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Monday, July 3, 2017

The Troubles With Typos in Marvel Comics

Marvel Comics has been having a problem with spelling grammar and punctuation in some of their publications lately. There have been quite a few typos in many of their recent comics. And one of their senior executives Tom Bevoort is in denial about the problem. 

I’m an indie publisher running a one-man operation off his laptop. And I’ve run into my fair share of quality control issues in the fifteen years I’ve worked on publishing my own books and eBooks. However, I’ll admit the problem and make an effort to correct them in my books. When I’m alerted to an issue by readers, I’ll proofread a story and re-upload it so future readers can have the best quality publication.

Unfortunately Tom Bevroort, an executive at Marvel, a subsidiary of a multibillion dollar corporation like Disney can’t seem to do anything about typos in Marvel’s comics. This is a man with hundreds of editors, assistant editors, and freelance proofreaders on his payroll. It’s a sad day when an unemployed guy working on a shoestring budget is willing to take the editing of his publications more seriously than an executive who makes six figures at the division of multibillion dollar corporation.

But this is par for the course with SJW Marvel. Where 22-year old kids fresh out of college are working in their editorial department without any guidance from a seasoned professional to teach them the craft of comics or the basics of working in a publishing house. Most of these kids probably haven’t read the Chicago manual of style, Elements of Style, or the Bedford English handbook. So they don’t know how use these tools to improve the quality of their work. If they did they’d know what grammatical mistakes to look out for before they sent a book out to the printers.

A combination of inexperienced staff and poor leadership usually what leads to quality control issues like typos in publications. And when there’s a quality control issue like typos in comics, the only thing a senior manager can do is admit the problem and try to do better. While no publisher will make perfect publications all the time, a smart one will make efforts to rectify them so they won’t keep reoccurring.

Marvel’s problem is that their editorial department is run by people too young to understand what craft is. An editor on a publication should be someone with years of experience working with publications, deadlines and schedules. That’s someone who’d be able to catch something like a typo in a proof before a final publication goes to print.

I’ve made my fair share of mistakes publishing books. And over the last eight years running SJS DIRECT on a laptop with a shoestring budget I’ve made efforts to improve the quality of my paperbacks and eBooks. While I aspire to get to the point where I can produce books that are 99% typo free on my own, I’d like to think Marvel could do the same with the billions of dollars Disney is pouring into all the new staff they’re hiring.  If Tom Bevoort can’t make his editorial staff get a handle on something simple like typos in comic books then maybe it’s time for someone new at the top at Marvel. 

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