Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Late Shipping Hall of Shame, Part 2: The Readers Strike Back!

There was overwhelming response to my first Late Shipping Hall of Shame post, not only here on this blog but elsewhere as well. As promised, I'm compiling some of your suggestions here, selecting several more comics to be added to the Late Shipping Hall of Shame.

Okay, here we go:

Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do - Kevin Smith is always high in demand as one of the first big-name movie writers to dabble in comics, with his work on Daredevil & Green Arrow breathing new life into second-string characters that many had thought past their prime. So teaming him with fan-favorite artists Terry & Rachel Dodson on a Spider-Man project seemed like a great idea. Sure, the project might run a little late; while both the writer and artists didn't have a sterling track record, up to that point they hadn't seen some of the obscene delays that had plagued others. But putting them on a mini-series meant that Marvel could be a bit more tolerant of delays. Heck, Smith even went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to plug the book! But did anyone foresee a delay of over three years between issues three and four? I wonder if Smith wishes he'd kept on comics instead of shooting Jersey Girl? At least Smith came back to finish it, even if he set a record for a gap in a mini-series; a record that is in danger of being broken by:

Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk - A tale as old as time: Hollywood writer with a love of comics gets a chance to write a mini-series featuring his favorite super-heroes. He gets started, then better-paying Hollywood gigs get in the way and the next thing you know your comic is over two years late... and counting. Marvel and Lost impressario Damon Lindelof swear that the series will eventually be completed, and we believe them. Really...

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Yeah, we forgive Moore for Watchmen, as it wasn't nearly as late as our collective memory thinks it was. But LXG, after three monthly issues, took another another sixteen months to finish up its final three issues. Many people still admire Moore as a writer, but with the delays on this comic and others in the America's Best Comics line, Moore's ability to sell floppies has atrophied, with fans preferring to wait for the trade instead of dealing with long delays in the middle of his intricate plots.

Rising Stars - J. Michael Straczynski's super-powered magnum opus for Top Cow suffered a nearly two-year delay near the end, between issues #21 & 22, but it wasn't the same old Hollywood writer story. Instead, JMS was protesting being cut out of film-rights negotiations for his property and delayed his scripts. Communications broke down between the parties, but once Top Cow issued an apology (along with a transfer of some minor intellectual property) the final three issues of the series were completed.

Astro City - Kurt Busiek & Brent Anderson's fan-favorite street-level view of super-heroes never maintained a perfect monthly record, but one of the more unusual episodes in the annals of late shipping books occured when writer Busiek came down with mercury poisoning and book was delayed for nearly a year as he was unable to concentrate enough to write the intricate scripts. Thankfully Busiek recovered, and DC have enough confidence in him to give him the job writing the lead story in their upcoming weekly Trinity series. But Astro City never really recovered, and after transitioning to a series of mini-series and one-shots its sales have never recovered.

Ministry of Space - Artist Chris Weston showed up in the comments of the original Hall of Shame post to nominate his and Warren Ellis's retro-future space series for the long delay between its second and final issues. We forgive you, Chris!

No, this isn't the end of the Late Shipping Hall of Shame; there's still plenty more to come. Look for part three at some point probably next week. In the meantime, please keep your nominations coming!


QATim said...

What always interested me about Busiek's rough time with the diagnosis of his problems (as memory serves, there were a couple of other health issues he tried to address before it was finally determined to be mercury poisoning)--the whole time he was still putting out monthly issues of the Avengers, Iron Man and other shared universe books. Something with an established canon, he could knock out those stories. But with the book that was his universe (and therefore required a great deal more mental heavy lifting admittedly) like Astro City, it required a great deal more of him. Also it angered me (for Busiek) when some folks would reply "BS" when the health issues were brought up as a reason for the delay. It is a shame Astro City's sales suffered, as I still religiously pick up the issues as they come out. As long as kdb makes 'em, I'm buying them.

Unknown said...

I nominate Grant Morrison and Jim Lee's WildC.A.T.S. Just read on Newsarama (see the Christos Gage interview) that it isn't even considered to be in continuity anymore as the Wildstorm universe has moved on.

Joshua S. said...

l'd also like to mention Morrison & Lee's Wildcats, as well as Morrison's The Authority. Is Wildsotrm even attempting to keep those series going? Seems like it might be a fruitless effort, given how little we got and how long ago it was.

LurkerWithout said...

Are there any Warren Ellis "indy" books that wouldn't qualify? And he's planning two more. Man I want more Fell...