21 Comments

  1. A detail that I would have liked to see would have been Nick’s feet. In Grimm’s Fairy Tales (as well as their collection of “Legends”, which are not well known outside of Germany), the devil is often described as having a “hoof”. I don’t think any of those old stories mentions the tail.

  2. Hooved, horned, and tailed is the standard description of the/a devil, at least in my experience. Cloven hooves, at that. But hooves require digitigrade legs, which are awkward to draw, so the artist took the easy way out…

  3. Why is there a lit stick of dynamite on top of the bulletin board and a piece of blueberry pie in front of the garage door?

  4. Well I was waiting to see if my lost previous reply (not the one with the Medium link) would resurface on its own. But since it hasn’t, I will reconstruct it in brief.

    I was wondering if people know only this version, with “the devil”, or are also familiar with a version that goes “God is in the details”. I think I used to hear only the “God” version.

    And I always heard it attributed to Mies (that is, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe), and then later thought that was “officially” debunked. But that Medium article (via link and discussion to Phrases UK site) and others mostly rehabilitates that attribution, for the “God” version anyway, and in German first.

    If you are familiar with both versions, do you take any difference in meaning from them? I can make up a difference, but am not sure if it’s reflected in actual widespread usage. What do you think?

  5. jjmcgaffey, thanks for the new word! Digitigrade. Use it in an email today. (With apologies to The Allusionist podcast)

  6. Never heard of the Deity involved with details. Seemed to be the workplace of demons & lawyers.

  7. Now that you mention it, I’ve heard both versions, and never noticed the apparent disparity; I’ve always taken it as following the speaker’s current mindset: if he positively disposed then details reveal more, and that’s good, so it’s God there; if negatively disposed, then details reveal ever more problems, so it’s the devil.

    When I review my own programming code, then God is in the details, because I’m so clever, if you’d only bother to look; when I review someone else’s code, then the devil is in the details, because they left an obscure edge case bug…

  8. from WikiPedia: “The devil is in the detail” is an idiom that refers to a catch or mysterious element hidden in the details,[1] meaning that something might seem simple at a first look but will take more time and effort to complete than expected [2] and derives from the earlier phrase, “God is in the detail” expressing the idea that whatever one does should be done thoroughly; i.e. details are important.

  9. I like Lark’s take on the two phrases, and that is pretty much how I would interpret them. What blows my mind is that in the Vartanian article, the “Devil…” version is first attributed in the 1990’s. I am sure I had heard it way before that, like possibly back in college. I know I heard it before I ever ran across the “God is…” version.

  10. ” I am sure I had heard it way before that, like possibly back in college. I know I heard it before I ever ran across the ‘God is…’ version.”

    Concurrance.

  11. Digitigrade legs aren’t hard to draw if the subject is wearing pants with legs wide enough to obscure the location of the hock, and since goat legs are thinner than human legs, normal trousers will do fine.

  12. @ Kelly Hart – Although the link that Andréa provided gives more information than anyone ever needed about Bizarro’s Easter eggs, it’s still worth mentioning that it used to be an occasional sidelight, but has now gotten out of hand. Seven of them in a daily panel is just ridiculously excessive; that counts both of the crowns on the uniforms. Such repeats are not unheard of, but are (or were) rare.

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