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Thursday, March 19, 2009

An Open Letter to DC Comics, re: Quality Control

Since DC seems to not have any public editorial e-mail address

To anyone at DC Comics who might care,

You know, I really want to like DC Comics. You currently control the publishing rights to some hundreds of thousand of pages of great comic book stories, and despite some misgivings I'm pretty happy to hand over my money when you reprint some of that stuff. By comparison, I have to figuratively hold my nose when buying reprints that, for example, Marvel puts out.

Unfortunately, you don't make it easy.

A case in point, the recent hardcover SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING Volume 1 (ISBN 978-1401220822). Now, this reprints some great comics books, and you finally had a chance to fix up any number of things from the previous edition, and you made a good start. You finally include #20 of the series, the first one Alan Moore wrote. You include all the covers, absent from the paperback edition. The paper is pretty good for the colouring (though perhaps still less than the quality of the work deserves, but I understand if the sales you expect don't warrant wholly new colour separations). The cover was quite nice, thankfully not any of the covers you used when soliciting the book.

But for some reason you can't resist mucking it up. For example, I can't fathom why you would take out Moore's text introduction from the paperback (and the accompanying John Totleben illustrations). That just makes it less of a book. Was it really an either/or for including the introduction or the covers? Would adding a half-dozen pages really have broken the bank?

But most importantly, this is page 23 of THE SAGA OF THE SWAMP THING #24:

In case you missed it, this is the last line of the story:


You wouldn't know that from your new "deluxe" edition, which omits that line, ending the story in mid-sentence. The equivalent of having the last scene of KING KONG be "Well, Denham, the airplanes got him." and muting the next line.

Anyway, that's among the reasons I find this new edition unacceptable. If it was done right, I was perfectly willing to buy it, and the subsequent volumes, despite having most of those stories in both their original serializations and the paperback editions. So that's about US$150 retail you won't see from me. And while I won't pretend that I'll stop buying any DC books, I think as of now the company joins Marvel as a company I have to hold my nose to buy from.

[Adding... Artist of that page Steve Bissette posts about it here and here, also confirming that the lettering is directly on the original art boards, making its disappearance even more baffling]


  1. Jesus fuck. I sometimes wonder if Levitz orders his underlings to fuck up Alan Moore's comics.

  2. To be fair, DC screw-ups are hardly limited to Alan Moore comics (and trust me, those lists are a fraction of the total they should be). Though generally they're on text pages (misquoting T.S. Eliot is a favourite), tables of contents or credits, not some of the hyper-fuckups of actual content like some Moore books have gotten.

    On the other hand, a lot of the other books the only copy I have is the reprint, or I don't feel like comparing panel-by-panel (someone else found the missing "and meet the sun" in a previous Swampy reprint, which is how I know to use it as a quick quality control check, like "Just say Uncle" would be for SOTST v2), so for all I know they're dropping captions left and right in every book. It might explain why those Bob Haney stories make so little sense...


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