Monday, July 10, 2017

On the nature of mistakes.

First a little back story.

When I was a young man making my way in the world of advertising, the older, more experienced art directors taught me a lot about learning from my mistakes. One episode I remember very vividly was a time when we were on a very tight schedule chasing after some deadline of some magazine for some client.

Those particulars are lost in the haze of time but I do remember that it had to do with a photo that needed to be retouched by an airbrush artist. It was a C print. C prints were expensive and took at least over night to be made from a 2 1/4' x 2 1/4" film transparency. I  mistakenly ordered a print of an outtake not the approved photo. They were very similar. So similar that it was hard to tell them apart. I gave it to my favorite retouch artist as a super hot rush job. He did a great job in the allotted time. I ordered a PMT to show the engraver the positioning and cropping on the key line mechanical.

So after I assembled the key line, marked up instructions to the engraver on a tissue overlay, I got an okay from the Account Executive, who was looking for typos.
He signed off on it and I handed it over to the Production Department. When press proofs of the ad came in, it was then that I recognized to my absolute horror I'd used the wrong photo. It wasn't even the headline photo--it was a small inset that the type wrapped around.

I discovered this mistake while everyone was out for lunch. I was so upset I couldn't even eat.

After lunch, I confessed my dereliction of duty to to my direct superior, the Executive Art Director.
I had failed the him, I had failed the agency, I had failed the client and worse of all, I had failed the product itself. The Executive AD squinted at the press proof, looking at the right picture and then at the wrong picture. cigarette smoke curling out of the ever present cigarette between his fingers and said "Ahhh, don't worry about it. It doesn't change the meaning of the product's selling points to the consumer."

" Are you sure? Won't they notice?"

"Maybe, eventually"  he said. "If they do do what is the worst thing that can happen to you? You won't die, The worst they can do is fire you but they won't. The account director signed off on it anyway. That small picture they won't notice, A big late fee from the magazine? They'll notice that."

And then he said "You'll probably never make a mistake like that again."

I don't remember making that kind of mistake again but goofs always happen.
It was a lesson in coping with errors.

Tales of the Beanworld #1.

When TOTB #1 came out I had been in adverting a long time. In fact, I was the Executive Art Director now. My deal with Eclipse Comics was that if  I made my comics without an upfront page rate, made my own film negatives, and did advertising and marketing work for them, they would solicit, print, distribute and collect money from the distributors at no charge. It was a good deal.

When the first copies arrived at the agency. First thing I always do is make sure the pages are in order. Then I can relax. Then, I don't know if it was me or someone else in the office but I became aware of a mistake on the cover,

Uh oh!

I was horrified!
As Dr. Strange used to say "Curse me for a novice!"
Of course no one in the greater world of comic books noticed but me.
But as many of you can attest, if you bring me a TOTB#1 I will happily repair the mistake and fill in the gap. I'll sign the correction too.

I learned how to live with mistakes.
They happen.

Hoka Hoka Burb'l Burb'l!

Bob Heer, a longtime Beanworld reader and proprietor of Gunk'l'dunk asked "Does Proffy turn invisible on page 146 or was that a mistake?"

My answer was "Bob, if I have to choose between Proffy going invisible or a creator error--I'll plead the mistake."

The proper panel is shown below. Proffy disappeared when I was converting the 22 layer PSD file into a 2 layer print-ready TIF (art and lettering on separate layers). Doing some forensic research into my PhotoShop files it looks like I was fixing a typo and deleted poor Proffy right at the moment she was making a profound observation about a key turning point in the Cuties' lives. 

I was kinda was surprised that my reaction was "Oh well, mistakes do happens." When and if the book is reprinted it will be corrected. 

But if you want to correct it yourself, feel free to download the panel and place it in your book.
Just think of it as Do-It-Yourself Beanworld 2.0

Hopefully I didn't make too many mistakes in this post.


Desert Scribe said...

I was wondering if there was some sort of production error in that Book 4 panel; thanks for confirming. If you ever do a book signing in Texas, maybe you can draw in a correction :)

However, I didn't notice that error on the cover of TotB #1, back when I saw it on the shelf at the newsstand thirtysomething years ago.

And neither error diminished my enjoyment of Beanworld. As a published author who's had his own share of mistakes escape into the wild, I feel your pain. But you move on, and try to make a different mistake next time.

Desert Scribe said...

Also, since you mentioned your time in advertising, I'd like to know your thoughts on the TV series Mad Men. Did you watch that show? If so, how did it compare with your experience in the ad biz?

Anonymous said...

kinda figured a layer had gone missing somehow. nice to see what it's supposed to look like. thanks. --carol