Friday, 14 October 2016

Jeff Seiler: Dave Sim & Me

Today's entry is a little bit different. A while back, when I was working on proofreading Jaka's Story, Dave asked me to post up something that could be put into the Cerebus archive about how I decide what needs correcting and what doesn't. So, today, I'm going to give you some insight into how I have been going about proofreading volume I of Cerebus. Originally, I thought it would not take too long, as it was almost all comics pages with either thought or word balloons. That was before I took into account all of the P's that look like D's, the Y's that look like V's, and the occasional G that is nearly illegible.

Obviously, outright misspellings need correcting whenever and wherever one sees them, such as the word APPENTICES, instead of APPRENTICES, on page 420. (I am using the first remastered volume, printed back in 2014.) There aren't many such misspellings, but they are there and need to be corrected.

Punctuation is an issue, as well. Missing commas, the occasional semi-colon instead of a comma or colon, the infrequent comma that looks like a period or period that looks like a comma, et cetera. Alone, not one of these throws the reader off very much, but the aggregate can wear down the reader. I am going to go ahead and say it here, tactfully, that this IS volume I, reprinting the first 25 issues (plus the Silverspoon strips from the Comic Buyer's Guide) that represent the first sustained foray into comic book publishing that Dave ever did. Jumping around, during my proofreading, from volume to volume, out of order, I get a greater insight into just how much Dave improved, in all areas, over the years.

The largest issue with volume I is, however, the lettering. The P's that look like D's are the greatest offenders. Say what you will -- all very positive, I’m sure -- about Dave’s lettering skills in later years, but the lettering in volume I is, at times, atrocious. Without speculating about why that is so, I will go on to tell you (at long last) about my decision-making processes about the lettering and where it needed correcting.

I broke out my ruler earlier and measured a random, good-looking P. (Insert joke here.) In the normal-sized word or thought balloons, a standard letter P has a tail that measures just about one millimeter in length, the tail being what is below the loop of the P. A badly-lettered P looks very much like a D. However, a badly-lettered P and a standard D (almost all of the D’s are standard-looking, though occasionally a D can look like a P) do have dissimilarities. Thus, it is up to judgment of the proofreader, giving it the old eyeball test. Literally. I take off my glasses and peer at the page while holding it about one inch from my eye. And, that's even since I got new glasses, with bifocals. It is often not an easy decision to make, as to whether the loop of the P goes all the way down to the bottom of the tail or not. A half-millimeter length for the tail of the P is okay, but when the loop almost, but not quite, touches the bottom of the tail, then it really is a judgment call. Take a look at your copy of Cerebus and I think you will see what I’m talking about.

For what it's worth, it really helps in making the judgment call to have a couple of bad P's on the same page or in the same balloon as a good P. (Insert joke here.) Also, one test I have relied on, over and over, is the second glance. I look away, then look back, and if it still looks like a D, then it gets a notation.

Okay, the Y's. The Y's are actually pretty clear-cut. Either they look like V's, or they don't. But, since Dave lettered most of the word and thought balloons on a slant, when you look at Y's that are straight up and down, versus the Y's that are on the slant, then it can get a little bit difficult to discern whether or not it looks like a V. I think, when you get the second remastered copy, you will see what I'm talking about. Or, again, check out your copy. Also, every so often, but not very often, there is a V that looks like a Y. So, I correct that, too.

The S's that look like G's. This is actually a thing for me. I probably should add here, or should have added it above, that part of my decision-making process on the P's is whether or not the P maybe looking like a D would be mistaken because of the word. Occasionally, if the P looks like a D, it still can be a legitimate word, just not a word that makes sense in context. So, if that’s the case, then the P definitely needs to be fixed. That is mostly the case, as well, with the S's that look like G's. However, it seldom happens that an S looking like a G makes a word that is an actual word. So (and because the S's that look like G's come along so often), I decided to leave them alone. Once again, I think you can look at your copy and see what I mean. Every now and then, you will find a G that looks like an S but, again, it doesn't make a real word. So, easily overlooked.

So, that's most of what I've been doing. As of today, I'm at the bottom of page 427, the first page of issue #21, the first Mind Games. I have about 120 pages to go. Mind Games is a very text-dense issue, and it's late and the cat is outside and I have rows to go before I sleep.


Travis Pelkie said...


How, though, are the offending letters being fixed? Is Sean "cloning" good Ps or Ds or whichever letters and then digitally inserting them?

And are you going to get me to buy ANOTHER copy of volume 1 just to get all the good P that is in there? That disses me off! ;)

More seriously, I'm glad that there's a need for a new printing of v1 as that indicates that there is still interest in the series. It probably would have helped to have been able to remaster the entire series chronologically, but I certainly understand that ya gotta do the ones that they've run out of first!

Thanks again for this, Jeff, and why are you squinting at me like that? ;)

Travis Pelkie said...

And of course I blew my own joke by not writing it Disses me off instead of using the lower case d. P'oh!

Jeff Seiler said...

Very Punny, Travis. To answer your good question, I have no idea how Sean intends to fix letters in word balloons (or anywhere on any comics page). All I know is that he told me that he is able to do so. And, on September 29th in a phone message, Dave told me to go ahead and proof Volume I and to fix the P's that look like D's: "Might as well do it now, so that it's done."

I wondered why another remastering of Volume I was necessary just two years later but, once I got into looking closely at the pages, I realized that the 2014 remastering of Cerebus was not nearly as thorough on fine details as subsequent remasters have been. Plus, I did not proofread the 2014 version.

An update: I had intended to try to finish my proofing this past weekend when I had my free two-night stay at the casino hotel, but I got sick and literally was in bed for two and a half days. Thus, I am still at page 428 of 548, which includes Dave's comments at the end). Having recovered, I'm going to try to be done by the end of the week. Just for the sake of giving you scope, I'm currently beginning page 62 of single-spaced, handwritten notes on legal pad paper. Since I'm about to begin Chapter 21, Mind Games, that averages out to about three pages of notes per chapter. (Yes, I know that Mind Games was issue #20, but the 2014 volume includes the Silverspoon strips as a seperate Chapter 14, thus throwing off the matching of chapter numbers with issue numbers.)

So, back to the salt mines I go.

Sean R said...

"I wondered why another remastering of Volume I was necessary just two years later but, once I got into looking closely at the pages, I realized that the 2014 remastering of Cerebus was not nearly as thorough on fine details as subsequent remasters have been. Plus, I did not proofread the 2014 version."

I didn't work on this one, Mara and I only supplied replacement signatures for the Lebonfon printing that was held up for more than a year, to make the remainder of the volume acceptable. This version was worked from the ground up from all available materials, using several years' worth of accumulated knowledge.

See this post--

Jeff Seiler said...

Sean, I did not mean to denigrate you and Mara. I was simply trying to be tactful about the quality and source of the 2014 "remastered" volume. I'm sorry that I offended you and Mara. I am glad that I am certain that this will not affect your application of my proofreading for Volume I.