Having received my copy of The Steve Ditko Archives: Volume 3 more than a month ago and still not having the time to read it I was suprised to learn that it is missing two pages…
Blake Bell (author of the collection) has posted the following statement/reaction via his blog:
I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ll share with you “the whys” later because I don’t want to distract from the issue at hand: two pages are missing from my latest book, Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives vol. 3.
Fantagraphics has posted a print-worthy .pdf of both pages so that they can be printed off and inserted into the book where the missing pages should be. We’re also going to reprint both stories in full in the next volume, so that collectors have every Ditko story as they should.
Everyone should know this: the buck stops with me regarding these types of concerns. Not with Fantagraphics – with me. Ultimately, I review the final .pdf of the entire book, going over every page, matching it against the table of contents, etc. I’m over 1600 pages into my career of supervising the production of my books and this is worse than a knife in the gut.
I won’t bore you with excuses or even reasons why this happened. Instead, I’d like to share with you the additional methods that I’ll be putting into place for validating the contents of every book of mine to ensure we mitigate the risk of this ever happening again.
First, I’ll be employing two “checkers” for the final .pdfs of each Ditko and Everett Archives. These will be people who know those artists and are experienced in such matters.
Second, checking the final .pdf via the printed comics will be done twice: once from the beginning of each story, and once in reverse (i.e., starting with the last page of a story and working backwards to page one). This book/experience has taught me that life can lead to the brain playing funny tricks on the mind, and there’s no effort too great to ensure we prevent this in future volumes.
Third, as an added measure, I’ll also be checking the final .pdf, page-by-page, versus the Grand Comics Database – the site on the Internet for referencing over one million comic-book stories published since the industry began.
In closing, if I may beg your indulgence – opening my snail-mail box once a year, pulling out the envelope from Fantagraphics and holding a brand new copy of my book – that I’ve poured my heart and soul into every night after coming home from my day job, looking after my children, etc. – is one of the greatest satisfactions available to me as a writer-editor and as a person. Getting this news was my darkest day because without the dedication of a core group of serious fans of this work, these Archives volumes would not be possible. I thank you all again for your continued support in my efforts to get this rare work into print, and look forward to another opportunity to do so.
I have sympathy for Bell considering the amount of work put into these archives. Mistakes happen and with hardcover reference copies like these it certainly pays to have them; regardless of the two missing pages. However contrary to Blake’s last sentence – which calls the stories “rare work” – these stories are all public domain and readily available via comic scan sites. So the two missing pages can also be read along with other Ditko public domain illustrations that are yet to be printed in the archive series.