A Matter of oPINIon

November 23, 2008

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Editor

Forgive the melodramatic title. It's a movie reference. It appeals to my bent sense of humor.

(Great googly moogly, has it really been over two years since I posted here? That's what I get for thinking that blogging on other sites would fill the gap. Nope. I'm going to get double duty from what I write - continue to editorialize and post both there and here. Two years. Sheesh!)

It's a very dark, very cold evening. Winter's here with a vengeance, at least temperature- and wind-wise. Thank the High Ones there's no snow yet. Shortly I'll be going out for the evening to catch a spot of dinner, methinks.

I'm in that quiet space between the busy-ness of the day and the small chaos of a pre-Thanksgiving evening. (Even though it's a Sunday, I'm certain stores are already open late, getting a jump on what used to be the the post-Thanksgiving retail season.) And in that quiet space I am thinking about what I've just finished working on.

Nothing.

Well, nothing anyone would notice. Because if they were going to notice it, they would have already. But they haven't. So... nothing. I just finished making a bunch of tweaks and corrections to a number of pages in the big-ass (and getting bigger every week) Digital EQ online comics project. Things like, an extra editorial page that needed to go into this issue, and a story page from that installment that somehow went completely missing for months and months! Stuff like that. Editor-thing type stuff. That no one will notice.

For years and years, while Team EQ was scurrying about, writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, printing, marketing, and everything else-ing the hundreds of issues and thousands of pages that comprise the complete (to date) Elfquest saga, it was easy to fall into a certain mindset. I think many people do at some point, whatever their vocation. I call it "good-enough-itis." It's what you allow yourself to settle for when you feel rushed, or jammed up against a deadline. It's what motivates an artist to take a shortcut here or there, hoping the inker will pull things together. It's what hangs up a writer who's pretty sure there's some little detail of character or bit of continuity that's off... but what the hell, it reads pretty good as is. It's what causes an editor to let a story page through the system that's maybe seventy or eighty percent of what it could be, but it's good enough and besides the book's got to get to the printer tomorrow.

Good-enough-itis. And heaven knows, as the "buck stops here" person at Warp Graphics, over the years I indulged in that particular malaise plenty of times. I remember I used to argue a lot about it, if anyone critiqued this or that issue as not up to par. I'd get very defensive, and bolster the writing or the artwork or whatever, knowing in my heart of hearts that the issue was below the standard I wanted to maintain... but I'd be dipped if someone else was going to get away with saying it out loud to my face! Hah!

But now, all the Elfquest comics and stories are going on-line. Literally millions of copies of the print comics and books are out there, but (1) most of those volumes are out of print now, and (2) I'm not in the old paper game any more. The Digital EQ project is - at least until someone else picks up the print publishing baton and runs with it - not only Warp's creative legacy but the best way we've discovered yet to introduce lots and lots of new readers to the adventures of Cutter and company. With the elfquest.com website getting mega-hits every week, I know we're doing something right!

Back when, if a comic issue or book got printed and published and distributed containing an error, that was it. Either (if the mistake was horrendous enough) you tried to recall every copy and incurred the expense of another print run; or (if it was a simple glitch) you lived with it. And nodded sheepishly when fan after fan pointed it out to you in letters or at conventions or book signings. After all, even with the goof, the issue or volume was plenty good enough. But in the digital realm, second chances are easy. A page is out of order? Just renumber it in the HTML code-list. Color is off? Photoshop to the rescue! Don't have the original art boards any more to scan? Use the printed copy, and work whatever magic you can on the image file to make the art look at least as good as it was once - or at least as good as you remember it being.

So even if nobody notices, or knows what's been tweaked to make it just a little bit better, I'm doing it - because I can. And because this is the Elfquest that many people are going to see for the first time, even thirty years after its debut. And we all know what they say about first impressions.

I lied, sort of. Even if nobody else knows, I know. And that makes me happy.

Richard Pini

 

(Click here for a list of previous editorials.)