To Rogues’ or not to Rogues? That is the question…

Posted on Jan 16, 2014

When Firbolg Publishing’s editing team met to discuss a new anthology idea, The Rogues Gallery was at the top of the list . Grisly images from the 1800s newspaper The Illustrated Police News and modern flash fiction inspired by the drawings? We loved it. Plus there’s the film noir title. Even better. But wait a sec, folks. Is there an apostrophe in there or not? I had a college research flashback  and  headed to Google. Here is what I learned:

A rogues gallery (or rogues’ gallery) is a police collection of pictures or photographs of criminals and suspects kept for identification purposes. The term is also used figuratively for any group of shady characters or the line-up of ‘mugshot’ photographs that might be displayed in the halls of a dormitory or workplace.

SO! The term is used both with and without an apostrophe. Which is more common? We decided to use the most common usage, but neither stood out. There are bars, restaurants, blogs, books, albums, films, television shows, and short stories that use the phrase. Both versions appear with the same frequency. Is this is a British/ American usage difference? No, it appears to be more a matter of preference.

So what to do? We had our cover design team create two different images. One with the shady character known as THE APOSTROPHE and one without. We preferred the streamlined look without the shady character. The cover is completed. One more thing off the checklist. Sigh of relief.

I was checking my email one afternoon, and I received a concerned email from one of our sharp-eyed authors. You have a grammar error in the cover. WHAT??? It should be Rogues’ Gallery. I quickly responded, explaining the variant, but a kernel of concern had been planted in my stomach. What if most people saw it as an error? If one person immediately spotted the difference, will that be the majority perspective? Over coffee, we huddled together to discuss the matter.

The final decision was a difficult choice, but we chose The Rogues Gallery. The shady character known only by his alias  was not joining our lineup this time around.

Eagle-eyed reviewers, readers, and authors will notice the lack of the notorious criminal element known only as THE APOSTROPHE. His presence will be missed. But our lineup is just fine without him. He might have even caused a bit of trouble here and there. Better we keep him under lock and key for now. He’s a dangerous character in the Al Capone style, and we’re keeping the world safe from such a gangster!