When I was writing 'Matthew and the Apocalypse', it turned out that I'd need some quotes for the boys’ stay in the basement, where I have made sure that there are some written and drawn cultural goods they can pass their time with.
Now I am a rather spontaneous and naive person, so I introduced without any second thoughts these quotes in the book, but when my publisher got hold of the script, he was apprehensive.
"You quote several children's songs in their full length. You cannot do that."
I was a somewhat crestfallen. People were supposed to have memorized the pretty songs for themselves when they read my book without having to go and look them up elsewhere. It seemed a little messy, but with printed matter, things must obviously not be too easy.
"What about the quotation right?"
We deleted the full text of the children's songs with the exception of the places where the copyright was not renewed. These are the quotes where I bring the entire text in the Danish version.
Then there are the comics. On my website, I have also material from others, and I've put it out in a process where I would like to keep the knowledge of the narrative comic books alive in a period where there is both a discouraging decline in attention and the physical accessibility has vanished.
In a way, I feel more and more like a custodian in a digital comics’ museum, where I try to keep up a little knowledge about the series and an interest in them for posterity. These days it is a hobbyhorse of mine and it probably makes some sense that things are not going completely into oblivion. My brother Ingo is often apprehensive on my behalf.
"It's not your stuff."
This may help when everything get digitalized because people want it for their I-pads and tablets, where the reading experience may come to resemble the printed editions. You can in fact already subscribe to certain comic books digitally. The old computer display as you are probably looking at right here is not good enough. Many users say they get headaches from watching a computer screen for a longer period. I wonder if you are not getting headaches from looking at tiny miniature reproductions of comics’ panels on a cell phone App?
Should some copyright holders feel bad about my initiative, I can quickly remove the files from my site. Before I put my Woody Woodpecker series out, I had already received feedback that it was economically unprofitable to reprint the albums on paper. I share at least a basic attitude and interest with the remaining publishers to maintain interest in that form of expression in a time when the availability of certain types of comics is not satisfactory.
This document cites some quotations from the comics where I was content with text quote in the book about Matthew. A comics fan helped me with digital files on 'The Golden Helmet' and '20.000 Leagues under the Sea' in the original version, but what about the English version of the Illustrated Classics 'The Count of Monte Cristo'? This version I could not find on the net.
In the end, Kim Thompson from Fantagraphics came to my aid.
"I’ve found a copy on e-Bay. We’ll buy the book and send scans of the pages you need." This he did, but in my crediting, I had become particular.
The next day I got an e-mail from Kim. The cartoonist’s name was Allen Simon. A name I was glad to get to know, for he has drawn several of the best-illustrated books in the series. Now at last to know his name fills me with an archivist’s or a historian's joy of finding forgotten knowledge.
Of course, this can seem a little boondoggle like to mention a cartoonist's name in a credit, where you do not have the opportunity to see the artwork, but that is the way of things.
"Thank you, Kim.”
Kim asked Mark, and it led to his upgrading of my English version of 'Rosa's Baby'. This is the second part of the Amelia book, which will have its own title on the web under the main heading 'Paragon'. This is 'Pamfilius' in English. There are two Paragon books. I sent Mark my version of 'Rosa's Baby'.
"Is it far from anything acceptable?"
This is precisely the case. Even if you think you can achieve a proper English wording, it does not sound quite correct for a native reader. As a writer, you do not want the reader to smile, laugh or point a finger at the inevitable mistakes. It pulls away attention from the essential, the story development.
Since you are a visitor on this site, you might have some fun reading the original versions of the quotations. I didn’t have to trouble Mark to find them.
I ended up by thanking Kim warmly for his help.
"It's alright. Maybe you can help me next time."
Shortly after, I received an e-mail from Kim. He was warming up for a new volume of his Fantagraphics series with thick books by Carl Barks with selected series from the golden age of ducks from the late forties and early fifties. The color setting carried out reminding as much as possible of the old coloring from the original comic books. No bullshit with tinted color gradations here, no.
"I have a problem. I need proofs of 'Christmas on Bear Mountain' but the ones I can get over here are lousy in the line art. Can you help find out if I can obtain some better copies?"
Later that day I contacted him by email.
"I've taken a look at the local publisher’s publication of the collected works of Carl Barks and it looks like Bear Mountain has an excellent line art there."
I gave him an e-mail address of the head of that division. Their comprehensive digital archive probably better organized than the one they have in the United States.
"Thank you, Freddy."
A few months later, I got the message that Kim had died from cancer. The mentioned contact was the last I had with him. May he rest in peace.