And With No Side-Effects...That We Know Of As Yet.

I knew from the start that I would in some way benefit by becoming Saigami's proofreader. Originally the idea had been that I could use the practice and experiment with my own editing skills. And I have learned many things in that respect, but there has been so much more than just this.

A natural assumption with proofreading for somebody whose primary language isn't English is that your edits would be many and major. Seny is too good for that. Besides the occasional tense or plural error, her sentences are fantastic. With maybe one exception (on a particularly busy week for her, to be fair) I've never had a sentence that reads like it came from Google translate. This frees time for studying word choice. 

Never before have I had to examine the English language in this way. Words I would have added without a second thought weren't the words Seny opted to use, and when I wanted to plug them in, I first had to answer why. And when you start asking why you prefer one word over another, although they mean the same thing, you can't help but start questioning other things about the English language.

It has also helped shatter my world view. I grew up in a smallish town, and though I was aware of other countries, they seemed as distant as the world of a fantasy novel. Working with Seny has not only shattered this view, but continues even now.

Some of us get views of sunset-lit parking lots from our breakrooms. Others get historic walls.

There were things I expected us to have in common. Comics, obviously, and it's easy to find manga on the internet if you know where to look. That we would like some of the same series wasn't that unexpected. But then we found that we had bands in common. Movies, books, even television shows. I went from being hesitant about an interest assuming it would be unknown in Hungary, to talking about anything and just assuming she would know what I was talking about. 

Hungary has started to feel like a place I could get to just by crossing the street. It has its own history, its own holidays, its own views, but at the same time it's almost a mirror. It doesn't show a perfect reflection of myself, but neither is it warped like a funhouse mirror.

The earth is awfully small for something so big.

I am an aspiring writer living in Ottawa, Canada, and the proofreader for the web-comic Saigami.


Getting The Boring Out Of The way

Sample page of Saigami. Click for full size.

Typically once every two weeks I will receive somewhere between seven and nine pages from Seny for me to proof. Usually these pages are done, but sometimes she has to sleep, or eat, or any one of the millions of things people need to survive, and I get them in a state of incompleteness. Exactly how long Seny takes on each page is something I don't know, but I've read that it takes most professionals around ten hours to go from nothing to a finished page. She also works every other day at a hotel for 24-hour shifts; that she’s able to find roughly 70 hours to draw is amazing.



Who needs exciting pictures? Click for full size

I have a folder dedicated exclusively to Saigami. For the most part, it’s a dumping ground for all the pages I get. The pages are sorted by chapter for convenience. I have a Word document for proofs and another as a character bible that I build upon each time a character is introduced. Right now there’s not many, but soon I’m expecting to make multiple bibles, depending on character importance or role. In the future I plan to include locations, and I've been considering a Saigami style guide. Right now there’s not a lot of terms specific to Saigami, so a style guide isn't a priority.


Because what better way to break up text than with a picture of text? Click for full size

All of the Seny’s text, except sound effects, is then copied into Word, mistakes and all. Word has been an extremely convenient tool for me with its review tools. During the earlier days, I didn't know how to use them and I basically had to write the original line, the edited line, and any comments I had into each and every email I sent. At worst, this could take hours by itself, never mind that we were swapping letters long enough to set records. Now all of my corrections and edits are highlighted in red and I can comment as I edit instead of after. The only drawback is that tracked changes follow with the lines even after they’re copied and pasted. Seny is often rushed for time, so it can be tedious making copy/paste friendly lines for her to use. Recent developments have started to fix the tedious. Everything is saved as a PDF and emailed back after I've had a chance to play with things for a couple days.

I am an aspiring writer living in Ottawa, Canada, and the proofreader for the web-comic Saigami.


Saigami: A History

Before getting down to what this blog will be all about, namely my experiences as the proofreader for the web-comic Saigami, I thought some backstory about Saigami and how I came to be its proofreader would be necessary.

The Flag of Hungary

The Flag of Hungary

Saigami is the story about a young woman named Ayumi, who finds herself transported into another world and must find the strength hidden within herself if she is ever to find her way home. The creator of this web-comic, the ever talented Seny, lives in Hungary and has had two short comics published within her own home country. Over the years Saigami has grown and evolved. It started with its own webpage, moved on to YouTube, and finally moved on to web-comic aggregator websites such as Inkblazers, then known as Mangamagazine, and Smackjeeves. These days you can only find it published in the web-comics anthology magazine Saturday AM.

It was on Inkblazers that we first met. I had stumbled upon Saigami purely by chance, and even with less than a full chapter available, I had fallen in love. The website notifies its creators whenever somebody favourites their works, and Seny thanked me for mine. Inkblazers was a website I wanted to be a part of, so I replied to Seny’s comment, listing the things I liked, and the one thing I didn’t: that her grammar wasn’t perfect. Given that English isn’t her first language, her level of fluency was still rather amazing.

At the time I hadn’t expected anything to become of this. I’ve said this same thing before with other web-comics, and it’s usually acknowledged and that’s all. However Seny offered the thought that maybe she should look for a proofreader, and I, in an incredible break from character, offered my services, as meager as they were and still are. And the rest is history.

This has been one of the most exciting and terrifying experiences of my life. In the coming weeks I plan to talk about the challenges I’ve faced and the way I personally have been changed. I’m still not certain about exactly what I’ll be writing, but fingers crossed it will at least be interesting.

I am an aspiring writer living in Ottawa, Canada, and the proofreader for the web-comic Saigami.