8.18.2008

Pet Peeves Of The Week

I can let the occasional typo, incorrectly spelled word, wrong word choice, or grammatical error slide. Really, I can. But, when there’s so many of them that I stop paying attention to the story and put myself on “typo patrol,” this obviously distracts me from the story and subverts the whole intent of the interaction. Of course, I don’t want to pick on any one creator or publisher unduly, but someone or something has to be used as an example, otherwise this will all just amount to hyperbole.

The recent Meathaus: SOS anthology was filled with such mistakes. Now, I’ve been involved with some smaller anthologies from local small press publishers. I know that the role of “editor” is largely the person responsible for lining up the talent to include in the book, then hounding them to get it in on time. In my humble experience, these stalwart souls are often so intensely focused on acquiring pieces, getting the physical parts of the book together, and hitting a self-imposed deadline, that a crucial step can be missed. Nobody ever actually sits down and reads the work, as in proofreads the content. I’m not sure if that’s what occurred here, but here’s my open letter incorporating all the detritus I could find.

Dear Meathaus: SOS, in order for your book to be accepted (not “excepted”) critically, one must realize that a primary component is dependent (not “dependant”) on spelling words like murderers (not “murders”) and petal (not “pedal”) correctly. Other creators have far fewer mistakes in their anthologies, their (not “they’re”) works don’t make me feel like having to take vicodin (not “vicadin”) in order to overcome the insouciance. So, here’s (not “hear’s”) to proofreading!

Some of these typos were so egregious that I just couldn’t stand it. They’re vs. their vs. there is a fairly common mistake, but c’mon, this one was on the inside flap of the cover! Hear vs. here? C’mon! That’s two completely different words with different meanings! Unless my name is "here" and something belongs to me, what in the fuck would "hear's" actually mean anyway?! In one story, the lettering contradicted the art in the very same panel, one contained the name of a business as “Legro,” while the other indicated it was “Logro.” C’mon people, it’s called attention to detail!

Another issue that kills me is lateness. I know that everyone bitches about lateness and that it’s become sort of passé. I know that books will be late. This has become an accepted (I refuse to say unavoidable) conceit of the industry. Usually, if the quality of the work is good enough, this can be forgiven. Unless it’s just laughable, of course. For example, I can wait a couple extra months for All Star Superman, because that book will generally deliver. But, I think what’s laughable and disgusting is the track record of something like say… Planetary. Civil War is a good example; a command decision was made that there would be no fill-in artist and we’d all wait for McNiven to catch up on penciling detail. While I think it was unfortunate he fell behind and wasn’t deeper into the work when it was solicited, I think that this was a smart move, wanting the ultimate collected edition to be a seamless work. I can certainly understand that.

However, when a single publisher or creator is so off track, when the entire line or body of work is plagued by lateness, I just want to throw up my hands and give up. So, as another unlucky example - Transhuman #3 came out last week. It’s been an interesting work, one of Jonathan Hickman’s more interesting pieces of social commentary from Image Comics. I actually went back and re-read all of his recent work and stumbled upon this “schedule” in the back of Pax Romana #2. Now, keep in mind this was in Pax Romana #2, which itself was late. Hickman also takes this opportunity to admit that Red Mass for Mars #1 is going to ship late and offers the following;

March: Pax Romana #2, Transhuman #1
April: Pax Romana #3, Transhuman #2
May: Pax Romana #4, Transhuman #3
June: Transhuman #4, Red Mass For Mars #1
July: Red Mass For Mars #2
August: Red Mass For Mars #3
September: Red Mass For Mars #4

Without getting into the how or why, just by taking a cursory look at this we can tell that Pax Romana #3, Transhuman #2, Pax Romana #4, Transhuman #3, Transhuman #4, Red Mass For Mars #2 didn’t happen, and (assumably, since issue two isn’t out yet) Red Mass for Mars #3 and Red Mass For Mars #4 won’t happen as stated either. This quick list comprises 8 of 11, or 73% of the issues that have not, or will not, ship on time, even on the tepid, adjusted, delayed schedule. At the time of this writing in mid-August, 5 of the 11 titles, a little less than half, are still not out, with as much as a four month delay (Pax Romana #3). True, in the long run, this won’t hamper the collected versions, but that’s assuming anyone is still around and interested. At three or four months in between issues, I can’t remember the story. If I can’t remember the story, chances are it will be hard to enjoy. If I’m not enjoying it, I’ll ask myself why am I buying it? And if I’m not buying the single issues, and my only recollection of the project is that it’s chronically late, I’m probably not going to reward the book by purchasing the inevitable trade, regardless of how interesting the creator's voice is.

It’s hard enough to navigate your way in this market, the least you can do is respect the handful of readers you have, allowing yourself every possible chance of success, by building consistent momentum and sustaining reader interest. Hickman states “In regard to delays: they were primarily due to getting ahead and revisions to the publishing schedule.” Umm, what? So the delays occurred because you were… ahead? The only way I can understand this type of being “ahead” is if either a) the entire project is in the can and you delayed the release date because your market analysis tells you there will be more buzz or opportunity at X time of year or b) the first couple issues of the run are done and #1 hasn’t come out yet. Picking your time to strike is fine. Where this falls apart is when one or two issues are already out, then we experience a multi-month delay. If the series has already started, how would “getting ahead” on follow up issues and then delaying their release by months make any sort of sense whatsoever? If you’re ahead, then just get them out monthly and deliver on your original intent. Publishing revisions (read: delays) in the middle of a mini-series rarely make sense, especially if your stated explanation is because you’re ahead? This certainly gives the impression that you’re actually on, or ahead, of schedule and just sitting on them for no apparent reason. Color me confused.

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