These dicey days: Up, up and…gone

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For everyone wondering if mainstream comics are so tired that “the general zeitgeist seems to be that mainstream comics are spent right now” maybe this is part of the reason why.

For those too lazy to click basically, a Cincinnati retailer got the mayor of his suburban town and everyone else on board with a promotion for the story in SUPERMAN #703, where the Man of Steel, doing his Kerouac walk around America, visits Cincinnati. There was an entry in a parade, banners, flyers…you name it.

Only SUPERMAN #703 isn’t coming out in 9/15 as planned. It’s coming out a month later.

Retailer Kendall Swafford writes:

Naming names got me a lot of hate mail last time, but… I know for a fact that as of August 18th, the day DC’s The Source blog announced that Cincinnati was Superman’s next destination, there was no script.  28 days to go, and J. Michael Straczynski had not turned the script in.  Gotta be penciled, inked, lettered, colored, printed and shipped in 28 days.  This is the same J. Michael Straczynski that has very publicly proclaimed his love for Superman, who can’t/won’t/didn’t turn the script in on time.  Famously late on Thor, never finished The Twelve, loves Superman more than any other comic character, and he isn’t living up to his end of the deal.  Straczynski made me a Thor fan, and I didn’t think that was possible.  So I was genuinely excited to see him move to DC and take on the Man of Steel.  But if you can’t stand the pressures of delivering twenty-two pages every thirty days, write someplace else.


Ouchie.

Comments

  1. Comic2read says:

    He writes a good Superman book so I don’t mind waiting, It’s an original idea for Superman to walk and talk with the common folk.

    I wish though he didn’t change Wonder Woman into a boring Politically Correct costume so that’s why I refuse to buy that book.

  2. I do find it really surprising that DC isn’t trying to milk this walk for everything it’s worth, what with its specific tie-ins to certain parts of the country.

    As for the scheduling — that’s unfortunate.

  3. DC’s lousy marketing and editorial departments strike again. Talk about lost opportunities.

  4. I’ve been saying this back since he was months late on Spider-Man way back when, JMS Lateness shows nothing but contempt for comics. Back then the book was late because his TV work was taking up to much time. Try using that excuse in any other industry or any other job in the world and not get your ass fired. And of course that only works one way, you never hear about JMS or any of the other creators who have come other media in the past decade or so telling their production companies or network “well this weeks episode is going to be a few weeks late, my comic book work is taking a lot of time”.

    The really sad part is both the companies and the fans bend over and take it.

  5. Jeff Albertson says:

    So, retailer gets screwed, DC loses opportunity to ge tgood publicity, and causes other folks to get egg on their face. Thanks, JMS.

  6. Micah says:

    I wonder if Wonder Woman is going to have the same scheduling issues. If so, now I’ve been burned on Allen Heinberg’s run, and possibly JMS’ as well. If Wonder Woman is late, I’m dropping it now, where my investment is only 3 issues. Next big name on any character is definitely getting the trade treatment. Good luck with your monthly business plan DC.

  7. DC really need to try and fix their problems with delays on major books, they go through these moments where everything is late then they’ll start getting books on track only to fall off again. There is really no way to keep the momentum of books unless they arrive on time and somebody needs to play the badguy when writers and artist aren’t holding up their end of the deals.

  8. While it usually happened during Levitz’s time in the office, DC’s always been gun shy about having any real promotion put light on them outside of the industry.

    The famous “slow news day” line about Superman’s death in the 90′s just being one example. The Batwoman original announcement being another.

    Wonder if this is just a hold over from those days or they still don’t want any real kind of publicity?

  9. So much for connecting with the non-comics reading public. I hated this stunt from the get-go, but if you’re going to do a publicity stunt, DO THE $%#&-ing PUBLICITY STUNT!

  10. His Wonder Woman title is way better than the Superman one. Those sulking over pants and trying to make it some feminist issue…oh puleaze…go back WW’s history.More fool you for not reading it. I hope he does something a little more than Superman meeting people and catching up with the wife…zzzzz. Come on JMS I know you can do better on Supes and I am willing to wait to get a good issue with him encountering Batman.

  11. Stu Harris says:

    Didn’t DC a while back say there’s be no late issues on any books – but then that was before Dan Didio was kicked up to the “Big Chair”!

  12. CitizenCliff says:

    Superman is so fucking boring. And now he’s walking across America? Isn’t there any bad guys he can super-punch or use his super-breath on?

    Gimme the bat guy any day.

  13. In Joe’s defense, he recently posted on his facebook fan page that he had been down with the bronchitis/lung infection that he’s been fighting off and on over the last two years and things did fall behind schedule. He says he thinks they have finally licked it and he is now caught up and working to get ahead on all of his writing chores.

  14. I see that both Joe and Kendall Swafford have joined in on the discussion over on Robot 6:

    http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/09/superman-703-turns-out-to-be-kryptonite-for-cincinnati-retailer/

  15. Al™ says:

    This is heresy, of course, but if a writer is off sick for a month, and a book has been promised, could the book possibly be given to someone else to write, or ghost write, even?

  16. When any creator decides to be unprofessional, ire for late books needs to be directed solely at the publishers. Readers will never be rid of the writer or artist that can’t/won’t produce content every 30 days or so.

    JMS won’t care that fandom or retailers blame him for another late book…he gets paid the same no matter what and he knows the next naive editor will hire him for a project that will likely be plagued by the same unprofessional attitude. The guy’s track record was well documented in the industry. Didio and crew should have known better. DC had Neal Adams work ahead of the launch of his current Batman project because of his history…why don’t they apply the same rules to other notorious late creators?

    If the editorial teams of any publisher simply didn’t put with the divas of the comic industry or pay large sums of money up front for the “big creator name”, late content would never be a problem. The comic publishing industry should pay work-for-hire talent like the TV animation industry does… you get paid when all the work is turned in. That system would be the best motivator for speed and reliability there could possibly be.

  17. J. K. Simon says:

    Would you rather have a late Superman book from JMS, or one that was always on time but written by, say, Chuck Austen?

    I do sympathize with the retailer in this case, he had a cool idea for a Superman promotion which was scuttled due to the book’s lateness — but, if I have to choose (and in think that’s the reality of the current marketplace), I’d prefer the comics I read to be done *well* rather than quickly.

    For example: Marvel took a lot of stick for the delays to the main Civil War book, but they stuck to their guns and gave Steve McNiven time to complete the final issues. The result was a story which was well drawn and cohesive from front to back.

    OTOH, when J.G. Jones fell behind on Final Crisis, DC immediately tossed him under the bus and brought in a team of artists to take his place. No disrespect to any of the individual artists (all talented folks who, I’m sure, did the best they could under the circumstances), but the result there was that a somewhat incoherent and half-baked narrative became even more so.

  18. “Would you rather have a late Superman book from JMS, or one that was always on time but written by, say, Chuck Austen?”

    I know you’re kidding, but Chuck Austen actually wrote a decent Superman book.

  19. To J.K. Simon:

    The Final Crisis incident had a LOT more going on behind the scenes then anyone ever talks about as to why it happened the way it did.

  20. fernald says:

    “I wish though he didn’t change Wonder Woman into a boring Politically Correct costume so that’s why I refuse to buy that book.”

    Wow, talk about judging a book by it’s cover…

  21. “Would you rather have a late Superman book from JMS, or one that was always on time but written by, say, Chuck Austen?”

    Why does it have to be a choice? Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did 100 kick ass issues of the Fantastic Four all of which came out on time, Will Eisner did the Spirit section every week for years, only occasionally resorting to a reprint and even then adding new material. Were all of them classics, no, but more than half of them were and pretty much all of them are as readable now as they were then.

    You can have quality and have it come out on time. TV shows, even the truly great ones, aired on time. You never heard about the next episode of Seinfeld or the Soprano’s being delayed for 6 months because the writer or director “got behind”. Hell Frasier managed to give us new episodes when the lead actor was in jail for months, (they were just Frasier episodes without Frasier in them). Comics should use this as a model, once upon a time they did.

    A professional should hand in the best work they can, but they should also hand it in on time, in most professions, the on time part is what truly makes them a professional.

  22. “In Joe’s defense, he recently posted on his facebook fan page that he had been down with the bronchitis/lung infection that he’s been fighting off and on over the last two years and things did fall behind schedule. He says he thinks they have finally licked it and he is now caught up and working to get ahead on all of his writing chores.”

    As someone who once lost the better part of the year due to a lung infection I sympathize. Having said that, there is only so many times you can play “I have a good excuse” card. He was 6 months late on Spider-Man way back when, the Twelve still unfinished after what, 2 years, Thor also late. If he’s been fighting an infection for two years that means he knew about it when he took the Superman job, and was aware that it could cause scheduling problems. So either he didn’t inform DC, (arguably unprofessional) or he did inform DC and DC didn’t care. Either way there is blame to go around.

  23. John Warren says:

    Well, The Sopranos was late all the time, so that’s a bad example. But all of this could be solved via creative/professional editing. Make every creative team have three issues in the can before you even announce they are starting. If you’re dealing with unreliable creators, make them have even more. When dealing with Kevin Smith, make him have the whole series done, plus remove any scenes where Batman pisses himself.

  24. J. K. Simon says:

    -”I know you’re kidding, but Chuck Austen actually wrote a decent Superman book.”

    Wasn’t his big plan to torpedo Lois in order to put Superman back together with Lana? Pass.

    -”Why does it have to be a choice? Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did 100 kick ass issues of the Fantastic Four all of which came out on time, Will Eisner did the Spirit section every week for years, only occasionally resorting to a reprint and even then adding new material.”

    Stan & Jack, and Will Eisner are considered legends for a reason — I’m not sure it’s reasonable to hold creators (even talented ones) to *that* high a standard. I have great respect for highly prolific writers (like Bendis) and artists (like Mark Bagley), but there are lots of great creators that can’t keep up that kind of pace (like, say, George Perez) — and I want them to keep making comics.

    -”TV shows, even the truly great ones, aired on time.”

    TV shows that had problems continued to air out of necessity — but not without major compromises that usually had a negative impact on quality. I wasn’t a Frasier viewer, but I think I would have preferred to waited a couple of months if it meant that Kelsey Grammer could have been in all the season’s shows. A planned, story-driven absence is one thing, but I have a hard time believing that losing the lead due to outside circumstances actually made for a *better* show.

    It’s true that comic book and TV writers alike have to straddle the line between artist and professional, but when push comes to shove I’d rather they prioritize the former ahead of the latter.

  25. Well, The Sopranos was late all the time, so that’s a bad example.”

    I don’t remember specific episodes being late, seasons maybe, but seasons on the pay cable networks don’t follow a set structure like the networks so it’s hard to tell. I don’t think anyone turned in on Sunday night expecting a new episode that was advertised the previous week and got a rerun instead.

    There have been network shows that were famously late, Moonlighting for example, and I would argue that the constant reruns that show had in it’s 2nd/3rd season had as much to do with it’s demise as the bad creative choices the producers made. America just lost interest and went elsewhere. By the time the show got it’s production problems under control and was on the air regularly people no longer cared.

    Never underestimate the fact that if you aren’t there for the audience, the audience can always find something else to entertain them and leave you behind.

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