Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Late Shipping Hall of Shame

These days, comics are late all the time. But some late-shipping titles stand out, due to their extreme lateness, frequncy of lateness, or their impact. For those titles, we are creating the Late Shipping Hall of Shame!

Here are our nominees:



Camelot 3000 - The granddaddy of them all. Back in the days of newsstand distribution, comics just weren't late. If a story wasn't ready to go in time, the editor would pull an inventory story from the drawer and run it instead. Because the newsstand distribution wasn't going to wait for the next issue of X-Men or Batman. But Camelot 3000 was one of DC's first direct-only titles, so the newsstand rules didn't apply. Brian Bolland is a wonderful artist, but these days editors know that to give the man a monthly book would be crazy talk. A number of delays plagued the book, with the result that the final isuse of the twelve-issue series came out more than a year later than originally planned. Not the worst delay ever, but certainly a harbinger of things to come...



Action Comics, Superman & Wonder Woman ca. late 2006/early 2007 - 2006 was to be a big year for Superman & Wonder Woman, with high-profile creative teams coming on board to give these stalwarts a needed boost. But small delays became longer delays, resulting in issues being published out-of-order and causing much embarassment for DC editorial.



All-Star Batman & Robin - Hey, let's get Frank Miller and Jim Lee to do a Batman comic together! Of course, Frank is busy becoming the latest darling of Hollywood, and Jim is also a VP in the company. Sure they'll sell a lot of Batman comics, but what made the powers-that-be think that this would come out monthly? The result was a comic that shipped just one issue during all of 2006, and saw a sixteen-month gap between issues #4 & 5.



Civil War - The delays weren't super terrible during Marvel's Civil War; but with so many other spin-off books tieing in tightly to the plot, delays of a few weeks in the core title saw a ripple effect that devestated a large chunk of Marvel's line-up. Sure Civil War sold like gangbusters, but how much money was lost because issues of Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America didn't ship?



Spider-Man "One More Day" - Remember how the big ending to JMS's Spider-Man was to come out weekly? But rewrites and other delays meant that it came out less-than-monthly, and pushed back the debut of the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man, leaving one of Marvel's best-selling books on the sidelines for several months.



The Ultimates - The first Ultimates series saw many long delays, but they were going to not have that problem with Ultimates 2, as artist Brian Hitch would work far enough ahead that it wouldn't be a problem. Right? But series 2 saw the same type of delays in the back half that plagued series 1. But all would be well with series 3, as the delays on series 2 meant that the new creative team would have plenty of lead time to get issues in the can. Oops...



Powers - It seems like not a week goes by when the Diamond Shipping Updates don't include a shift of one or two weeks on a Powers comic. And yet, they still pretend that this will be a monthly, and even recently decided to increase the page count! It's time for Marvel to get real and admit that Powers will always be a bi-monthly-at-best book.



Astonishing X-Men - Debuting in 2004, this seemed like a match in heaven, with Joss Whedon & John Cassady taking on everyone's favorite mutants. Sure, a decompressed story lasting 24-issues might seem to take a bit long, but that would also mean a new top-selling trade collection every six months for those who prefer to wait for the trade. Alas, Whedon has Hollywood fish to fry, and Cassady, while a superb artist, has never been known for his speed. As a result, this slow-moving story has dragged on and on, and any surprises from the final (double-sized--wait twice as long!) issue are pretty much moot as the rest of the X-Men line has decided to move along without it. Theoretically this means that the new creative team of Ellis & Bianchi have plenty of time to work ahead, but we saw how well that worked with Ultimates...



Planetary - A comic that gets written whenever Warren Ellis gets around to it, and then John Cassady tries to squeeze in drawing it if he's waiting for an X-Men script from Whedon. Fine, we know what we're getting into. But there's just one issue remaining in the series, which means that the final trade collection is being held up as well. One might think that the potential paycheck for finishing just one more issue would spur the creators to finish the darn thing.



American Flagg hardcover collections - Image announced these way back in 2004, but they still haven't seen the light of day. They promise a Summer 2008 release for the first volume at the San Diego Comic Con; Howard Chaykin has reportedly said that he won't believe it until someone actually hands him one to sign.



Those are my choices for the Late Shipping Hall of Shame. Agree? Disagree? What other comics would you add?

24 comments:

Steven said...

I suppose technically Big Numbers #3 doesn't count...

Dave Carter said...

Was BN #3 ever actually solicited?

JK Parkin said...

Kevin Smith's Spider-Man/Black Cat (which was eventually finished) and Daredevil: The Target (which never was).

Kelson said...

IIRC, Ellis wrote the script for the last issue of Planetary a year ago. Of course, that still means Cassaday has to draw it...

Jason said...

Stray Bullets

Mikester said...

Don't forget Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine...two years overdue and counting!

toonhead-npl said...

And let's not forget Neal Adams' Ms. Mystic. The cover dates on #1 and 2 were Oct. 1982 and #2 Feb. 1984 respectively, but I recall it taking longer than that.

QATim said...

I have to say, the Internet makes me a far less sympathetic person at times. Many is the time you read a delay is connected to personal issues/family matters. Many is the time that with certain creators you want to cry "BS", also. But I distinctly remember talking to a creator at Heroes Con last year, just chatting casually, and almost out of the gate (with no provocation--I was not even reading his comic at that time...) he shared how he hated how late his book had become. He then proceeded to tell me about his ill mother and the struggles of trying to decide the course of care for her and you could eee how:
A) He was worried about his mother's welfare
B) Felt horrible about the impact his (proper) shift in priorities had wrought on his schedule for the book.

I don't add this to the mix to say we can't complain about late books, merely the fact that every once and awhile there might be a valid reason for the lateness.

Now for the chronic bastards of lateness, editors should know by now--get a whole arc or miniseries in the can before releasing any issues.

Great post, Dave.

Dave Lartigue said...

The third and final issue of Grant Morrison/Duncan Fegredo's Kid Eternity miniseries was way late, as I recall. Or maybe it just seemed that way.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

I'm still waiting for Hex #19.

I think I'm gonna be waiting quite a while

alex said...

I seem to recall the latter issues of the ABC line having some lateness problems. And damn, if I remember correctly the first League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series came out in March of '99 and didn't end 'til like, late the next year. Of course, I'll invoke the ol' Watchmen argument on it's behalf... who the hell cares how late it was, the trade reads amazing and I'd rather they took their time and did it right then rush it and screw it up.

Jones, one of the Jones boys said...

Superhero comics ain't shit when it comes to being late. You want late, try Cages, Acme Novelty Library, Berlin...and of course Hepcats.

thekamisama said...

If Big Numbers doesn't count, then how does Planetary? The last issue has never even been solicited. I think while it is frustrating, it is not truely late.
I notice that we don't see some of the big classic of chronic lateness (Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns) nor the wholesale lateness of "hot comic" publishers like Dreamwave, Cliffhanger, Every Rob Liefeld company, Top Cow, etc. They probably deserve the award as a group more than anyone.

Loren said...

I nominate Mike Kunkel.

His first mini-series, "Herobear and the Kid," had five issues over the span of two years. I'm not sure how they were all spaced, but there were ten months between #4 and #5.

His two-issue follow-up crossover, "Herobear/Decoy: Field Trip," had its first issue ship in July 2002. The second issue is still MIA, almost SIX YEARS later. Kunkel has since confirmed that the second issue will not be forthcoming. (That's right, a two issue mini-series won't be completed.)

A three-issue Herobear mini-series, Herobear: Saving Time, had its first issue solicited in December 2003 for release in February 2004. That didn't happen. The mini was subsequently announced on his website as having been changed to a graphic novel. Regardless, over FOUR YEARS after the first issue was solicited, there is still no product in any form.

And it may be premature, but the highly anticipated "Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam" was originally announced as being planned for release in "early 2008." DC has so far released solicitations through June 2008, and it has yet to appear.

Kelson said...

Top Cow... that reminds me of Rising Stars and Midnight Nation. When JMS got into a feud with Top Cow over the movie treatment of Rising Stars (What I remember hearing is that the deal stipulated that they'd keep him informed of the project's progress, and they just stopped telling him anything even when he asked), he started delaying his scripts. Both books went from monthly to bimonthly, then longer (which led to the WTC appearing on the cover of Midnight Nation several months after 9.11).

Midnight Nation wrapped up with delays of only months. But there there was a 2-year gap between Rising Stars #21 and #22. During that time, JMS went to Marvel and started writing Supreme Power.

De said...

Astro City's schedule was delayed for nearly a year due to Kurt Busiek getting mercury poisoning.

Matt C said...

Does the Morrison/Lee relaunch of Wildcats count? I know there's only been one issue so far, but also, THERE'S ONLY BEEN ONE ISSUE SO FAR!!

It's not that difficult to put out a second issue, is it? I mean, they managed it with The Authority relaunch....

RedheadFangirl said...

How about the series that just disappear? I still joke with someone about "Where is Mr. Stuffins?"...

Sam Humphries said...

Havoc and Wolverine! Drove me nuts as a kid.

LurkerWithout said...

Lets see, Top 10 and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen got mentioned. And Rising Stars. Spider-Man/Black Cat, Daredevil: The Target and Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk...

Hmmm. Kirkman's Savage Dragon: God War and Super-Patriot minis both had massive delays. Though it was nice to see Kirkman step up and take the whole blame for them and then apologize...

I recall delays in books like Battlechasers before the team seemed to just give up...

Ellis as you noted can be particularly bad about delays. In addition to those already up, Fell and newuniversal spring to mind...

And since taking over as EiC for Image delays with Savage Dragon have gone from somewhat rare to expectable...

Knights of the Dinner Table tends to have its schedule knocked around at the start of every gaming convention season. Constant pauses in its publishing schedule are part of what put me off Dork Tower as well...

Chris Weston said...

Can I nominate myself and Warren Ellis for Ministry of Space Issue 3? Only eighteen months between that and the previous chapter.

Sorry, chaps.

Josh said...

Spider-man Black Cat, Daredevil: Target, and Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk should all make the list. Black Cat was finally finished three years after the third issue shipped, I think Target is officially cancelled, and who the hell knows what's up with Wolverine & Hulk. I'm starting to think it never existed to begin with.

googum said...

Scud the Disposable Assassin, which appears to be on time now...after a decade or so hiatus.

To go even more obscure, I loved Ken Steacy's Tempus Fugitive, which was later than I can recall right now...at least a year, though. And the rest of Mike Baron's Sonic Disruptors is still forthcoming never...

Jim said...

on the other hand:

http://www.ifanboy.com/content/articles/Late_Comics__Jim_vs__Jim