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Editing, Marc Mason, and Other Crimes (August 6, 2001)

posted Feb 12, 2011, 1:53 PM by Russ Smith   [ updated Feb 12, 2011, 2:05 PM ]
Hi. My name is R. Francis Smith. The "R" doesn't stand for anything secret. All else of interest will become clear over time.

I've been watching a lot of anime recently; after months, perhaps years, of friends trying to convince me, I have finally come around to the belief that subtitled is the one true way.  Comparing so-called "fansubbed" shows -- that is, shows in Japanese where fans have laboriously added English subtitles, instead of some commercial repackager -- with commercially dubbed productions demonstrates what liberties the latter will take with the original vision.  The "fansubs," as incredibly broken as their work can sometimes be, go to great pains to preserve the original intent.

Which brings me around to the two things I want to touch on: comics and editing.

It has been said over and over that one of the great things about comics, if not actually the greatest, is the way that a work can go from the mind(s) of the creator(s) to the reader's mind with a minimal amount of interference -- modulation to pictures and words, demodulation back to ideas, and in between some editing, some printing process, and so forth. And comics are notorious for being minimalist about editing, no matter how many annoying incidents we can all name; there's no comparison with the editorial practices of, say, the American visual media.  This is a good and right reason to love comics.

This road, too, leads to the topic of editing.  No surprise, really, since the reason I'm starting this column is because I'm in the process of transitioning to some sort of contributing editor role here at Comic Book Galaxy.  Eventually, someone's going to be crazy enough to let me take great whacks at the reviews that come in to Big Bang, instead of the minor divots I've been leaving, and I've found it useful to give the nature of editing some thought before such a dark day dawns.

You, the reader of this column, are either one of the stable of reviewers, and doubtless are pleased to be compared to a horse by that phrasing, or you aren't.  Obviously.  If you are, you may well be cringing at what kind of boot I'm going to wear and where I'm going to plant it.  Fear not.  We'll get along famously.  You'll see.  It'll only hurt at first, honest.

If you're not a reviewer, then what?  You're hoping I'll quit being cute and give you an idea where we're going, probably, or at least, it pleases me to pretend that's the case.  Here's what we've been discussing:
  • Quality over quantity.  Depth over breadth.
  • Consolidation of reviews under the Big Bang umbrella.
  • New attention to trade paperbacks and original graphic novels.
  • Better exposure for the reviewers who are ready to shine.
  • Thorazine for Alan David Doane.  (Look, I need a personal goal, here.)
Some of this will be accomplished through this column, as you will see in a moment.  Some of this will be accomplished through the aforementioned boot and the alluded-to body parts.  Some of this has been decided by fiat and is just going to be the way of things.  (And I'll probably be out of luck on the thorazine.)  The real issue, though, is whether our ideas are pleasing to us (yes) or whether they best serve you, as well.  And you can tell us that, because we have a forum, we do, where you can sound off.  And I'll be asking you to do just that every time I write one of these.

But first, let's talk about Marc Mason.

Unless this is your very first time on this site, if not in the sunlight, you should be aware that Marc is a Big Bang reviewer of no mean talent, in addition to being the mind behind our spiffy DVD column, "Aisle Seat."  He's got a background laden with professional journalism credit, including movie reviews.  All this you know if you've read his short bio.  I tried to get Marc to tell us a few things you don't already know.

RFS: What evil lurks in the heart of Marc Mason?

Marc: Some days, the complete misanthropy I feel threatens to overwhelm me, and I desire to conquer the known world. However, I fear if I fail, I will be stuck as a cat for the next 100 years.

I've been over your mini-bio and I see that you've been doing pro journalism, at least off and on, for fifteen years.  That explains a lot. Do you mind telling us about that first gig, for the "sports tabloid in Indiana?"

Sure. The sports editor of the largest paper in the county quit and started "Hamilton County Sports Weekly", which came out in tabloid format. A couple of months in, a my friend Scott and I started co-writing a column called "The Rambling Guys". When the paper folded, the editor went back to his old job and took me along as a straight out reporter. I was 16.

Do you still do any pro journalism?

Not so much. I was producing part of a corporate newsletter for a while and doing stuff in that area, but I haven't been actively seeking any assignments.

With your pro creds, why give it away? What do you get out of it?

The Galaxy is cool. There are so many great people working on it that it makes you work hard to make sure you live up to the example they set. You don't want to be the weakest link. I also like the passion that the site has. Many sites don't have the strong point of view that the Galaxy does, and I think that is the calling card we are trying to leave. Others are great, they do nice work, but they don't have a POV to speak of. That's worth being a part of.

You've been a pro movie reviewer, so "Aisle Seat" is no big leap.  What's your take on making your work here relevant to the Comic Book Galaxy reader?

First, cover movies that I think people who log on to the Galaxy [would like]. Second, make sure I don't sound like every other movie critic in America. My voice has to be distinctive, above all else, otherwise, why should people waste their time on me?

If you found your dream artist, what kind of comics would you produce?

I actually have a 25 issue series sitting around [...] I just need an artist. If I found someone who did something along the lines of Terry Moore, it would rock. My story is kind of a romantic comedy/superhero drama. When Harry Met Sally crossed with Captain America. That sounds like [expletive], but trust me. It works on paper.

Anything you want the world to know, blurt it out.

Thanks to all out there who support the Galaxy, especially those who spend time reading my stuff. Remember that reading comics is a great way to enjoy a story, not a way to spend your life. Keep a wonderful life away from the longbox, and everybody will be okay. There is nothing so serious about comics that you need a website to protest it.

Many thanks to Marc for playing along.  Tune in next column when I do something else.

Reviews This Week:  Deadman: Dead Again #1, Planetary #15, Wild Stars #1, Young Justice #36, Fantastic Four #46, Ultimate Spider-Man #12, Daredevil: Yellow #3, JLA #56, Fray #3, Batgirl #19, Exiles #3, and the first Ultimate X-Men TPB, courtesy of Hilliard, Jizdeortega, Lawler, Mathews, Nunley, Tecson, and the Princess.  Read 'em and weep.

Forum Topic: What's not getting review coverage in Big Bang that should be, or what is that shouldn't, and why or why not?

- R. Francis Smith