RANGE: Wherever mankind attempts to clarify thoughts by “putting them down on paper,” there will occur these magical, dadaist dwarves. Misdirecting typists’ fingers, distracting proofreaders and spreading dyslexia among publishers themselves, these creatures could once proudly call themselves the bane of civilized man. (Since the audio-visual revolution, however, with its laser-video-computer-disc holograms and all, civilized man is not always literate, or for that matter, civilized, and consequently times are tough for the Terrors— among other sentient beings.)
HABITS: These are defamatory characters. They insert inappropriate adjectives, libelous paragraphs, or simply misspelled words into the printed copy of literary reviews, small town newspapers, and supermarket tabloids. (Their work is rarely spotted in the latter.) The Terror’s mischief can be discovered only after publication, much to the delight of attorneys, letters-to-the-editor writers, and masochistic copy editors. Typographical Terrors are closely affiliated with Printers’ Devils and, if unable to achieve their ends at source, often cause the Devils to do their work for them on the printing press itself through such means as misplaced paragraphs, inverted credits, and mail order coupons with white type on black paper. They have been known to insert exploding recipes into cookbooks, unknown symbols into codebooks, hernia-causing directions into exercise books, and names of pastas into diet books of all kinds.
HISTORY: Typographical Terrors hail, naturally, from Gutenberg country —Germany. But their native language was already such an eye-glazing sauerkraut of vowels and consonants that much of their best work went unnoticed. They emigrated to France, where a misplaced accent grave has been known to give heart attacks to the entire Academie Française, and thence to the New World, where some of them have met the challenge of the electronic media by evolving into “Bloopers.”
SPOTTER’S TIPS: The furrows of IBM Selectrics, the industrial parks of Long Island and Northern California, and the offices of poetry presses are favored habitats of the Terrors. In winter, they are known to thrive on the alcoholic fluid of Liquid Paper, overdoses of which have frequently caused their deaths.