I consider myself meticulous (sometimes overly so) when it comes to research. So sometimes I’m just as surprised to realize what I’ve overlooked as I am to see what I discover.
Case in point: Jerry Bails’s 1965 fanzine article “If the Truth Be Known or A Finger in Every Plot,” which I’ve already mentioned on this blog.
The only way I’ve seen it reproduced is black type on white background, and I never thought twice about the accuracy of that.
It will most likely be visible in a scene in my 2012 book about Bill Finger, uncredited co-creator, original writer, and motif designer of Batman. Therefore, I included an image of it in the extensive group of visual references I gathered for our illustrator, Ty Templeton. Luckily, Ty thought a step further than I did.
He asked “[Was the fanzine a] magazine, a mimeographed and stapled set of papers, a folded newsprint?”
I asked Jerry’s widow Jean, who (understandably) didn’t know, which sent me asking others who are various kinds of experts on the era or the subject.
One said it had not black but rather purple “ditto printing.” I was then directed to a fanzine collector who has an original copy. He responded almost instantly but he didn’t e-mail me a scan. He mailed me his original. And so promptly that I received it the next day. And so now I know that the article actually looked like this:
Not only is the printing purple but the paper blue.
Yes, this kind soul mailed a stranger his only copy of an irreplaceable piece of pop culture history. Trust and kindness of this magnitude balances out for people who are like this.
Had my book shown this fanzine page in black and white, it would not have been a factual goof of significance. But as I always say, I don’t care how small the detail; if I can get it right, I want to.