Not exactly the Hat Trick: Hibbs on late comics

Brian Hibbs

Victim of no time today — the truck actually showed up at 11:45 today (about 2 hours earlier than usual), and I hadn’t even finished my morning paperwork routine by then.

There’s also the little problem of not being very excited about much of anything last week — ANNIHILATION #1 was OK, 52 WEEK 14 was OK SHE HULK #10 was OK … all in all even the high spots were pretty much just “OK” (Damn you five week shipping months, damn you!!). Even the stuff that kinda sucked didn’t, I didn’t think, suck that bad — MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1 was just kind of generically EH, rather than Graeme’s completely CRAP attack on it.

Really the only book that I had anything valuable to say about was GREEN ARROW #65 that kinda pissed me off by not even trying to explain the pre-OYL cliffhanger that it “resolved” this issue.

But, then, I noticed the little tidbit of news about CIVIL WAR’S new shipping schedule (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=80636) (In a nutshell: CW #4 is pushed back 5 more weeks, #5 will run 2 months after that, and so on…. plus ASM, FF are delayed, as is the launch of PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL… and almost certainly THOR and MIGHTY AVENGERS, too), and I need to vent. I was going to do it on the CBIA, but then I thought, well, let’s just make it public and link it there, and everyone can play along.

Look, man, this is fucked up.

CIVIL WAR has been one of the few legitimate home run hits that Marvel has had — it is both connecting with the core Marvel reader, but it is directly and specifically bringing “back” “Lapsed” readers, and new faces to their core properties.

To have the schedule slip this badly is, flatly, unconscionable.

History shows us that when books like this start to slip, they end up with a cascade effect. I laughed when I saw the projected dates for #6 & 7 as being back on a monthly schedule after #5′s big-ass delay — that seems… unlikely? improbable? pure fiction?

The momentum of the story (which has been, let me add, come in fits and starts, with the “waiting for a bus” plan of shipping [wait 20 minutes, then 3 show up at once]) is going to be gutted, and that means one thing: lost sales. How much, how many? Dunno, but there WILL be some… and who is going to have to bear the cost? Yessir, the retailer.

This is magnifying a thousand fold by it being a Big Ass Crossover That Affects Every Book — you know, it really sucks when ALL-STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN ships months late, but, at least, that doesn’t affect anything other than ALL-STAR. CIVIL WAR, on the other hand, affects each and every Marvel title, and is, at the very least delaying FF and ASM by a month. Books that I depend upon for their steady cashflow. It is, as noted above, delaying other books that were set to launch out of CW — that’s more cashflow I’m being denied.

So, it is fucked up.

There have been (and continue to be) a number of very high profile, spectacularly late comics lately, and it needs to S-T-O-P. Stop fucking soliciting things that aren’t far enough along the creation process to have a CHANCE of shipping. This isn’t Marvel-exclusive, by any means — how is it even POSSIBLE that ALL-STAR BATMAN & ROBIN #5 was originally solicited for April ’06, then rescheduled for July ’06, and now they’re telling us NO-FUCKING-VEMBER for it. How can that be?

I mean, I wasn’t the only person who laughed (defensively, in pain and fear) when they announced Adam Hughes on ALL-STAR WONDER WOMAN, right? I mean, why not retitle the whole ALL-STAR line as the ALL-LATE line?

This shit needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. We don’t need more late comics. We don’t need any more ULTIMATE HULK VS WOLVERINE #3 or DAREDEVIL FATHER #6. We don’t need the core books of the universe lines, like WONDER WOMAN or JUSTICE LEAGUE moving to 6 week schedules because the creators can’t hack monthly. No, damn it, 9 issues a year is NOT acceptable on what has to be a monthly book, I don’t care what pedigree the talent has.

There is art, and there is commerce, but as a retailer, and for the sake of the industry, there has to be a regular churn of ongoing titles to provide the cash flow to keep everyone going. That’s just a bottom line reality.

But as pathetic as ALL-STAR anything and DAREDEVIL: FATHER have become, the problems are multiplied a thousand-fold for a core-universe crossover book like CIVIL WAR.

June’s sales chart says that $21.24 million dollars of comics were in the Top 300, of that, CIVIL WAR #2 was nearly $760,000 of that — what’s that? about 3.5% of the month’s total? CIVIL WAR is now “on hold” for a month (then another month, after that), and that’s more than 3% of the month’s dollars just gone *snap*, like that.

It kills confidence in Marvel as a brand among consumers, as the domino affect cascades across the whole line. YOU CAN NOT DO THIS WITH CROSSOVERS.

Even if you have to replace George Perez with Ron Lim.

There are theories of whose “fault” this is — maybe it is the artist, maybe it is the writer, and I say no, none of that matters: it is the publisher.

ASSHAT OF THE WEEK: goes to Marvel Comics.

What do you think?

-B

One Response to “ Not exactly the Hat Trick: Hibbs on late comics ”

  1. [...] Brian Hibbs adds his thoughts on late books. We don’t need more late comics. We don’t need any more [...]

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