Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Peter Palmer, the Amazing Spiderman

So yesterday I posted my little gripe about The Professional Media’s laxness when it comes to correctly rendering such things as proper nouns—using as an example the frequent references to Spiderman one sees in print and online, rather than the correct trademark, Spider-Man—and what that may say about the media’s inattention to other details they place before us.

Today’s e-mail, coincidentally, brings an offer to read—for free, even—a digital copy of the inaugural issue of Spider-Man, from March 1963. I’ve got it somewhere in the archives, on paper, as a reprint in a later Spider-Man “annual” (as mentioned yesterday, I didn’t come on board till Spider-Man number 16, which I mark as the genesis of my comic-book meekness), but having not looked at it in many years I thought it’d be worth a nostalgic peek. Did I mention it was free?

Worth the download it was indeed…but I was amused to discover that, in those early—and, I suspect, hurried—days, not even Stan Lee himself seemed to have a firm grasp on the character’s name. Here’s the cover:

Plainly, the intent seems to be to call the character Spider-Man, hyphenated. The name appears three times on the cover, each time punctuated the same. Very good.

Oh, but look:

There on page one, the name appears another three times…twice as Spider-Man, but then as Spiderman. This is getting slippery. 

Skipping on to page nine, we have Spidey’s name presented yet another three times (coincidence? I think not), and I’m going to say it’s given as Spiderman each time. (Bit of a coin-toss there in the second panel, but I’m guessing the hyphen is there to break Spiderman at the end of the line, not to indicate the letterer—or whoever ultimately made the decision—meant to have it Spider-Man.) 

By page two of the second Great Feature-Length Spider-Man Thriller, “Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon,” which includes a completely pointless fight with the Fantastic Four, whose presence here, I imagine, was to boost sales and nothing more, things seem to have settled down a bit: Peter Parker’s alter ego is being consistently rendered as Spider-Man. Alas, young Peter Parker himself is not faring so well, in that twice on the same page his creators seem to think his name is Peter Palmer


Alas. Even 50 years ago Spider-Man was being victimized by sloppy, hurried editing. And so was Spiderman. 

Monday, July 02, 2012

If You Don’t Have a Phone, Call This Number

I occasionally lend my name to petitions on subjects that are of interest to me, and much of the time those that are directed to my congressional trio produce this result: 

I can think of no legitimate reason for my state’s junior senator to “require” me to supply a phone number “in order to communicate via email” (emphasis mine). To communicate via telephone, yes, that would make sense, but via e-mail? What do you need besides my, you know, e-mail address…which, along with my name and street address, have already been provided. 

The other two members of my congressional team seem to be able to function without asking me for my phone number. Maybe they realize that e-mail communication goes by, you know, e-mail. 

Because of the way things are in this country, and in this state, I can’t help but wonder if there’s an intimidation angle at work here. I express my opinion, but before Sen. Thune will accept it, I have to give him my telephone number. Geez, my telephone number! What the hell is he gonna do with my telephone number?? Better click cancel… 

I suppose I could call one of the numbers he provides in case I have “difficulty providing this information,” and ask why he needs me to provide said information. 

But what if he has Caller ID? 

Can I borrow your phone?

Well, "Forever" Is a Pretty Long Time

Rule of thumb: If they put quotation marks around it, it’s the same as putting “not” in front of it.

This Should Not Be Difficult

Full disclosure: I was a comic-book geek in my youth, and, I suppose, once a comic-book geek always a comic book geek. (I am a child of the so-called Silver Age, and trace my “active” years from 1964—The Amazing Spider-Man #16, “Duel With Daredevil!”—to 1975, when I hied off to college.) But I don’t think it’s simple geekery—nor the fact that I have spent my entire working career as an editor, a writer, a creative director, etc.—to be continually torqued off when The Media can’t be bothered to spell things correctly. 

Like this, from today’s HuffPost Daily Brief

Let us pause for a moment an consider the irony inherent in the fact that James Franco, who co-starred in the original three Spider-Man films, seems not to know how to correctly render the proper noun (and trademark). Or that his editor seems not to know how. Or that Huffington Post’s proofreaders seem not to. 

Assuming there are in fact editors and proofreaders there, which more than once I have had cause to doubt. 

I have long since become inured to such monstrosities as mailboxes bearing the legend The Anderson’s, or copy handed to me replete with “quotation” marks to “highlight” words the “author” considers “important” (though possibly the “author” is being “facetious,” as possibly I am here), or “infer” instead of “imply,” “whom” instead of “who,” and so on. These generally are the product of nonprofessionals, which entitles them to a significant amount of slack.

But it’s disheartening to realize that even in the “professional” realm—and at a time when advertising for the upcoming movie series reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man, is relentless—nobody can be bothered to check it out, to look at a movie poster, a comic book, the internet, and say, “Oh, it’s not Spiderman; it’s Spider-Man. Well, that’s an easy fix!” 

Nope, no time for any of that sort of nonsense! 

Yes, you’re right: It’s just a comic-book character. And the majority of the world doesn’t know and doesn’t care one way or the other. 


It has been pointed out that God is in the details. And it seems unlikely that a media organization (and Huffington is far from alone in botching “Spider-Man”: As soon as the box-office figures start rolling in on Wednesday, we will see the name mangled in all sorts of print and electronic communiquÈs—will be sloppy only with the “little stuff.” 

If you can’t be bothered to check to make sure you’re getting the “little stuff” right, what would make me think you’re bothering to check to make sure you’re getting the “big stuff” right? 

Truth is, you’re in a business in which there’s no such thing as “little stuff” and “big stuff.” Not if you’re the least bit interested in credibility. 

For Lovers of Irony

I know it’s not funny. And yet...Victoria’s Secret?