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Kibbles ‘n’ Bits, 11/24/09

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§ The great Seth will make anyone whose work was ever improved by an editor feel like a piece of sh•t:

For example, I don’t know how anyone can stand to work with an editor. I don’t really know how fiction writers have become used to that idea. I can understand working with a proofreader: that makes sense to me. But even working as a prose writer, if there was someone changing around all the sentences in an article I had written and as a result of that it turned out to be a better-written article, I’d have to conclude at the end that I wasn’t much of a writer.

superfckers 456 Kibbles n Bits, 11/24/09

§ We are as happy as Laura Hudson is that Superf*ckers will be collected. James Kochalka’s completely delirious superhero parody could probably be redrawn by Ivan Reis and only a few people would notice. Cover, above.


§ El Santo examines that Prisoner remake webcomic we were all talking about last week:

Let’s get the good stuff out of the way. The Prisoner is one of the very few webcomics that decide to integrate motion. I have no complaints from a technical standpoint. In select scenes you can watch glass shatter or follow the spinning rotor blades of a ceiling fan. Click on the “Next” button, and the site glides to the page rather than the standard refresh screen. All told, it’s pretty cool. Clicking on a link to an issue brings up a loading screen (accompanied by an animated silhouette of The Village old-timey bicycle — coooool) which queues the entire 11 to 15 page comic at one time. Thus, we’re spared the terrible page-to-page lag times that define Zuda offerings.


BUT, the comic will not work on an Apple product because it’s in Flash, and — corporate conspiracy observers take note! — the comic is sponsored by Palm Pre! (Link via Paperless Comics)
§ We have not been staying up to date on the activities surrounding the Crow remake but Cinematical has! Who do YOU think should play the Crow? We don’t have a favorite…maybe that dude who’s on the show…you know the one I mean?

§ Continuing our 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea coverage. Life magazine photos from 1954!

Comments

  1. Disagreeing with Seth is supposed to make me feel like a piece of shit?

  2. Well, some artists have better “internal editors” than others; Carl Barks comes to mind immediately, Charles Schulz on the comics page. But a pompous blanket condemnation of the collaborative process serves nothing except to remind us that if you happen to be an editor, working with Seth will make you feel like a piece of shit.

  3. As usual, Seth makes a blanket statement that I do not even remotely agree with and that affirms in my mind he’s a bit of a pompous creep. Then again, I have yet to work with a bad editor, I guess. The few I’ve worked with in my (HA!) career so far have actually helped my work, given me more courage in daring more, and taught me a lot. One, Michael Dowers, I credit with helping me find my way to a whole new style, for whatever that was worth.

    I’ve never worked with an editor that made me radically alter anything; I know some have. So perhaps my experience has been more positive than that of others. But I have always agreed with Chaykin that editors are necessary and, when they do their job, helpful and your pal.

  4. We all can’t be perfect.

  5. Synsidar says:

    Seth’s piece gives the impression that he hasn’t worked with professional editors. Informal critiques, even if they’re pointedly critical, can miss serious structural problems that will ruin a story’s impact. From an editor’s POV, if a story isn’t structurally sound, it doesn’t work. A professional editor will notice such things as repetitive use of bits of dialogue, plot devices, character types, or themes; the writer might miss such defects or minimize their importance.

    Structural defects can be blatant. DARK AVENGERS #11 has the Molecule Man, but he’s not written as a villain. He is a psychotic killer with imaginary friends; in those respects, he’s a near duplicate of Bendis’s Scarlet Witch. There’s no pattern to what Bendis has the Molecule Man does; he has him do impossible (magical) things, such as turning a person into water, which isn’t manipulation of molecules. So, the reader gets another reality alteration story. The dialogue has more of Bendis’s short, repetitive sentences than usual, to the story’s detriment. The plot overall doesn’t make sense, but that’s due, in part, to the issue having “Dark Reigh” as background material and due to the Molecule Man lacking rational motives for what he does.

    If the story was edited, I see no traces of the process. A reader might get some entertainment from the various ways in which the Dark Avengers are killed, but movies would be better at that. There’s nothing in the story to appreciate.

    The issue’s gotten good some good reviews, but the reviewers seem oblivious to the structural problems. That often is the case. Structural problems matter, because when a story’s sound, with the parts meshing well, the impact of it is much greater than when the reader’s attention is diverted. Reading is an intellectual process.

    SRS

  6. Perhaps Seth is talking about his own process and self-doubts and he means if someone suggested how his work could be improved,he would feel like he wasn’t much of a writer, instead of feeling like a good writer learning to be great through collaboration with a good editor. But it comes across as though he thinks he is the Greatest Writer Who Ever Lived and has no need to be improved upon. It also sounds like he’s not that familiar with what editors do. If they have to rewrite your work then yes, you are not much of a writer.

  7. … or they are crappy at editing, I should add.

  8. I’m pretty much in agreement with what Synsidar posted. The writer/artist is sometimes too close to the material to see stronger possibilities inherent in the material, or for that matter to realize that something that seems perfectly clear to them may not be clear to the reader. An editor’s chief function, to paraphrase William Goldman, is to protect the story’s spine.

    Whenever I donned my editor’s cap, it was always to bring out the best in the writer’s story, not twist what he/she did into an imitation of my work.

  9. Nate Horn says:

    Did you post a Seth piece and a James Kochalka piece next to each other on purpose? Because that is freaking hysterical if you did.

    Seth is a phenomenal talent who’s also a phenomenal asshole. He’s basically the John Byrne of alt comics.

  10. A writer who believes he does not need an editor is just showing ignorance of an editor’s purpose. As others have written above, (synsider, buzz) a good editor can spot flaws or shortcomings in the piece and help the writer to tighten up his work before it is released to an adoring public. Maybe Seth has had a bad experience with an editor?

  11. There’s something inherently hilarious about Seth, of all people, claiming the uselessness of editors. This is a guy who’s done a 200 page graphic novel that consists of a guy walking around his house in slippers talking about electric fans.

  12. It’s really good that you posted that SuperF*ckers cover. I just noticed a mistake: the bottom of the E in SUPER is cut off. Good thing I caught it before we went to press!

  13. What Ben Towle said. Seth’s work is lovely, and most of the time I actually rather like his…let’s say relaxed? sense of pacing, but I’m not sure it couldn’t be improved by some editing.

    In his defense, maybe he’s speaking from lack of experience, because maybe there weren’t/aren’t any good editors in whatever retro/anachronistic/affected/alternative history world it is that he lives in.

  14. James, that’s what editors do!

    I guess I’m a bit of anomaly in that I was an editor before I was a writer. I edited nonfiction books, so most of the writers were hired based on their knowledge, not their writing skills. Nonetheless, I always did my best to preserve a writer’s voice. I took it as a compliment when a writer would say “But you didn’t edit it at all,” when in fact I had taken the whole thing apart and reassembled it.

    It’s a rare work that can’t benefit from a good editor, but the best editors are invisible, precisely because they bring out the best in the writer without intruding themselves into the story.

  15. “James, that’s what editors do!”

    Well… I just pointed out the error to Brett at Top Shelf and sent him a correction, and now he says he prefers the version with the E cut off!

  16. Was there ever only 4 issues of Superfuckers? It is one of my all time favorite comics. Will we ever see more?

    “I want to suck some fucking drug smoke into my god damn lung bags!”

    Has got to be one of the all time best comic book lines in history!

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