Funnybook Babylon

August 29, 2008

Tough Love: Proofreading

Filed under: Blurbs — Tags: , , , , — Chris Eckert @ 12:23 pm


Computer Lettering is Destroying Proper Usage As We Know It

We live in a fast-paced modern world, full of whirring machines that make everything faster and easier than it was in the old days. In the Old Days, all the lettering in comics had to be hand-written, using complicated pens and plastic strips and you had to be careful about using “FLICKER” or “CLINT” lest the cheap four color printing presses bleed the second and third letters together.

Today, we have COMPUTERS! You can FLICK that guy CLINT all you want, and use crazy Photoshop effects and letter a comic in mere minutes! But the personal touch is lost, which means there are a lot of typos. Typing is faster than hand-lettering, but more physically disconnected — you never hear about write-oes, do you? — but that should leave more time for copyediting, right?

Maybe not. The first and most unfortunate one of these happened about ten years ago, when Comicraft managed to confuse the word “killer” with a similar word, leading Wolverine to call Sabretooth a “kike”. (I didn’t realize it came out on Yom Kippur, that’s amazing!) Since then, computer lettering has blazed a trail of they’re/their, your/you’re, too/to/two and other simple mistakes a spellcheck program won’t immediately pick up.

It also leads to stuff like this:


Someone didn’t pick a font with the proper character set, so “Ãœberfraulein” printed as “<berfraulein”. Ööps!

That’s just one example in a recent rash of Bad Copyediting. This week saw the release of Avengers: The Initiative #16, with a recap page describing Crusader as a “Skrull Ex-Patriot”:


While in last week’s X-Factor: Layla Miller one-shot, Scott Summers tried out a new codename, “Cylcops”:


But all of these boners pale in comparison to next week’s newuniversal: Conqueror (cover courtesy of Midtown Comics):


Conquerer? Really?

This isn’t to say DC is running a tight ship outside of their umlauts. This week’s Justice Society of America makes an odd Freudian slip in describing Big Horned Miracle Makin’ Gog:


“Performing murders”? If that wasn’t a typo, that’d be damn near poetic. Gog and Nice Pete do have similarly stilted speech patterns.

DC also shipped Blue Beetle #29 with departed writer John Rogers’s name on the cover, not new series writer Matthew Sturges. And their November solicitations are typo-filled:

Is escape from the island futile? Enemy Ace, the Golden Gladiator and Lt. Carson make a valiant attempt to break free despite the shocking loss of someone close to them! And as if contending with Pteranodons weren’t enough of a problem, what luck will they have against giant spiders?

This is super nitpicky, but the subject here is “contending with Pteranodons”, not “Pteranodons”, so it ought to be “wasn’t enough of a problem”. It’s also poor form to stop asking one question in order to ask another. This is pedantic SAT tutor business, though. But it’s part of a pattern.

A vicious Apokolptian villain known as Malestrom has arrived on Earth to kill Superman so that she might become The Bride of Darkseid! Superman and Supergirl join forces to battle the villain but at what cost to Metropolis? From Earth to Apokolips and beyond, Superman and Supergirl face unexpected challenges in this action-packed tale examining what it means to be a hero.

Putting aside the fact that this is clearly a pre-Final Crisis inventory story about the old New Gods, nothing telegraphs not giving a shit about a sensational new character find like misspelling her name in the solicitations for her book. Here’s hoping the actual character is meant to be Malestorm.

It’s girl’s day out as Supergirl and Batgirl try to find the perfect location for a tea party. Let’s just hope they don’t forget about Steaky and Ace!

Steaky would be a pretty awesome name for a cat, actually.

Taken separately, any one of these things isn’t a big deal. Hell, assembled they aren’t that big a deal. But I think I speak for English majors everywhere: we realize our degrees are largely useless in the job market. This is just rubbing salt in our wounds. I know that the blogosphere gets on everyone’s case to make sure books are on time, that books line up with thousands of issues of arcane continuity, that they’re respectful of all genders and heritages and creeds. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to spend a little time proofreading too.


  1. Wolverine’s antisemitism really provides a new dimension to his conflict with Magneto. It’s like a circle of racism: mutant holocaust survivor turned racial supremacist conflicts with pro-human mutant antisemite.

    Comment by moses — August 29, 2008 @ 12:58 pm

  2. Timely for me, as I’m reading Eats, Shoots, and Leaves right now. I do think that proofreading/proper grammar and punctuation is sadly neglected in the modern age… Spell-check can only go so far, I guess.

    Comment by Abby — August 29, 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  3. Don’t forget “Apokolptian” in that Maelstrom solicit

    Comment by Mike Barrett — August 29, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

  4. “Weren’t enough of a problem” is correct. It’s the subjunctive mood.

    Comment by hilker — August 29, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  5. What’s interesting about the Final Crisis slip is that if you were to tell Grant about it, he’d whip up an explanation about how it’s not a mistake at all; instead, he’d explain how Darkseid’s fall actually affected human languages. And you know what? I’d believe him.

    Comment by jedidotflow — August 29, 2008 @ 9:16 pm

  6. And yet they can spell Mxyzptlk, Kltpzyxm, Mxyztplk, and Klptzyxm right every time.

    Comment by HitTheTargets — August 29, 2008 @ 10:59 pm

  7. You could get a weekly feature from pointing out all the cover credit mistakes from DC Comics. I’m not exaggerating, either.

    Comment by Kevin Huxford — August 31, 2008 @ 8:30 pm

  8. Yeah, that was pretty jarring in JSA. I actually tried to make sense of it for a second and then remembered FC #3.

    Comment by Jbird — September 4, 2008 @ 3:21 am

  9. I’m writing a letter to Eddie Berganza about all this, and I thought I’d share one of my reasons here. In the SAME WEEK as that Uberfraulein non-sense (which also featured the Huntress in a costume she hasn’t worn in three years)…

    Cyborg #3:
    Ms. Martian is now synonymous with Miss Martian, apparently.
    Wondergirl must be Wonderwoman’s sidekick. Right.
    The dude Sarah Charles is engaged to is her fiancee, with two E’s.
    And said dude is called DeShaun and DeShawn in the same issue.

    If I did this poorly at my copy editing job I’d be suspended.

    Comment by Rick — September 11, 2008 @ 12:39 pm

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