(Or: Tending to the proofreading of MINDS for the next remastered volume.)
Having read in one of Sean Michael Robinson’s posts about doing the remastering of Cerebus, Volume I, that he thought that the next book in the queue would be MINDS, I ordered a copy of it from Menachem Luchins, who owns Escape Pod Comics in Huntington, NY. I received it on Tuesday of this past week and set to work on proofreading it on Wednesday night.
This was the easiest book to proof so far, primarily because it’s short (279 pages, including Dave’s introduction) and because, by my count, 62 pages contain no dialogue whatsoever and many more pages contain (literally) just one word. Of course, this makes sense because much of the story is set in the vacuum of outer space. Now, having said that, there are a lot of pages with very dense text. Nevertheless, I powered through the book in one night (7 hours, 30 minutes), making my usual handwritten notes about the various things that needed correcting, IMHO.
The good news was that, this being volume 10, the dreaded P’s that look like D’s (the primary issue I had to deal with in proofreading Cerebus, Volume I) were practically nonexistent. Only 14 examples of that, that I could find, plus a few other letters that need touching up.
I should mention that, since Dave had informed me earlier that he does his writing based on proper English (as in, Great Britain) usage, I decided that I would purchase a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. I called around, here in Minneapolis, and found a bookstore in Dinkytown (yeah, for whatever reason, that’s what they call the neighborhood near and around the University of Minnesota) that had a copy of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary. Now, anyone familiar with the OED will not be surprised that the Shorter OED consists of two volumes, comprised of over 3,700 pages. I certainly was not going to purchase the 15 or 20 volumes that comprise the unabridged OED. But, I got a steal--leatherbound, in a slipcase, for just $75.
So, armed with my new weapon and able, for the first time, to be absolutely sure when correcting Dave’s misspellings or usage, I cranked out the whole book Wednesday night. I still have to go back and highlight all of the corrections in the book, so that I can send both the notes and the highlighted book to Sean, so that he can make the corrections. The process that Dave, Sean, and I have evolved to is that I send a copy of the written notes and the highlighted book to Sean, while sending the original handwritten notes to Dave, for him to include in the Cerebus Archive. And, I keep a copy of the notes for myself.
The vast majority of the corrections for MINDS are of punctuation, and the vast majority of those are double quotation marks instead of single quotation marks. And then, commas where there aren’t any; an occasional ellipsis where there isn’t one; and, rarely, a period where there isn’t one.
More good news: I found only two outright typographical errors. The first one is on page 155, where it should be UTENSILS, not UNTENSILS. The other one comes about 30 pages later and I will leave it up to your eagle eyes to find that one.
There are several cases of Dave inserting hyphens into compound words when the OED says that there should not be hyphens. For example, on page 205, OFFSPRING is one word, per the OED, with no hyphen.
One particular example of a hyphen out of place, but which gave me difficulty, was the use of LIFE-MATES, on page 158. I could not find the word in either the OED or my American Heritage Dictionary, which lends credence to the idea of it being two words, with no hyphen.
There was a couple of instances where Dave used a word I had never heard of before and for which the OED came in very handy. The oddest one was on page 205: ICONOLATRY. This comes during the sequence wherein Dave is talking to the pouty Cerebus, who is floating through space in a variety of different chairs (drawn very creatively by Gerhard). Dave asks Cerebus, “I don’t suppose you’re interested in hearing about how the Shaman-King’s mistake was in seeking the ideal Aardvarkian ‘form’ with no regard for the ideal ‘nature’? A mistake grounded in his blind belief in iconolatry…?”
Well, having only a vague idea of what the word might mean, by breaking down its parts--icon + olatry--I looked it up in the OED. “The worship of religious images or icons.” This struck a chord with me and I thought at length about Dave’s use of the word here. Finally, I wrote this note: “The OED defines ICONOLATRY as: The worship of religious images or icons. Thus, the phrase on this page, ‘belief in iconolatry’ is redundant (I think). A better wording would be ‘practice of iconolatry’, or just take out ‘belief in’ and make it ‘blind iconolatry’.”
And, in closing, I would add that this example really illustrates the difference between reading MINDS and minding MINDS. Having read this book at least a couple of times in the serialized version, and at least once or twice in the phonebook, I never stumbled over that word before. But proofreading requires a different mindset: You look at each word, one by one, and then at the entire word balloon as a whole and decide if it works or not. Obviously, typographical errors stick out like sore thumbs (when you’re proofing), but the more subtle things take a great degree of concentration. It requires a combination of looking at the big picture while, at the same time, focusing on each element, right down to the missing or misused punctuation marks. That’s what really eats up the time.
And, it’s why I get paid the big bucks. Like the 12-pointer my sister got on the first day of rifle season, down on our family farm.
Okay, it’s on to the highlighting now, for me. Look for the remastered MINDS in your LCS soon (I hope). And, I hope that these updates are interesting to some of you, especially those of you whose Kickstarter donations help fund the entire remastering project. We’ll plant that flag at the summit one of these days, God willing.