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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:08pm | IP Logged | 1  

Allow me to beat a dead horse for a moment or two.

As noted elsewhere, many times, somehow being late has become associated in the minds of some (presumably) feeble-witted fans with being good. The books are late because the creative teams involved are "growing roses", to use Todd McFarlane's phrase, while books that are not late are, again in the Toddler's words "shit out on a monthly basis."

So, somehow, it is deemed impossible to produce quality work -- generations of previous artists and writers notwithstanding -- and come out on time. All those issues of FANTASTIC FOUR, THOR, AVENGERS, etc Jack Kirby produced are shit according to McFarlane, because they all came out when they were supposed to.

But, what if we just pretend for a moment that people like Kirby, Steve Ditko, Curt Swan, Joe Kubert, Carmine Infantino, and, what the heck, yours truly, were not producing "shit". How could it be that their quality work came out on time, month after month?

Here's the math: if you have a July 1st deadline, don't start on June 1st. Start on April 1st. Start on March 1st. Start on July 1st of the previous year, if that's how much time you need to grow your roses.

It's not witchcraft! It's called being professional.

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Donald Miller
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:13pm | IP Logged | 2  

That Mr. Byrne is exactly why I don't understand the justifications put forth by the publishers on this issue...They also claim that the late product is excused by the demand. 

I don't understand why it would be so terribly hard to have those artists, that are unable to produce monthly...either create a big enough backlog of work to create a cushion, or create an entire story arc, before publication, everyone is happy.

Don
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Ed Aycock
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:16pm | IP Logged | 3  

This makes me remember Alpha Flight issue 26 (spring) which showed a cover for the "Hulk" from JB's run that would not be on the stands for several months (late Fall).  
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Stephen Churay
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:19pm | IP Logged | 4  

22 pages in a comic book. 22 work days in a month. Easy math. Can't do a page a day, sorry you can't do this job. It's that simple. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:20pm | IP Logged | 5  

As the recently posted cover testifies, I have started work on my next ANGEL
book, which won't be on sale until October. Even working around other
things, I expect to have it finished (with most of the pages already sent to
IDW as they are completed) by early August at the latest.
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Jason Mark Hickok
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:25pm | IP Logged | 6  

Well said JB.  I think it is funny re-reading Brevoort's comments from another thread.  I DON'T buy Thor because of its lateness.  I believe that you can generate more interest in producing 12 issues which will lead to higher sales than having 7-8 issues a year.  So every issue that is released supposed to be an event?  That readers are so excited over that they can wait 3+ months between issues? 

 

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Paul W. Sondersted, Jr.
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:27pm | IP Logged | 7  

One of the usual "counterpoints" (that may not be the right terminology) to this argument is one that is truly baffling to me...

Many of the fans that subscribe to the "growing roses" theory ignore this...

They usually say something along the lines of "comic books shouldn't be monthly." Ignoring the fact that the artist (or whoever is responsible for the lateness) committed to the project as a monthly. They promised to deliver, so to speak, on time & then couldn't (or in some cases, wouldn't) do it. They didn't keep their word as a professional.

Even though many of these people are talented, they shouldn't be held up as something positive. The opposite in fact. They are setting a bad example. I don't know about the rest of you, but I was told, growing up, that bad was...well...not good.
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Simon Bowland
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:28pm | IP Logged | 8  

I confess, I do struggle to understand why an artist can't produce one page per day. If they work a solid ten hour day, it surely should be possible. If they're running late, the simple answer is to work a fourteen hour day. If they're running massively late, put in a weekend shift. It's not as if they're earning minimum wage or anything.

That said, artists who cannot produce 22 pages per month, can still be utilised in the comic industry. If, as an editor, you know your artist is slower than the required schedule, you should factor that in to the equation and find a second artist to alternate story arcs. Plan in advance and it's not a problem - or at least it shouldn't be.

That's not to say that real life can't get in the way of even the speediest of artist. Fantastic Four, for example, has been shipping late of late, because of illness and bereavement from both the writer and the penciller. That's something an editor can't really plan for, and I'd hope nobody would complain about this sort of situation.
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Robert White
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:41pm | IP Logged | 9  

This might help some modern creators...
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Paulo Pereira
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:47pm | IP Logged | 10  

Heh.




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Jim Campbell
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:48pm | IP Logged | 11  


 QUOTE:
That said, artists who cannot produce 22 pages per month, can
still be utilised in the comic industry. If, as an editor, you know your
artist is slower than the required schedule, you should factor that in to
the equation and find a second artist to alternate story arcs. Plan in
advance and it's not a problem - or at least it shouldn't be.


I couldn't agree more. Artists know -- realistically -- whether they can do
a page a day. If not, no biggie. Can you do nine issues a year? Great. We'll
get the writer to script three standalones a year and get some other
cracking artists who also can't commit to a monthly schedule or a
regular book to draw these. Everyone wins.

Lest we forget, Uncanny X-Man #205 -- Deathstrike, Wolverine, Barry
Windsor-Freakin-Smith -- was a fill-in, and that's one of my favourite
X-Men issues of all time!

This doesn't seem like rocket surgery to me.

Cheers

Jim
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Keith Thomas
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 3:57pm | IP Logged | 12  

I think we live in the age of lowered expectations, so
many lazy people out there just expect everyone else to
be as lazy as them.

Edited by Keith Thomas on 04 June 2009 at 4:27pm
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Frank S Balkin
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:01pm | IP Logged | 13  

John - could not agree with you more.

A question you might know the answer to - another part of the issue is that publishers announce projects very early.  It's fine to say "Artist XYZ is working on a Batman-Wolverine crossover."  It's another to say "it's a three issue monthly series that will start in September 2009," and then the first issue comes out in September, the second in January, and the third in May.

Why do you think publishers and editors announce books without doing some "padding"?  Why are they not comfortable getting several issues "in the can" before announcing a publication date?

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Paulo Pereira
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:01pm | IP Logged | 14  

It also seems fans today are embarrassed by fill-ins as they are by cover balloons and sound effects lettering.
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Wallace Sellars
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:21pm | IP Logged | 15  

That's not to say that real life can't get in the way of even the speediest of
artist. Fantastic Four, for example, has been shipping late of late, because of
illness and bereavement from both the writer and the penciller. That's
something an editor can't really plan for, and I'd hope nobody would
complain about this sort of situation.
---
The editor can (and should) plan for that sort of situation!
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Knut Robert Knutsen
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:25pm | IP Logged | 16  

"Fantastic Four, for example, has been shipping late of late, because of illness and bereavement from both the writer and the penciller. That's something an editor can't really plan for, and I'd hope nobody would complain about this sort of situation."

I hope I don't come off as an insensitive asshole for this, but an editor can (and should) plan for this, and consumers have every right to complain if this sort of situation leads to a comic being late. Why it happens doesn't even really enter into it.

First of all, there should be enough lead time to cover regular illness (which will be a few days to maybe 2 weeks, unless it's an injury that makes it impossible to work).  Anything beyond a few weeks, an editor should replace that person until he or she is ready to resume work.

And  bereavement can be very hard to deal with, but unless you have such a severe depressive reaction that you qualify for a medical leave, you should be back to work in a week or two at the most. Some people are back to work the next day and only take as much time off as are needed for the funeral and arranging the funeral.

In the real world, if illness or a bereavement takes you away from the job, your employer finds someone who can take over for you. And in most cases, a week or so is all that anybody needs. Not to recover fully, but to recover enough to get back to work.

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Michael Huber
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:38pm | IP Logged | 17  

Quote:
That said, artists who cannot produce 22 pages per month, can
still be utilised in the comic industry. If, as an editor, you know your
artist is slower than the required schedule, you should factor that in to
the equation and find a second artist to alternate story arcs. Plan in
advance and it's not a problem - or at least it shouldn't be.
 Well, gee, here's another option, 12 or so pages, and a back up feature spotted in here and there, again by an up and comer, and old favorite, or maybe someone who always wanted to do something a little different and either they OR the company didn't think it would carry a book on it's own. If you can't do 12-14 pages in 22 working days...
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Mike Farley
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:52pm | IP Logged | 18  

They should just get Mark Bagley to draw everything. After TRINITY I'm convinced he could handle it.
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Simon Bowland
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 19  

Knut, I'd never use the term "arsehole" but what you've said is incredibly insensitive. In my opinion, at least. The specifics of what befell Millar and Hitch are fairly public knowledge - basically, one was in hospital for a period of time, and the other lost a parent as a result of a long illness. You simply cannot put a timescale on dealing with matters like this - some people bounce back quickly, others don't. I'm sure neither of them wanted to be away from their work, since as freelancers no work = no income, but in those situations getting a comic book out on time is way down the priority list, and quite rightly so. I'd defend someone until my death breath for putting their family before their work.

Michael, I think DC are doing just that with their upcoming Metal Men/Doom Patrol book. If I remember the solicitation correctly, the book will feature 2x11pp strips, which allows us to see some Kevin Maguire goodness on a (hopefully) regular basis.

Wallace, care to enlighten us as to how an editor can predict the future and plan accordingly? If you're talking about having a fill-in issue or two "in the drawer", that would potentially make the book returnable by Diamond since it would not be the product which was originally solicited.
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Peyton Holden
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 20  

As long as the fanboys put up with it, it will never stop.

This is why I buy 99% of my comics at flea markets, garage sales and estate sales.  The only new comics I buy are from "Guess Who..."

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Erik Larsen
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 4:53pm | IP Logged | 21  

Sigh.

You put an awful lot of stock into a tossed off comment made by a guy
trying to excuse a few of his pals who were struggling to launch a new
universe with no game plan. Todd himself was actually the monthly guy
of the group. His book came out like clockwork. Was Todd calling his own
work crap? No--nor was he calling out Jack Kirby (which is just about as
ridiculous a spin as one could make). If anything he was comparing
Image's efforts with what Marvel was producing at that point. Beyond
that, it was just a smart ass comment. You've gone out of your way to
spin it as a deliberate slam at every professional who ever lived--but
that's all it is--spin.

Reality check: not every word out of everybody's mouth stands up to
scrutiny. Sometimes people say stuff without thinking through all of the
possible ramifications and interpretations and misinterpretations. The
idea that Todd's wisecrack was the philosophy of a generation is
ludicrous.
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Martin Redmond
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 5:00pm | IP Logged | 22  

Are you kidding? Which early Image comic came out on time?
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Peyton Holden
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 5:15pm | IP Logged | 23  

Erik,

The 90's were 99% crap. This is not all McFarlane's fault, but he did contribute because his writing skills took a back seat to his ego.  You were the only one who put out quality product in those early years (and still do).

The blame lies with The Toddster, Bill Jemas, The Death of Superman, Bane, the speculators, Gareb Shamus, ad infinitum.

Image is a good publisher today.  15 years ago, it was not.



Edited by W. Peyton Holden on 04 June 2009 at 5:16pm
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Simon Bowland
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 5:20pm | IP Logged | 24  

Erik, sorry, that's complete nonsense. Todd's book "came out like clockwork"? Is that why two issues shipped completely out of sequence in its early days? You guys at Image made yourselves look a bit stupid, blowing your own collective trumpets, and many of you chose to slate the very publisher who'd given you all your break in the industry. The fact is, at the time none of you could organise a piss-up in a brewery, and despite evidence to the contrary you all seemed to be under the delusion that being a talented artist instantly made you talented writers. It didn't.

It's funny how many of the founding Image members ended up going back to Marvel and DC when the Image sales fell through the floor.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 04 June 2009 at 5:36pm | IP Logged | 25  

A question you might know the answer to - another part of the issue is that publishers announce projects very early. It's fine to say "Artist XYZ is working on a Batman-Wolverine crossover." It's another to say "it's a three issue monthly series that will start in September 2009," and then the first issue comes out in September, the second in January, and the third in May.

Why do you think publishers and editors announce books without doing some "padding"? Why are they not comfortable getting several issues "in the can" before announcing a publication date?

There is a sad lack of professionalism at all levels. Publishers and editors who make unrealistic projections as to when a book will ship are guilty of a combination of greed and wishful thinking. Frankly, I wish the greed would dominate. Then they might work harder at getting the books out on time!

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