WarDrake July 2009

WarDrake has been involved in the scanlation community since around 1999. Throughout the years, WarDrake has helped out numerous scanlation groups, including Manga-Daisuki, which WarDrake currently helps lead.

Please introduce yourself!

WarDrake: Hi, I'm WarDrake, if you already know me, you'll probably know me as The Master Of The Universe, if not, keep that in mind ^_^, I used to work with quite a lot of groups back in the day (most of them dead now), now I run Manga-Daisuki and help out with hosting and general support in a couple of groups that are still active.

You've worked for quite a few groups, could you name some of them? In your opinion, how were those groups different in terms of management, attitude, group culture, group dynamics, etc.?

WarDrake: I've worked with quite a number, Syndicate, Manga-Fiends, Dragon Voice, KMTS, Entropy, MangaProject, SBM, Manga-Zero, OrangeTangerine, those I can think of from the top of my head. Each group had its oddities and particularities. Several of them were composed of staff from several groups merging together to form a new group, so things became mixed and muddy often, that's why I think a lot of groups actually died. Wildly varying opinions and habits between the people running the groups, some would have people assigned to positions group-wise instead of project-wise, some had deadlines, some requested a certain number of chapters every week, month, etc. Some had people work as if they were freelancers mostly, some groups had pools with the stuff that needed to be done and people would just pick tasks at random from it. Really, it was chaos... (I loved it) ^_^ but in its odd way it worked, mostly...

Having worked with many groups...what are some common scanlation techniques or tools employed that most people outside of the "trade" don't know about? Did any particular group's methodology leave a strong impression on you due to their uniqueness or unorthodox ways?

WarDrake: I think it's pretty well known how things work nowadays, editors I believe are the greatest mystery still, most people that hear about burning, cleaning, cloning, curves, redrawing, and typesetting won't really know what is involved in each task. Photoshop and all its tools is of course the second greatest asset to any editor, his will to plow thru the amount of work it takes to get each scan perfectly fixed and ready for release. About making an impression, I'd say Toriyama's World... they set the standard and the bar for Quality releases, many an editor learned from their editors and their guides, I know I did get a lot of help from Ookla's guide when I learned the ropes of the business...

Tell us a bit about Manga-Daisuki, what kind of group is it? How and when was it formed?

WarDrake: MD was originally formed by Ichitaka, Jyo and Synt a little less than 10 years ago, Back in the beginning, Ichitake ran the group itself with Jyo and Synt took care of the background stuffs, we had quite a number of celebrities in the staff ^^ and mostly we worked on shonen with a couple of shoujo on the side, I joined the group sometime in 2001, back then the staff was active almost 24/7, it was crazy. If you were active back then, you might remember some of the most amusing and chaotic OpWars ever ^_^, that was at the core of MD always, having fun with what we did.

When you were first introduced to the scanlation community, what was it like? How is it different from the scanlation scene in 2009?

WarDrake: People in the Group Channels now think they have rights... would you believe it??? ^_^ Back then it was a bit more touch and go, there were no fancy XDCC bots ^^ you had to learn to play with the fserves, lots of fserves to choose from, slow connections and unending queues... HAHAHAHA!! if you wanted manga you had to work for it ^_^

The HTTP downloads were all the rage back then ^^ save yourself the queue, I remember Toriyama's World being one of the biggest groups back then, their webpage holding all their downloads was all the rage ^_^

We didn't really care much for copyrights either, I can't remember anyone getting a complaint about it back then, and I'm sure that would have stuck with me, the trends themselves were pretty much the same as now, a team of 3 to 6 people worked on each project, translators were MUCH MUCH easier to come by, the scans tho as you can imagine were no challenge for the ones we have now, but everyone did their best.

IRC played an important role in the early days of scanlation... tell us a bit more about the "old ways" of IRC and how it affected the evolution of scanlation.

WarDrake: I think that IRC didn't make it easy, teaching people to get files was difficult, as it's not the most user-friendly system you'll find around, but again, people made it fun, we didn't have superchannels back then *cough*#lurk*cough* and we still did ok :P it was a symbiotic relationship, groups liked having their readers arround in the channel, and the people loved watching all the weird people that would actually spend their time scanlating for no good reason at all, other than to freely provide us all with it, and there were a good number of them. We had it all, those who deserved medals to their high ideals, the power crazed maniacs, the high and mighty, the channel pets, of course, could not be missing, there was even romance in the air, I can remember a couple of couples that met each other in manga channels. All in all, I'd say IRC was the cornerstone of the current scanlation scene, it might not have been the easiest system, but it was the better suited to do it, besides, it becomes a habit when you do it long enough ^^

Throughout its life, did Manga-Daisuki ever run into any major obstacles?

WarDrake: We never had the kind of issues some of the groups have now, lawyers and corporates seemed be largely unaware of us. We had a pretty smooth ride most of the time, you know, the usual, staff screaming at each other, editors being late, translators taking ages to send the trans, project coordinators rippin their hair off, QCs returning endless lists with defects on them. ^_^ No, I think MD's biggest roadblock is life, people get busy, real life catches up to them, the staff, little by little, started to go their own separate ways and contribute less and less to the group. Now it's only a very small group of people that still do some work, and even then it takes forever, but we are glad and thankful to all the people who ever worked with us and provided us with their time expecting nothing in return for it.

In your opinion, what was Manga-Daisuki's most popular or influential project? How was Manga-Daisuki generally received by the community?

WarDrake: We've had a couple of Flag Projects ^_^ Racaille Blues, City Hunter, Minto Na Bokura, Shoot!, >Katsu I guess it all depends on when do you look at MD's history, it's been a long time.

We were always well-received, as I said a while ago, we had all kinds of people, name your freak and you could prolly find someone who'd provide it in MD's staff ^^ to this day, with places like MangaUpdates marking us as a dead group, we still get requests for release dates, both through the IRC channel and our webpage in case anyone is interested in getting some of our old stuff.

Any particular staff not present whom you'd like to mention?

WarDrake: @_@ we owe a lot to a lot of people... A-Skybolt, Desmond, Ichitaka, Infornography, Kal-, Fang-, Kuwabara (Kuwa-jiji), Synt, Jyo, Oro_^o^, Kawaii, Spaceman-Spiff, Amber, Eagle1813, Edward, etc, etc, etc... It's a HUGE list.

How was Manga-Daisuki run? How was the group organized? How did it go about scanlating a chapter of manga?

WarDrake: We had a project coordinator, for each project (whoever came up with the idea of doing it in the first place), 1 or 2 editors working on it, we had a set of translators working on everything together. It was rare to have a translator dedicated to a single project, and a set of QCs checking everything as well. We used to buy manga and scan it ourselves mostly, especially for the flag projects, but if the project manager managed to get his hands on scans in some other way, all the better.

Nowadays, we have our dump with all the raws (we have lots), and when someone has time to work on something, they get it from there and play with it and upload it. This leads to a bit of a complication in releases, since sometimes we have chapters ready for release but the previous ones are still raws, but with our current shortage of staff, it's a miracle we still release anything at all every now and then.

What's the current state of Manga-Daisuki? Any plans for the future?

WarDrake: Alive but barely, we plan on surviving! ^_^ We plan to continue releasing as we are able to, limited human resources, but the will is there, so we're in for the long run ^_^

Throughout your scanlation career, what were some of the most memorable events/incidents? Mind sharing some stories with the readers?

WarDrake: A TRUE OpWar! Man I miss those... without the scripts or people whining about spam and/or collateral damage :P, a fun free for all kickban fest ^_^ I really miss those ^_^ : back in those days, the IRC servers lacked many of the functions they have now, for example, any half op could kick and ban any op on the chan, we had somewhere around 10 to 15 ops on at all times and 4 to 8 halfops, and our best weapon was the trusty tab button to complete the name fast enough to get away with the kick before you got booted off the chan, again ^^ half the times you'd end up booting civilians and spectators alive just cuz someone stole your kill half a second before you pressed tab ^^ in a channel with 120 people the kicks were pretty random and the reasons never made any sense, especially since people held conversations on the kick messages ^_^ and with 10 to 20 kicks per second going on, you can just imagine the chaos that we had.

Outside of the general chaos we used to cause, there were many things we could say were memorable, I can still remember some of the names I used to call Fang- whenever he would go around scaring the newbies and brandishing his banhammer arround just because he could ^^ HAHAHA!! I remember that at some point we decided to get titles for ourselves, that's where my "Master Of The Universe" phrase comes from, I wasn't allowed to choose mine, I was simply given one "The Bane of Our Existence." I wore that one for over a year ^_^

Our resident High and Mighty, always walk out in the white horse lord and master, Synt ^_^ used to scream at us for using the group's mailing list to comment on whether we had enjoyed last week's show of the Magic Knights Rayearth and how annoying had the bunny thing been according to each of us. But of all the things and people I remember, I have to say, the most memorable thing on IRC I can think of, was falling in love... and all that came with that.

Throughout the years, were there any particular groups or individuals/websites you looked up to or had great respect for? Were there any specific projects or groups you liked to follow?

WarDrake: As I said somewhere above, Toriyama's World was a benchmark for just about any other group, MangaProject always did an awesome job as well, I always held and to this day hold a great respect for Toriyama's World's Ookla, I did learn a lot from him, and for as much as it never really seemed like it, I had a pretty healthy amount of respect for everyone I worked with over the years. Not everyone is willing to donate his time and abilities to something that has no compensation for them, other than the fan's thanks of course, which for anyone who's ever done scanlation is quite enough.

Now about manga, huh... that's a curve right there... I had a FlashCard CFII of 1GB back when the thing was worth $500 (the amazing and absolutely incredible cards you couldn't possibly fill because they had too much storage space :P), and I used it to download manga at university to take it home with me... every day... my manga collection is Humongous. Call it an oddity but being a guy, I always liked shoujo more than shonen, I remember I would camp in MangaProject's channel awaiting the newest chapter of Kimagure Orange Road, or steal the unreleased chapters of Minto Na Bokura from MD's dump, Hanazakari no Kimitachi e, and any number of others...

What do you feel is the current state of the scanlation community? What do you predict the future holds for scanlation?

WarDrake: Sadly, torrents did quite a number on IRC, many people lost the will to keep working because the fans would no longer go to the channels and say hi, instead, they simply await a torrent with the stuff they want, I've got nothing against torrents, but they put a dagger in the scanlation scene, and they twisted it. Though, if it where that simple to stop people from scanlating, it would have been dead long before torrents came to be. I think it will keep moving forward, finding new ways to survive, after all, we are all here, because we love what we do, not because we want to get love from others for it (it's always nice tho).

Thanks for your time! Any last words?

WarDrake: Anytime, last words, hmm... sounds like a last meal ^^ mostly thanx for the interview, it was fun to remember some of the stuff and people from back then ^_^ and of course : Bow to your Lord and Master!