Dark Horse’s Patrick Thorpe On Zelda, Translation, And The Hyrule Historia

Senior Contributor
01.31.13 3 Comments

Today Nintendo fans will be getting a rare look inside the gaming giant’s history. Nintendo and Dark Horse have collaborated to translate and publish the Hyrule Historia, an extensive look at the history of the Legend of Zelda franchise across more than two decades of gaming.

Nintendo opened the vaults and has packed the book with treasures ranging from early concept art for the game to detailed looks at how each game in the series was developed. But getting there wasn’t a simple task. We sat down with Patrick Thorpe, who edited the whole undertaking, and talked about the difficulties and rewards of such a unique project.

GammaSquad: How did Dark Horse start working with Nintendo on the Hyrule Historia?

Patrick Thorpe: Nintendo is a company that we have been wanting to work with for a very, very long time. We’ve been in contact for years, and have actually been back and forth on a number of ideas. The timing had never been right for us to do a project together until about a year ago when they contacted us to see if we were interested in doing a localization of the Hyrule Historia.

GammaSquad: Dark Horse has a long, long history bringing manga to the West, of course, so how does a translation typically start?

Thorpe: Dark Horse has been working with some of the best translators in the business for years. For this book, I wanted to make sure that the translators that we worked with were both top notch, and had a familiarity with the Zelda franchise. This book is so dense with game-specific information that I wanted to make sure that everything was accurate.

GammaSquad: Did the translation present any unique challenges in the course of the work?

Thorpe: Actually, yes. The turn-around time on this book was extremely short for the amount of translation, density of information, and amount of fact checking [we had to do]. We had so much material that we had to break up the book into six sections, one for each translator, and have them work concurrently.

Generally you have one translator throughout an entire work. That gives the book a unified voice. In this case, since there were six translators, and our proofreader Annie Gullion and myself pulled double duty and did a lot of copy editing to make sure that the voice in the book was consistent. 

GammaSquad: Did Nintendo leave you to your own devices, or work closely with you?

Thorpe: Working with the professionals at Nintendo was one of the better experiences I’ve ever had working on a licensed book. They let us do what we do best, make art books, and at the same time approved and fact checked everything to make sure that it was up to their very high standards. The end result is a book we are all very proud of.

GammaSquad: What surprises can Zelda fans expect to find while going through the book?

Thorpe: One thing that was fascinating to me was finding out just how interconnected the games really are. There are so many motifs and easter eggs hidden in the games for the observant gamer to find. I’ve played every Zelda game ever made and was very surprised at how many details I had missed during my playthroughs.

GammaSquad: Any recommendations for what fans should look for first?
Thorpe: Oh, man. That depends on what kind of fan you are! If you are a newer fan, the first section is entirely dedicated to the art and production of Skyward Sword. There are notes from the creators and absolutely beautiful pieces of art.

If you are an old school gamer, the Miyamoto and Aonuma essays as well as the Creative Footprints section are for you. They all deal with the creation of the Zelda series from the beginning until today.

Fans of the whole series are going to want to read the section The History of Hyrule to get the entire history of the series, chronologically. Manga fans are going to love the Skyward Sword prequel manga in the back of the book by Akira Himekawa. It’s stunning, and explains a lot about the mythology of theZelda series. There is seriously something in this book for every kind of Zelda fan. 

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