26 Feb 2009

Thought Balloon: Where Are They Now? AWOL Comics.

Matt C: If there’s one thing guaranteed to get the back up of your everyday comics reader it’s late books. Ongoing titles, by and large, are supposed to arrive on a monthly basis, the serial-storytelling format relying on regularity to weave the constantly unfolding tales. A couple of months wait is annoying, but when books start getting delayed for several months it’s kind of irritating to say the least. Huge gaps between “chapters” of a story don’t help the narrative flow, and I’m sure I’m not alone in picking up a much-delayed book, trying to remember what happened last time while simultaneously trying to absorb the new information presented, which usually results in you not enjoying the end product as much as you should/would.


But at what point does a late book cease being late/delayed and become, essentially, lost. It’s not as a rare an occurrence as it should be in the industry; books suddenly disappearing from view with no news when the next issue is due out, if at all, seems to happen a little too frequently. Retailers aren’t exactly furnished with information (which is pretty unacceptable when you compare comics to other entertainment products) and getting a solid answer out of anyone is often close to impossible. Case in point: Grant Morrison’s relaunch of Wildcats and Authority back in 2006 which resulted in one issue of the former and two of the latter. Although it was generally assumed neither would ever continue, Morrison has said recently that Wildcats would be back when Jim Lee is ready, but after reading reviews for the first issue of Authority, he decided “Fuck it!” Oh, really? So I bought all three issues and we get vague (and unlikely) assurances that one will continue, but you knocked the other on the head because of negative reviews? Do you wanna give me my money back then? You or DC/Wildstorm? It's certainly not up to the retailer to cough up a refund based on your sensitivity to other peoples opinions!


Would we allow this kind of situation to occur elsewhere in our lives? So you’re getting a house built, the builders come back to you and say it’s done, but there’s no roof, and while they should be able to get around to putting that on at some point they can’t promise when. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a crap analogy, but you get the idea: you pay your money, you expect a service to be provided; you don’t settle for a half-finished job. (I don’t know anything about the legalities or contracts involved in the comics world so I’m not going to get into any of that – feel free to fill me in if anyone’s in the know).

Anyway…. the imminent reappearance of Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk (which I’m no longer bothered about…. too much time has elapsed for me to care any more) got me thinking about the various titles I was picking up that are now MIA. I’ve attempted to do some quick research into their whereabouts, see if I can uncover anything on the way….

GEMINI (Image)


This one I’ll give a pass to as Jay Faerber has been honest that it was taking a while longer than expected to get each issue of the mini out but has assured fans that the final two parts will see the light of day in 2009. If only other creators/co
mpanies took this approach, keeping the people who put down their hard-earned cash in the loop.

GUTSVILLE (Image)

Really strong first issue, two (delayed) issues that were good but didn’t quite match the impact of the debut, and then….. nothing. Found an interview with Frazer Irving on a blog saying it’s “a very emotionally draining comic, so it's being delayed” and then the book’s Facebook page has both creators saying #4 is being worked on (although this is bac
k in August last year). Ok, fine, but why no official announcement stating this is the case? Or at least something passed to retailers explaining the delay? And why must I go scouring the net for little drops of information? Still have no firm date for release of the next issue.

INFINITE HORIZON (Image)
Another Image series (is there a trend here?) that managed three issues before disappearing into thin air. There’s bugger all out there on the web regarding the delay or even if the rest of the series will ever see the light of day. The best I could find is another blog asking the same questions.

THE KILLER (Archaia Studios Press)

Only two issues left of this excellent series but Archaia Studios Press ran into trouble last year and all their books have disappeared off the release schedules (bar the acclaimed Mouse Guard which reappeared in January). There was talk of the difficulties ASP was experiencing around October '08, along with news of a possible buyout, but since then I can’t locate any updates. As well as The Killer, I’m also waiting for the publisher to put out the next issues of Killing Pickman and Secret History – I guess if Mouse G
uard is making its way to the shelves then I should be hopeful the rest will follow in the not too distant future. Again, it would be nice if we got some sort of official comment.

NEWUNIVERSAL: SHOCKFRONT (Mavrel)

After plenty of hype, the initial Newuniversal series from Warren Ellis lasted six issues before vanishing seemingly without a trace. Silence for a time, then we get the announcement that a miniseries called Newuniversal: Shockfront would continue the story. Two issues of that (last in August 08), and then nothing. A couple of one-shots appeared to fill the gap, but a release date for the third issue keeps being pushed back. Ellis often seems to lose interest in some of the books he writes when he comes up with a newer, “better” idea to focus on. Will we ever see another issue of Desolation Jones? Or Fell? Admittedly I’d kind of lost interest in the whole Newuniversal concept but was prepared to give Ellis the benefit of the doubt…… my mistake it seems!


PRETTY BABY MACHINE (Shadowline/Image)

Loved the first issue of this book from Image’s Shadowline imprint. Is that it though? It’s been eight months and it was only listed as a three-issue mini - I can’t find anything hinting at reasons for the delays with a quick Google search. It was a great book, I’ll support it and hopefully be able to give it further glowing reviews….. if we ever see it again! Anyone know where this has gone?!

RED MASS FROM MARS (Image)

Image again?! Sort it out guys! I recall Hickman saying the were experiencing delays be
fore it initially debuted – I seem to remember they bumped the release of the first issue for several months (was it Feb 08 to July 08?) to ensure there wouldn’t be any lateness once it hit the shelves. Ok, so you managed two issues in fairly quick succession and then…… where the hell are the other two? I hope this hasn’t been forgotten about due to Hickman’s focus on his Marvel work.

THE TWELVE (Marvel)
A cracking series from J. Michael Straczynski that seemed to be making it out on a monthly basis before delays started to creep in. It hasn’t been that long since the last (#8 in November 08) but considering the frequency up to that point, it’s absence was slightly worrying. Thor has been slow to appear too, and I know Stracynski has a lot of movie work in the pipeline, but with four issues to go it seemed to be a strange time for it to be put on hold. A bit of web-surfing came up with the reason, and fans of the book may want to read this blog post (which includes a statement for Joe Quesada). Doesn’t sound too promising at all. Are comics something to do until a better paying gig comes along, be it within the same industry or outside? And fuck the fans, who cares what they think anyway?! I guess we’re the mugs because at the end of the day we put up with the delays and continue to buy the books, but does that justify this kind of treatment of an audience by creators and publishers?

So that rounds up this list of books, and there are a probably a few more I’m missing (feel free to enlighten/remind me in the comments section). Image comes off the worst here, and I imagine the only reason DC don’t feature is that I’m gradually spending less and less on their output. You would hope that people who buy the books would get treated with a little more respect, but sometimes you get the feeling their concerns are irrelevant when weighed up against potential movie options and the like. All we’re asking for is a little honesty now and then – it’s not hard to communicate directly to your audience via the internet these days, so take a leaf out of Jay Faerber’s book and don’t try and coat everything in bullshit and spin. We can see through it and we’re not stupid. If we like something we’re prepared to pay for it and support it; treat us like we don’t matter, and that support is likely to evaporate.

12 comments:

James said...

I think it's fair to say that the late books are the bane of our comics existence! I'm sure Matt will put me right, but hasn't 'Late Books' been voted the 'Worst Thing About Comics' two years running at the Paradox Awards? (Or the Andys as we like to call 'em!)
Just to add on the 'Pretty Baby Machine' complaint, I've read that it's been optioned by a Hollywood studio, and so they've put it on hold! Now, I don't know A) if this is true, or B) The ins and the outs of entertainment law, but if it is - lordy, that is lame - and just confirms what Matt says about the level of respect shown to us lowly fans.

Tom P said...

Good points, i wonder what the hell happened to Burlyman Comics? I feel they were a bit shite but like you said after a few months gap you start to lack interest. As for Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk i just started reading that and i think its dead good.

SK said...

As long as Straczynski keeps putting out good work I'm happy to wait a little longer for Thor or Twelve. Although I'm still waiting for Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk but I guess that's another story.

Justin said...

Hey Matt, awesome idea for an article! I started making a mental list before I saw yours and also came up with The Killer and Red Mass for Mars. In addition, I'm wondering where the next issue of FELL is and DESOLATION JONES - both from Warren Ellis!

Justin said...

Oh, and what about Shaolin Cowboy from Burlyman Entertainment? Was really enjoying this, not sure if it actually concluded or just abruptly stopped.

Matt C said...

Or - not that overly fussed by their return, but still - War Heroes and Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas. And Kick-Ass seems to have been forgotten about too.

There's no doubt plenty more out there. A sorry state of affairs really.

Justin said...

What about those last couple issues of DC's Sonic Disruptors? ;-)

Tom P said...

Tut Tut Miller i will forgive you if Ultimate Avengers is as good as Ultimates was, I want PLANETARY #27. Thats what i said to myself when i read this post. Then Ellis posted this on his Twitter yesterday !For anyone else intending to use Twitter solely to ask me where PLANETARY #27 is:" http://www.warrenellis.com/?p=7062
2 YEARS AGO! I want it now...

Matt C said...

"As fas as I know, John’s still working on the art." Er, why don't you just ask him, then you'll know for sure.

Matt C said...

"What about those last couple issues of DC's Sonic Disruptors? ;-)"

I've not heard of that one, but from the title it sounds like I didn't miss much! :)

Justin said...

RE: Planetary, I so desperately want this to wrap up as well. I think Dan DiDio said at the WonderCon last week that Planetary #27 is "close" or some such and we should actually see it some time in 2009, which (if it happens) would mean we'll have 27 issues in 10 years (issue #1 is cover dated April 1999). Ridiculous, no? Then we have to wait for the trade, hardcover, and second Absolute Edition... how long is all that gonna' take?!

Sonic Disruptors... horrible DC mini-series from 1987 or so which was supposed to run 12 issues, but got cancelled around issue 7 or so. Yikes!

Tom P said...

I first read it in trades and it blew me away, would not take much for me to upgrade to an Absolute. Ten Years, thats truly terrible. Anyway Watchmen tonight! Can't Wait!