There you have it, the History of Scanlation! We hope you enjoyed your time here and learned something new. The goal of this project is to chronicle the history of fan translation and scanlation from pre-1996 to today. In addition, the project looks at a number of influential scanlation groups and websites throughout the years, as well as interesting trends, background information, and interviews for context.
Why all this work? Scanlation is a huge part of the online manga landscape. Search for "manga" on Google, and more than half of the first page results are related to scanlation in one way or another. Despite its widespread popularity, scanlation is almost never a topic of mainstream coverage or study. Most articles on scanlation come from the community itself, leaving the general public out of the "know." The goal of this project is to provide a comprehensive overview of scanlation, its history, groups, trends, and more, for those who wish to learn more about a side of manga that is rarely talked about.
This project was originally conceived back in 2006 while brainstorming for a "History of Manga Jouhou" feature. Although the idea never took off, traces of it still exist in the pages of the History of Scanlation articles (The Manga Jouhou spotlight feature, for instance, is significantly longer than the other spotlights, and the interview with Manga Jouhou's Deathscythe was completed years ago).
The original plan was to first put together a History of Jouhou feature similar to ComiPress's Backstage, gradually expand it to include other major scanlation groups, and later compile everything into a History of Scanlation. After History of Jouhou fell through, things stayed quiet for a while. Around mid-2007, the Jouhou/History of Scanlation idea was discussed with Omanga's Zyph. Zyph expressed his interest in the project and offered his support. The idea of dividing the History into three sections was already in place at the time, and Zyph provided a huge amount of valuable information that later helped jump-start the project.
For the next two years things were put on the backburner. When May 2009 rolled around, it had become apparent that the scanlation community was quickly changing, groups and individuals were disappearing one after another, and newer groups and communities were created to fill the void left behind. In early June of that year, a draft of the first part of the History section was written, motivated by a desire to complete an unfinished project, as well as to create something to bring nostalgia to the old-timers and show the new generation what had come before them.
Since then, the project took on a life of its own. The original intent was to have a three-part History, a Spotlight section that featured eight to nine influential groups and websites, a Background section with two or three articles on popular trends, and some interviews with whoever was still active at the time. As work went on, the project grew way beyond what was initially planned, for the better, of course. The site was originally supposed to launch in July, the date was pushed back to August, and later September. There were many delays, but the final product was well worth the extra time and effort.
The History section is the most important part of the site. Drafts of all three sections were completed well before the end of June, but grew in size as days went by. By the end of September, all three sections had grown by two to three times their original size. Sometimes interviewing a certain person or researching an old groups would uncover a whole new facet of scanlation that required further research. The History and Spotlight sections were the most enjoyable to work on (aside from designing the website and randomly chatting with scanlation-related individuals on IRC).
Regarding the Spotlight articles: The number of groups covered almost tripled over the span of several months (the original lineup included Manga Jouhou, Toriyama's World, MangaProject, MangaScreener, ShoujoMagic, DailyManga, MangaUpdates, Lurk, and MangaHelpers). It should be noted that many newer groups were were left out because one of our main goals was to provide an accurate history of what has been, many of the newer groups are still in the middle of their "current history," and writing about them without knowing the bigger picture can be difficult (additionally, sometimes there just isn't much to write about since they haven't been around as long). If follow-up articles are added in the future, rest assured that these new groups will be added to the Spotlight lineup.
As for the Background articles, the content grew from simple information about Tazmo and the IRC Migration to cover a slew of trends and incidents, many of which were added after additional insight from interviews and research. A few topics weren left out, however, due to a lack of time and resource. Will they ever see the light of day? We may never know...
On to the Interviews: The interviews are one of the most interesting additions to this project. Through the interviews, I met many, many scanlators, some of whom are legends in the scanlation world. Of course, scanlators are people too, and some are busier with their lives than others. Not everyone was able to get back to us with their response in time. If you are one of them, keep in mind that you can send in your response any time, we will update the site accordingly. MangaHelpers and MangaUpdates were the first to be interviewed. The interview session with MangaUpdates was one of the most grueling, stretching over five hours (9pm–2:30am) on IRC. Compiling and formatting the IRC log into a document was equally brutal, and the interview ended up being excruciatingly long by the time it had to be proofread (multiple times). It is, however, one of the most in-depth interviews on the site.
Thanks to MangaUpdates's Manick, vio55555 got involved with the project and contributed a large amount of content, and also played an integral role in reaching out to other scanlators, see the credits section for more information. As for the interviews, Snoopy's interview was one of the most interesting (especially with Snoopy's essay responses), Robb's interview was one of the most fun to read. In one instance, we practically had to fill in the responses for a certain indivual whose name shall be omitted (don't worry, the words are still from that individual, compiled from chat logs from over a period of several months). Also, it was a great honor and a pleasant surprise to interview figures from the industry, from companies such as Tokyopop and Icarus Publishing, and Jason Thompson.
The purpose of this project is to document the history of scanlation. It is meant to be a resource that anyone can use to find the information they need. We hope you enjoyed it.
Thank you for reading!
This project would not be what it is without other's help. Below is a list of those who have contributed in one way or another, thank you all for helping!
- Jonathan Head - One of the few proofreaders who answered our call for help and helped proofread many Spotlight articles.
- Steven LeCroy - Without Steven, the main History articles wouldn't be nearly as good. The project's main proofreader, and likely our most valuable proofreader.
- p00kie - Although we never ended up using the parts you helped proofread (guess we all didn't keep a backup of it!), thanks for the effort!
- Lorena Ruggero - Our first proofreader and someone who's been with us (as proofreader for another website) for several years.
- Snewcee - Thanks for proofreading the few Background articles!
- vio55555 - Not only was vio55555 one of the most important contributors to the content, he also helped proofreading part 2 and 3 of the history, thanks a lot!
- Linda Yau - Another proofreader who answered our call for help, thanks for proofreading the Spotlight and Background articles.
- AK of Troy - It was a great surprise to get a response from AK of Troy, considering how long he's been out of the scene. Thanks a lot for the interview!
- BadAndy - We're still waiting for that interview!
- barbapapa - Thanks a lot for the interview, as well as getting us in touch with ocean.
- BigVinny - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Binky - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Bionic-Badger - Thanks for the helpful inputs on the early days of scanlation, as well as those tidbits on MangaProjects.
- cccnnn - Thanks for the super-late-night interview!
- Chara - Thanks a lot for the interview, feel free to send those follow-up questions over any time.
- cnet128 - Thanks for responding to the interview request, and for the super long responses.
- Cosmos - Thanks for getting us in touch with Snoopy.
- darkshard - We were so lucky to be able to reach you after so many years have passed since Mangascans disbanded, great thanks for all the help!
- Deathscythe - Hope you enjoy the interview and the article on MJ, despite the fact it was done many years ago.
- dink - Probably the person most excited about this project, hope you enjoy it!
- DiSpy - Thanks for the information on Streamload, stil waiting for that interview!
- Edward - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- elvisrules - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Firedog - Thanks for the interview!
- Floating_Sakura - Thanks for getting us back in touch with iansmith and Zyph, still waiting for that Techniques article!
- FuguTabetai - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Gari - Big thanks for the interview!
- Greg - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- GGpX - Thanks a lot for the interview as well as the inputs on the modern scanlation scene.
- Griffisu - It was a surprise to hear from you, thanks a lot for all the help and the interview.
- HisshouBuraiKen - Big thanks for the interview, and don't worry, you weren't late.
- iansmith - Thanks for the inputs on MangaScreener, and we're still waiting on that interview! You can send it over any time.
- immi - Big thanks for all the help, as well as getting us in touch with MiMi.
- Infornography - Another great contributor, thanks a lot for all the help!
- Janice - Thanks for all the help!
- JoJo - 谢谢啦!
- jojo_da_crow - We put out a bear trap for jojo, but have yet to catch her...
- kAi - Thanks for the interview!
- kal- - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Kalendel - Thanks a lot for the interview, as well as pointing out all those mistakes.
- Kevin Shiel - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Kuwa-Jiji - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Lacaille - Thanks for the interview, we're still waiting for those follow-up questions!
- Latin_D - Again, thanks for the interview.
- lambchopsil - Big thanks for the interview as well as proofreading the MU interview.
- LazyGamer - Again, thanks for the interview.
- Lenners - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Luchs - Thanks a lot for the interview, as well as those information on Mangasync.
- Manick - Manick was the one to help us get in touch with vio55555, and also one of the first person to accept our interview request.
- Marcy - Thanks a lot for the interview, as well as those "icons"!
- MegKF - Thanks for the interview as well as for all the help on the history sections.
- MiMi - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- njt - Thanks for all the help on the MH information.
- Ookla The Mok - One of the best contributors to work with, always responded to our inquries right away with great details.
- Oren - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- pnyxtr - Thanks a lot for the interview, as well as that long IRC chat on the state of the scanlation scene.
- p00kie - Thanks for the interview, as well as the proofreading that we ended up not using (due to it being accidentally deleted without a backup).
- Protected - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- relentlessflame - This is getting a bit repetitive, but thanks for the interview!
- Robb - Big thanks for the extremely-enjoyable interview.
- rp - Thanks for all the help and the interview.
- Satoshi - Thanks for the interview!
- SHADE - Thanks for providing the information on early translation projects.
- SileNTReApR - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- Snoopy - Despite being on vacation, Snoopy still managed to respond to our interview request with essay-responses. Also thanks a lot for the information on Studio Robb and RMT.
- Space Coyote - Big thanks for the interview!
- Spaceman-Spiff - Big thanks for the interview, all the input, and reaching Tsubasa for us.
- Spamdini - Thanks for the interview, and getting us in touch with Space Coyote.
- Stalyn - Thanks for giving us the information on Lurk's number of visitors.
- Starakin- Big, big help, not only did Starakin responded to our interview request, he also provided valuable information on the early days of scanlation, as well as groups such as Dual Translations.
- Suyura - Thanks for helping out with looking over the interview format.
- takadanama - Thanks for the interview!
- Tsubasa - We're lucky to have been able to reach you as well, thanks for all the help!
- Vanderguard - Thanks for the interview :)
- Vaz - Big thanks for the interview and all the information, as well as getting us in touch with Griffisu.
- VicariousLurker - Thanks for the information on Lurk... we're still waiting for that interview!
- vio55555 - Without vio55555, a lot of the interviews and information in this project would not have been possible. Not only did vio55555 contribute tons of information to the second and third part of the history, but he also helped get us in touch with many individuals in the community.
- vvhime - Thanks a lot for the interview!
- WarDrake - Thanks for the interview, as well as giving us information on the scanlation scene.
- Woofcat - Thanks for providing information on the current scanlation scene, as well as helping us get in contact with Binky.
- xX_bLuE - Thanks for giving input on the Korean manhwa scanlation scene.
- Yukimura - Thanks for getting us in touch with kAi.
- ZlleH - Big thanks for the interview, as well as the information on early history as well as Mangascans and MangaProject (among other things).
- Zyph - One of the first person to hear about and give support this project. Helped out with a lot of the early history, including some of the information on Spamdini.
- Dylan & Harley Acres - Thanks for helping out with those Takahashi-related questions, and for helping locating that Ranma image!
- Isaac Alexander - Thanks for all the help, as well as helping us reach the other industry-related people (even if indirectly).
- Carl Horn - Although an interview was not possible, thanks for the input as someone from the industry!
- Simon Jones - Great thanks to Simon for being one of the few publishers who answered our interview inquiry.
- Stu Levy - Although we weren't able to directly interview Levy... it was still a great honor to have him notice and respond to our request (even if it's through his assistant).
- Marco Pavia - Thanks a lot for taking the time to be interviewed by us!
- Mayumi Takahashi - Thanks a lot for setting up the interview with Tokyopop.
- John Thomas - Thanks for helping out with the email contact.
- Jason Thompson - It was a great honor to have Jason Thompson accepting our interview request, also thanks a lot for helping us reaching out to others.