in small format. So I don’t think it is a necessity to have graphic novels as expensive items. I think it is mainly an issue of having a good publishing formula of this kind of books. Many of the best works of Italian comics were designed and presented presented for a very popular kind of price.
Interview by Ahona Das