Saturday, September 10, 2011

Corrections Department, with Thanks to David Uzumeri

I just want to give a quick shout out to David Uzumeri, who was awesome enough to point out an error in my Justice League International #1 review.

I misidentified a speaker as Booster Gold, when it was really a protester doing the talking. I think the blond hair was what did it, although Booster obviously has shades on, so I just wasn't thinking.

To make matters worse, I proceeded to be really snarky about the implications of my misreading. Which I thought was funny, but which really made me look like an ass when it was based on a sloppy misapprehension.

I've changed the review as a result. Not only did I alter the appropriate section (citing David), but I tweaked the whole thing, toning it down a bit. The mistake only changed my interpretation of a single scene, and my thesis remains the same. But I thought these mods were only right, after the reviewer had been exposed for basing his negative impression, at least in some small part, on a fundamental misreading. Don't worry: the integrity of the piece is secure, although I did tone down the invective just a bit.

On a more important note, this is exactly what any serious writer fears. Especially when delivering a scathing review, a responsibility one shouldn't take lightly.

But as much as the fear that one has made an error should haunt a writer, what's more scary is the idea that people -- possibly hundreds of people -- would catch the error and not point it out.

After all, it's not easy or comfortable to do so. No one likes to be told he or she is wrong. But people also don't like having to be the bearer of this particular bad news, especially when it's human nature to be defensive about one's own writing. It's far easier to just make a mental note that the writer's an idiot and go about your day. Which the writer could hardly blame you for doing, even though the result is that a mistake persists, deluding some readers and convincing others that the writer's an idiot.

So kudos to David Uzumeri, who's done me a great service. And please, if any of you spot similar mistakes in my writing or in that of anyone else, don't hesitate the point them out. It does help to do so diplomatically, as David did. But only a writer who really is an idiot will reply with anything but thanks.

Corrections are, unfortunately, part of the game. And if we are going to take comics seriously, we have to incorporate a correction-friendly culture into our writing about comics.

David Uzumeri did participate in a roundtable review of all 13 DC #1s offered this week, over at ComicsAlliance (a site I recommend). It's well worth your time, and I hope you'll check it out.

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