You’ll All Be Sorry

From 1999-2001, Gail Simone wrote an online humor column called You’ll All Be Sorry. It was the published work that brought her to most people’s attention, before she wrote comics like The Simpsons, Deadpool, Birds of Prey, Secret Six, or Wonder Woman.

Youll All Be Sorry cover
You’ll All Be Sorry
Cover by Scott Shaw!
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Now, About Comics is collecting many of these columns in print. The book was originally due in August, but it’s been rescheduled to January. I like the idea, but there are several problems with the execution:

The timeliness. As Gail indicates in her introduction, the comic industry was a very different place 10 years ago. The more you already know about what she’s referring to, the funnier the pieces are. Stand-alone classic humor for the ages this is not, but if you were part of the net around the year 2000, you’ll get a giggle out of the recognition and memories as she makes fun of fanfic wannabe writers, Alan Moore, Wizard magazine, Dave Sim, and the Batman and Robin movie.

The presentation. The columns are thrown in, one after another, with no indication of when they were originally published. Even better would have been notes by Gail putting the pieces in context and giving more insight into what motivated particular choices.

The format. It looks like a fanzine. It’s hard to tell where pieces start and end. When announcing the book’s delay, publisher Nat Gertler said

if you’ve seen other books of columns, you’ve seen that they tend to look like, well, flat piles of text, not necessarily the most appealing thing to the comics reader. To counter this, we gave each piece it’s own layout. We didn’t try to go hyper-slick, but the scripts look like scripts, the web pages look like web pages.

I would have rather have had the flat piles of text, especially if they had sufficient page margins. Many pages here run right off the page on the outside margin. The same thing happens internally, with text running into decorative page elements and text blocks crooked on the page. The idea of different layouts is good, but the execution is unprofessional. And all the various fonts and shaded boxes don’t make up for a near-complete lack of illustrations of any kind.

The best part of the book for me was the “Condensed Comic Classics”, many of which are new. Gail got her friends to write amusing summaries of the comics they work on. They’re funniest if you already know the titles, so you get the in-jokes.

In a case where most of the material is freely available online, a published edition should, in my opinion, add bonuses to entice the reader’s purchase. That might be an upscale, handsome binding (as when The Perry Bible Fellowship went to print); explanatory author notes (as Jen Sorensen did to freshen up her editorial cartoons); or new material you can’t get anywhere else. In this case, the book only aims for the latter, when the former two would have been much more appreciated by me. I can’t recommend the newsprint edition with sloppy layout we got.

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8 Responses to “You’ll All Be Sorry”

  1. Gail Says:

    Heh.

    Well, we thought about doing notes for each column but I have to admit I found the idea slightly nauseating. I hate that self-referential (and self-REVerential) stuff and particularly don’t feel it suits comedy well. But we can simply disagree on what serves the funny and what doesn’t.

    I thought Nat did an heroic job making the book fun to read and each piece is so clearly distinct that I find it has a nice, organic separation between the pieces. I’ve seen the yabs pieces in the flat pieces of text format you describe and frankly, it sucked to look at and read (this was for an earlier attempt at the book). I’m glad Nat chose a more distinctive approach for each column, although I do understand that it’s a lot of stuff crammed in there.

    What I am disturbed about is the problems you have with page run-off. I have a couple hundred copies, and while I haven’t looked through every one, I haven’t seen this printing error you mention (which is a pet peeve of mine, as well). I’d be happy to send you a replacement copy, Johanna, and I’m sorry you apparently got a futzy one. You still have my email, right? Send me your address and I’ll ship out a fresh copy post-haste, with my apologies. But I think what you’re describing is an anomaly (unless I’m completely missing it, but I’ve read several copies and haven’t seen that problem).

    I think the book is great fun (and I have to say, we did aim for a low price point rather than a deluxe binding–I hate the idea of gouging people who wanted this material) and Nat did a wonderful job on a difficult project. It’s something readers have been asking for forever, and all warts should be attributed directly to me and not to Nat or his fine company.

    As always, I love your reviews even when we disagree.

    Best wishes and send me your address for a corrected copy! :)

    Gail

  2. Gail Says:

    Oh, and my favorite ‘Condensed Comic Classic’ was Adam Hughes. Nice to see people being able to poke fun at themselves like that!

  3. Johanna Says:

    I was thinking notes because I wasn’t sure how many of your current fans remembered Bill Jemas at all, for example, let alone the specific references. Some of the mentions really taxed my memory, and I would have appreciated the help in recalling the details of the industry 8-10 years ago.

    Perhaps the outside margin runoff was an odd printing error… but since I saw similar spacing problems *inside* some of the text pieces themselves, I don’t think that explains all the issues I had with the layout. Thank you for your generous offer, but it’s not necessary. If it’s just my copy, then I’ll treasure it all the more for being “special”. :)

  4. James Schee Says:

    Interesting, I may look up some of those “free” samples to see what these were like. So I can decide if its something I’d like.

    During that time frame I’d just got online, and hadn’t really gotten off AOL for a comics online community.

    It might be fun to see and perhaps remember what was going on in comics and online during that times.

  5. Hsifeng Says:

    Johanna Says: “I was thinking notes because I wasn’t sure how many of your current fans remembered Bill Jemas at all, for example, let alone the specific references. Some of the mentions really taxed my memory, and I would have appreciated the help in recalling the details of the industry 8-10 years ago.”

    That’s the impression I got too. You didn’t seem to be wishing for “self-referential (and self-REVerential) stuff” at all. :)

  6. Gail Says:

    Yeah, but it’s still the problem of ‘explaining’ comedy, which I’m still loathe to do, as I think it’s a fun-destroyer at the best of times. The best commedy commentary tracks are the ones where they completely ignore the film and talk about something else, in my opinion. ;)

  7. Beau Smith Says:

    I look forward to the book. That Gail is a good time read girl.

    Beau

  8. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » Jan. 6, 2009: Plenty of seats Says:

    [...] [Review] You’ll All Be Sorry Link: Johanna Draper Carlson [...]

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