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Peeing in the Shower: Quality vs. Quantity

Written by Keb Ellis on Tuesday, January 02 2007 and posted in Features
(Just a quick point: This column is about a month late) I’m sitting here and reading the latest issue of Ultimates 2.  It took something like 6 months to come out, I think.  I don’t know because I stopped keeping track.  The series still isn’t done and I’m waiting because I just want to finish the [...]

 the storyline and be done with the title.  Does anyone else feel what I’m saying?

I don’t know about you, but I find it really hard to get through a storyline when there are so many delays on an issue.  Why?  Well, because I constantly need entertainment.  At the pace that some comics come out, I lose interest so fast that by the time I really think about it, I just don’t like comics.  Honestly, it’s a very disrespectful thing to keep people waiting, so what’s the difference with comics?  Would you get upset if a movie you really liked was delayed?  I would.  In fact, I was looking forward to V for Vendetta’s movie release on Guy Fawkes Day because not only would that have given the movie so much more meaning, but it would have just been ridiculously cool.  But alas, no, I had to wait (it doesn’t matter; I waited for the DVD anyway). 

My point: Lateness sucks!

On the Outhouse Awards Ballot did anyone notice the “When the F*&# Does It Come Out” award?  Doesn’t that just make a statement about comic readers and how much patience they show?  Well, I find it’s true because lateness can hurt a book.  I recently dropped Fell because it takes too long to come out.  The worst part about that decision is that it’s not the only book on my list that experiences massive delays.  All Star Superman and Local are two more that are on the fence simply because of the time they take to come out.  For me it hurts most because I don’t get new comics that often, and I find my interest in comics waning.

I’m trying to find release dates on the Ultimates, but I can’t.  However, I think it’s pretty well known how detailed Bryan Hitch is as an artist and how long it takes for a book to ship.  But should a book like the Ultimates be given a pass on lateness due to the high quality of work?

I’m a recent League of Extraordinary Gentlemen convert, but that doesn’t mean I’m not ticked about the delays on the “Black Dossier” and reading in paperback format means we all wait longer!  But in a recent interview at Fanboy Radio, Alan Moore stated that Kevin O’Neill is working hard on completing the book and it should be out soon.  Also, Moore stated that the delay on the book really shouldn’t matter because it should be created as if it will be a timeless masterpiece much like other works by Moore, therefore delays don’t matter in the end. (*note: Wildstorm’s site is saying Oct. 2007…)

I agree with this statement, but I also disagree.  There is should be a dedication to punctuality in the comics industry.  It’s almost as if a book should come out when the publisher feels it should.  Not only does this hurt sales, but it really hurts the attitudes of readers who follow the series.  Human beings have such short attention spans that delays will definitely cause disinterest.

If I could schedule my school how I wanted I’d probably never finish my undergrad, and that’s a true statement.  Having a routine has proven to help me get by and work towards my undergrad.  The same can be said for comics.  Fans need to be stimulated as often as possible in order to keep giving their money to the companies.

How does this factor in for an artist?  Well, it makes their job harder than any other in the industry.  A writer can write a page a day, but it’s not necessarily true for an artist.  The comics industry has raised its artistic standards since the 1980s on many levels.  An artist who can keep a monthly schedule is definitely an asset for a publisher, but an artist who can sell books on their detail alone is also an asset.  Finding an artist with both these qualities is a rare deal these days, so a publisher is usually faced with a dilemma here.

Both companies have made smart moves in the past two years with their major event series and choosing who gets the artistic duties.  Marvel putting David Finch on the Avengers: Disassembled/New Avengers event really hurt with his detailed style causing so many delays that they put Oliver Coipel, a less detailed but on-time artist on House of M.  Smart move!

Likewise, DC has 52 coming weekly, which means they had to get smart on art!  Having the team they have has been beneficial to the quality/quantity mix.  They fanned a bit with Phil Jiminez on Infinite Crisis, which proves that not all artists can be perfect.

I’d just take a minute to note the less hyped books that come out on time.  Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen’s Nextwave has been on a perfect schedule, as have many of the lesser-read Marvel and DC books.  People need to start reading these to keep them interested while they wait for the Ultimates and All-Star Superman.

And in the end, does keeping a schedule really count when we look at the timeless masterpieces of the past?  There were apparently delays on the last volume of the Invisibles, and I had no clue about this when I read it because the quality of the work seemed up to par with my expectations.  I have no clue if Watchmen was on time, and nor do I care because it’s twenty-odd years later and it shouldn’t matter.  The delays can definitely be worth it, and it makes me think that us comic fans just need something to bitch about every once in a while.

Say something here

Posted originally: 2007-01-02 16:48:08

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