Freelance Translator

Romina from ProZ interviews Alejandro Moreno-Ramos, freelance translator and creator of Mox’s blog.

Do you know Mox? He is one of the main characters in Mox’s blog, a blog with hilarious cartoons depicting the life of a not very successful freelance translator. Mox’s blog is a creation by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos, a Certified PRO full-time translator from English and French into Spanish.

This week I interviewed Alejandro to learn more about Mox’s world and to know what the creator of the funniest cartoon about translation ever thinks of his characters and the popularity they have gained among translators.

Here is the interview with Alejandro.


1. How did you come up with the idea of starting a blog combining cartoons and humor depicting the life of a freelance translator?

Excuse me, humor? Where did you see any humor in my blog? I only depict the real life of a translator. In fact, readers often complain that the translator’s life is far crazier than Mox’s.

I got the idea for the cartoons from my wife. One day I saw her laughing at some silly cartoons related to her profession as a school teacher. In my opinion, the cartoons were kind of boring.
– “That’s not funny”, I told her.
– “But it’s soooo true”, she replied. “You should come up with a comic strip about translators. Your geeky colleagues would love it.”, she added.
– “But I’m not funny and I can’t draw”, I argued.
– “So what? Just draw stick figures and don’t try to be funny or you’ll definitely mess it up”.

She was right about everything.

2.- Mox’s blog also features other characters who represent the different players in the translation chain? Tell me a little about them, for example, were they all created at the same time? Do you have any favourite characters? Which is the most popular character among Mox’s blog fans?

To be honest, I don’t believe I’ve created any characters. I just discovered them and gave them a voice.

For example, there is Bill, the ignorant direct client who keeps asking for quotes without specifying the number of words, and who expects delivery of a 200-page translation in 24 hours.

I don’t know who’s the most popular character in the blog, but Pam is certainly the one who is most despised. She is a Project Manager at a translation agency. She’s as evil as you can imagine, and enjoys inventing new techniques for turning freelance translators into slave labor.

By the way, did you know that there is a secret worldwide plot to destroy the translation sector and condemn translators to a life of misery? Few people know about this. “Mefisto” is their leader and these people are the evil force behind nightmares such as Google Translate.

My personal hero is Calvo, the senior translator who once was a young, naive translator, but who woke up to the real world and turned to the dark side when he discovered that a translation agency charged their clients 20 times more than they paid him. I wish I were more like Calvo and less like Mox.

3. What is the general reaction from your readers and why do you think they like your blog so much?

Freelance translation is a great profession but it can have its drawbacks. One of them is the lack of personal contact. How can you complain about or criticize your customers/coworkers/suppliers if you don’t speak to anyone during the day? Examples of this can be seen on forums, where translators are often just looking for some empathy or a means of unburdening themselves.

Mox has proved to be a good companion for translators. The feeling that many express when they visit the blog for the first time is “I’m not alone!”.

4. Mox also has a book now. What will readers find in this book, how long did you work on it and how has the experience been for you so far? 

Basically, readers have to pay EUR 19.95 for a book which contains what is already available for free on the blog.

No, seriously, I’ve spent months of my life working on this book. Most of the content is previously unpublished, there are more than 100 new cartoons. Also, I tricked the, in my opinion, 13 best translator bloggers to each write an article for the book. These articles are truly amazing and, I believe, the best part of the book.

The feedback has been very good and Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation has become a popular Christmas gift. Also, something that makes me especially proud, a number of university professors have contacted me because they want to use Mox’s book on their translation courses to prepare students for “real life”.

5. What are your plans for the future? Would you like to become a full-time cartoonist?

A full-time cartoonist? I am not sure about that… I already struggle to explain to people that I do have a job, that freelance translation is a real and noble profession.

In any case, I’ll give you an exclusive right here. So far, sales of the book have been so good that I’m already planning a new Mox book, which is due to come out at the end of 2012.

Mox’ book can also be found in books section. You can follow Mox on Twitter @Mox_Translator and on Facebook.

For feedback and suggestions, you can contact me at [email protected].

Best wishes to all!