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Blog: The Book Of Doom (and Dennis)

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While all this ROCK preparation has been going on I have also been toiling away on some other projects, notably the EN-BOOK-IFICATION of my PhD thesis.

Last year I put together a PROPOSAL what I sent off to a Grown-Up Academic Publisher and, after some to-ing, fro-ing and REVIEWING, it got ACCEPTED. Since then I have been working hard on turning the thesis into an Actual Book that people could Actually Read, and I tell you this: it has not been EASY.

For a start, a PhD thesis is a very different proposition to an Actual Book, as the thesis tends to include all sorts of stuff that no normal reader wants to know, like huge showing off about your methodological research, how you came round to deciding to do the research you're doing, what the failed attempts were, and ESPECIALLY a long, long list of all the things that this specific thesis ISN'T.

This last bit did my head in at the time. It's recommended so that when you have your VIVA you can say "AHA! The reason I did not do the thing you think I should have done is explicitly written in the thesis itself!" and it has to be said that it proved to be quite useful when the time came, but it was a DELIGHT to be able to go through and take it all OUT again. Similarly there was a whole section about how I periodised The Marvel Age which a) is GRATE but b) is a whole other thing and c) is being published elsewhere (hopefully) so doesn't need to go in.

I thought this was all going to be fairly peasy, but it turned out to be anything but. Going through the thesis I discovered that making it into a book about the IDEAS rather than the CHRONOLOGY of doing it meant that I had to do a complete re-structure to make it make any sense at all. I also found that there was TONNES of repitition which needed to be sorted out, and also (WHISPER IT) some MISTAKES that needed to be corrected.

It took flipping AGES, but even THAT was not the biggest job. For LO! the aforesaid reviewers had all suggested that doing the whole thing about Doctor Doom wasn't enough. It was all well and good using him as the case study for my Unified Catalogue Of Transmedia Character Componenents, they said, but they wanted me to do it on some other characters too to show that it wasn't just a Doctor Doom Assessor. This meant, in effect, doing the WHOLE PROJECT all over again!

All right it wasn't quite that drastic - the Catalogue was all worked out so I didn't need to do THAT again, but I did need to identify a CORPUS and SAMPLE of texts, read all the texts, get the information out of them, ANALYSE it all, and then write about it. After much THORT I eventually decided to analyse a (much smaller) bunch of texts about DENNIS THE MENACE!

"Ah!" you might say, "but WHICH Dennis The Menace eh?" This is an excellent question, and the answer is BOTH! For those who don't know, there are two entirely different characters, both called Dennis The Menace, with one appearing in newspaper strips in the USA and the other in The Beano in the UK. In what everybody calls "Comics' greatest coincidence" (because it is) BOTH these characters were first published on THE VERY SAME DAY in 1951, entirely independently of each other, and have carried on ever since. It is WEIRD, but also TRUE!

I thought it might be a good test to carry out an analysis of them to see what the Catalogue could come up with. THUS I put together a sample of texts featuring both characters throughout their history and used my CATALOGUE to see what was the same about them (SPOILERS: mostly the name), what was different (pretty much everything else) and what these differences could tell us about the cultures they came from (A LOT). It turned out to be a GRATE thing to do full of FASCINATING stuff which I very much look forward to unleashing upon a waiting world at some point soon-ish (soon in academic terms anyway, a while away in normal human terms!).

At the moment I'm waiting for some comments to come back before I go through and do a final draft and then - OH JOY - I have the pleasure of Sorting Out The References And Formatting. This is something I used to do for my old boss at Birkbeck, and it was clear that he handed it over to me because it is A MASSIVE PAIN. Still, I'm hoping to get it all done in the next few weeks and then it is HO! for Peer Review! I'm sure that will be FINE!

posted 3/5/2023 by MJ Hibbett

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