‘You should know to leave well enough alone’
“… obviously, you look at your own early work and you’re sometimes dismayed. Was I that bad? Did I use that cliché, miss that nuance, mess up that character beat? But it’s also why you should know to leave well enough alone – because the you that’s doing the correcting isn’t the you who wrote the original work.”
– Mike Carey, on the temptation for creators to revise their early work
Carey’s comments come from a comics place (he’s starts with the example of the new edition of Chester Brown’s Ed the Happy Clown), but he’s also talking about The Borrowers, Star Wars and any other occasion when a creator attempts to update art from younger days so that it’s in line with the mature creator’s worldview.
While he’s not setting rules for other people, Carey makes a strong case that since it’s no longer the same creator, the update is rarely going to satisfy. “We can respond to the story in any way we like,” he writes, “but obviously the only person who can dictate how it’s told is the original creator – and if he changes his mind, as Brown evidently did, then that’s entirely his prerogative.” However, “after such a long time has elapsed the original creator might not be the most sympathetic editor of his own earlier work – and little good is likely to come from revisiting it.”