Superman Through the Ages! Forum

Superman Through the Ages! => Supermanica => Topic started by: India Ink on August 24, 2007, 03:36:25 PM

Title: Tone
Post by: India Ink on August 24, 2007, 03:36:25 PM
This has probably been discussed at length by the regular Supermanica contributors, but since I couldn't find a topic in which it was discussed, I decided to create one.

As an admirer of the Fleisher books, and having used them for lo these last thirty years, there is something about the tone that I admire. And the more I read Supermanica, the more I find that this tone gets lost. It makes for jumpy reading on my part.

At times I know I'm in Fleisher land where all the conceits of the original work are at play. But as soon as the tone shifts, I lose that illusion, and I'm just reading another database.

Tone is an elusive thing, of course. But I think part of what made the Fleisher text work was some of the basic assumptions. Such as the original stories are concrete, later stories are not necessarily so. Certain alterations to the character are given higher prority. Side characters are downplayed if they do not take leading parts in the canonical works. Most disagreements between works are smoothed over with catch phrases ("a chronicler's error").

Working from this base of assumptions leads Fleisher to the kind of tone he uses.

However, I realize that Supermanica isn't trying to be Fleisher, so maybe replicating his tone is not the thing to do. But as a cohesive work it has to have some kind of uniform tone, I think.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: Great Rao on August 24, 2007, 05:04:49 PM
I agree, I love the Fleisher tone, which is one of the reasons that I started Supermanica.  When I had time to be a more active editor, I would often do my best to emulate that tone in my own writings and to mold content by other editors into the same style.

I think it needs to be understood that Supermanica has many contributors, all with different writing styles, different skills, and different things to offer.

If any particular individual has a keen ear for, and appreciation of, the Fleisher style, that person's efforts in fixing any jarring content that he or she may come across would certainly be appreciated.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: MatterEaterLad on August 24, 2007, 05:25:59 PM
I try to emulate the tone as well.

There are a few entries that are a "blow by blow" description of a comic or character that would take a lot of re-writing to make it match the book tone more closely. Usually, those I've merely corrected for the proper present tense - its difficult without having the comic to re-write from the "and then this happened, and then that happened" approach.

I sometimes think that the big entries are kind of jarring when Fleischer text is mixed with other text.

And while I love the tone of the book, sometimes I do think that merely copying it is not the way to go either.

To really get Supermanica to flow as one piece of work would probably be a long-term full time job for more than one person, so I try to concentrate on accuracy, tense, citations.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: Super Monkey on August 24, 2007, 07:17:17 PM
Before I ever got TGSB, I was amaze at how close I got it without even trying.

one of my earliest entries before getting TGSB done in  March 10, 2005:
The entry on the same subject from the actual book I got a few days later on March 15 2005:

Other times I am way off, and you can all go ahead and edit them to match the writing style if you like. Yet other times I try hard to keep the same tone so much, that that I have fooled some people into thinking that the entry was from TGSB when it didn't actual exist there.

All that taken into account, I am not so sure that it should be a rule, however.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: MatterEaterLad on August 24, 2007, 08:07:57 PM
Oh yeah, there have been a couple of times when someone thought one of mine was from the TGSB too.

I do think that if we all stick to the format of present tense, and relating the entry to Superman's "life" that its a good attempt.

Also, examples would be good. I think the few people that are really in it for the long haul have done a decent job of checking references, making sure the spelling and grammar is up to snuff, etc.

Help is always welcome.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: India Ink on August 25, 2007, 11:37:37 AM
The guidelines do point the way toward a more consistent style. But some samples would probably help.

In laying out web pages, I'm in favour of giving the visitor little bits of info at a time. So you wouldn't want to overload them with too much information in the guidelines, but links to further aid the sincere contributor might help.

I'd provide the contributor with a good sample (probably from TGSB itself) that shows the overall style.

Fleisher entries break down generally into three types: Brief--a basic description and reference to the story the character appeared in, but not much else. Medium length--a few paragraphs about the character (descriptions lifted from the stories, alternative names,...) and then a synoptic review of all the pertinent stories that character appeared in. And large entries--those reserved for Superman and his immediate connections--which are much more expansive.

The contributor could be guided (via links) to a sample from one of these three categories depending on which model their entry best fits.

I find additions from later continuity a little jarring. But maybe that's just me.

For instance, I don't like that Alfred is listed as "Alfred Pennyworth" in his entry. Alfred has little appeared in Superman stories--or World's Finest team-ups--and isn't mentioned in TGSB. In the Batman encyclopedia, Fleisher refers to Alfred's last name as a minor mystery of the chronicles (even though Fleisher well knew that Pennyworth was being used at the time he was writing the book--and even though Fleisher refers to a few Batman stories that appeared after the Pennyworth name was established).  Since, in fact, Alfred's last name wasn't used (with one or two exceptions--and never Pennyworth) in the first 25 years of his existence, I think that's a point to be indirectly underscored in his very short Supermanica entry by not being too declarative about the last name. And therefore the sentence--"Pennyworth is privy to the secret of the Dynamic Duo's dual identities, as well as that of their colleague Superman a.k.a. Clark Kent (First Appearance: Batman No. 16, Apr/May 1943: "Here Comes Alfred")."--while it has a nice tone in general, suffers for the use of "Pennyworth" rather than "Alfred."

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: MatterEaterLad on August 25, 2007, 02:16:30 PM
I agree more or less with the Alfred example, it is possible for a user to make those changes to the entry. Maybe not in this case, but in many, after Weisinger left, DC made a conscious effort to interweave the DC universe, making for more interconnections with Superman.

While I like TGSB approach, it is very individual to that author and his wording is entertaining but sometimes impossibly dense. I like the use of descriptions of characters from the books themselves, but often I have found that there is a need to get some entries in. I never bought a comic after 1972, but I have added around 200 Bronze Age entries because they need to be there. I generally search for info from the darkmark indexes, the work of you guys on the old DC Message board, and then do a search for any blogs, sites etc. that can add info. I check the character's occurence using the normal indexes.

A few things are true.  The source of canonical references are much more diverse. Even the marked changes in Superboy over 40 some years was something Fleisher didn't have to deal with. Another is that this is open source in style, its been hard enough to keep new contributors from not discussing authors, their own opinions, post-Crisis stories, or even to get them to write in consistent tense.

For me, as much as I like Fleisher and want to keep much of his style, I also have little interest in merely duplicating it - both because its very close to copywrite violation and because his work was guided by the very small team of himself and his editor.

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: TELLE on August 28, 2007, 06:08:13 AM
Maybe we should have an intro "tone" faq with examples --something to work on along with everything else.  I always strive for the same thing.  There are some entries where we've decided that a quick "stub" entry on a JLA or Legion character is more important than a full-blown entry with references and quotes (stubs are easier to write and pad out the project so that users/newcomers feel that it at least tries for the basics) but these stubs should later be fleshed out and edited mercilessly.

I've tried for the TGSB tone in some of the Bronze Age entries I've edited/created but it is a fine line and sometimes creating any kind of entry takes precedence over artistry.

"Just another database"?  Now that hurts.  :'(

Title: Re: Tone
Post by: India Ink on August 28, 2007, 11:03:27 AM
I imagine the Encyclopedist (our fictional narrative voice who catalogues these entries) as an educated man or woman that, however, has had no contact with the outside world except via books which he keeps in his large library.

The Encyclopedist gives some credence to other books, but he gives greatest importance to those comic books that arrive in his dusty letterbox as these portray the most vivid picture of the world out there that he imagines must exist.

As the Encyclopedist believes the comics to be true (and apparently all the letterpages are cut out, before they arrive in the letterbox--some sort of Darma Initiative must be manipulating things behind the scenes), there should never be an assumption that puts the reality of the comic book in jeopardy.

And while Earth 2 and others now must be accepted, the Encyclopedist still believes that Superman exists in his/her world and has existed since Action Comics no. 1 (therefore there is one a priori Superman, although there may be several a posteriorialternates--as even TGSB admits to some degree).

Of course, it's impossible to enforce this assumption in Supermanica--but certain words that refer to our reality might be avoided.  Saying some story is a revision, for instance, is the wrong way to put it, in my view. Commenting, instead, that "the chroniclers seem to disagree on this point" or "there are alternate versions of this story in the chronicles" sounds better to me.

However, I like longwinded writing (when it serves a purpose), where others might want to be more direct.