January 28, 2014

Mea Culpas!

As soon as a book goes to the printer, authors cross a point of no return. If you forgot something or made a mistake, you’re going to have to live with it, at least until the second printing of the book comes out.

So now that my The Big Book of Superheroes is irrevocably at the printer, I’ve had not one, but TWO chilling realizations. Dang it!

I should start by mentioning that in the world of kids’ books, mine are a little unusual in that I always insist on there being a bibliography listing my sources. 

It’s important that readers know I’m not “making up” my facts, and it’s also vital to give credit where it's due. I’m also diligent on crediting ideas and quotes inside the text of the book itself, either with an internal citation or footnotes.

So, what gives? Well, despite the acknowledgements page and the five-page bibliography in The Big Book of Superheroes, I’m now seeing two omissions that are totally my fault:

1. Brody vanderSommen is the dude who designed my website back in 2000. Through his foresightedness, we’ve been able to update this over the years with no essential changes. Sure, he writes code like it’s 1999, but it works!

Brody is also notable for being near the top of my Fantasy Basketball League, nipping at the heels of the current champ—ME.

So is Brody thanked in my new book? Nope. (Not in this printing, anyway!)

2. For years, I’ve had xkcd perched on my RSS feed. Why? It’s the smartest comic around! And I like comics … like this one from Superheroes:


Anyway,  the other day, I broke out in a cold sweat the other day when a guy ran past me wearing those weird “toe shoes”. Because I’d suddenly remembered where the idea for one of my book’s illustrations originated!

It was xkcd. Here’s one of the 150-ish illustrations from The Big Book of Superheroes, from the chapter on obtaining superpowers
But sadly, this is reminiscent of an xkcd comic about a swordsman getting toe shoes from an unseen deity. (I can't find a link to the webcomic, but still.)

So, a thousand profound apologies. I’m not sure when I saw that xkcd (or when it ran online), but I DO remember it. So while I thought I was being clever as I wrote MY directions to the illustrator (who is blameless), I was merely subconsciously regurgitating someone else’s awesomeness.

(“Subconscious regurgitation.” Don’t you hate it when that happens?)

Of course, credit will be given in the next printing—or better yet, we'll just have a new illustration. But for the moment, I hope this suffices!

Yes, one could argue that while there’s a similarity in concept between these two illustrations, the actual execution varies. And of course, there are endless examples in the comics medium of borrowed ideas seeing new light dressed up in different superhero costumes. But even so:

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! (That's Latin for "My bad!")

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