There's no better feeling than walking into the comic book store on a Wednesday afternoon, finding your favorite books, buying them, and reading them in your favorite chair. Like many readers, I have a few books I like more than any of the other books I read. Those are the books I get excited for most of all. The fans of these books are usually extremely supportive of the writers, artists, and the companies that publish the comics, but what happens when the comics don't come out when they are scheduled to come out?
There's nothing worse than walking into the comic book store and realizing your favorite book isn't coming out this week. On occasion, for many reasons, a comic book can be delayed. It affects the reader in many different ways. Of course, you'll be bummed out if you don't get your book on time, but some people get so mad that they'll stop reading a book altogether. It's a bit harsh, but comic book fans are passionate about reading. Delays are not a new thing, and they're not on the rise anymore than they have been for the past 10 years, but they're just as aggravating as ever. What causes these delays though?
There are numerous possible reasons for delays. The one reason most fans are used to is that a writer or artist isn't meeting his or her deadline. This is probably the most common of the all the reasons. Most times, it's understandable. I'm not trying, in any way, to underplay the amount of work writers and arists put into a book, especially since their is so much detail within a piece of writing or art.
Before we get all up-in-arms about artists, do something for me. Take a current book, any one will do, and compare the art to early Marvel or DC books, even something Jack Kirby did. The amount of detail going into art now-a-days makes older books look archaic, even though it's from roughly 40 years ago. It's essentially comparing "the wheel" to a Dodge Challenger. As for the writing side of things, stories are infinity more complex than they used to be. In stead of one-issue stories, we have arcs that span years now with a deep, deep continuity. It's a lot for writers to think about. That being said, many delays can be forgivable overall because the workload for both writers and artists can be great.
There are a few other factors in the delay world that aren't as normal. The first is a problem at the printers. This happens very rarely, and sometimes, the company will still put the book out if the problem at the printer is small. The other bigger problem is shipping. Sometimes the distribution of the book never makes it to the comic book store. Usually, it's just a problem at that individual store, but sometimes it can affect a whole region. There are some other delay scenarios, but these four are your main ones.
Here's my number one problem with massive delays. When it comes to the writer or artist delaying a book. It seems like the person responsible for said delays is never punished. Yes, I'm condoning punishing people that delay comic books, and here's why. Like many people around the world, I go to work every single day, and on occasions I get sick. I may take a day off, or at worst, two days off of work. No big deal, but if I took a month off or even more, I'd be fired and someone else would take my job. Sometimes you'll see books get delayed months, and on a few rare occasions ( Ultimate Wolverine vs Hulk), the delay can be years.
Putting aside situations where there is either a family or health crisis, I've heard numerous times of something minor coming up in a writer or artists' life (moving, new baby, marriage) and the book will be delayed for quite a long time. The thing that gets me is in the digital age, you can draw, ink, color, and write books all from your own home. You really don't have to go anywhere to do your job, assuming you have a home studio if you're an artist. Aside from that, many people that work have these same problems, yet they still get to work every single day without a problem. What has bugged me more than anything was a few years back when an artist for a popular DC book was tweeting that he didn't have time to meet deadlines for a book because he was playing Xbox. A giant facepalm moment.
When it comes down to it, I despise delays, and my first reaction is to stomp my feet about it, like a child, and scream about it on the intrawebs, but overall, they can be seen as a positive thing. As you saw above, art is a lot more complex than it used to be and so is writing. Would you rather have some poorly put together fill-in story for a couple issues (which does happen more than you think) while waiting for your book to come out, or would you rather wait through a delay to get the same quality of book you're accustomed to? Personally, I'd rather wait because I hate rushed fill-in issues. However, if it comes down to massive delays that are more than 2-3 months, I'd rather take the fill-in issues to get me by, even if they are sub-par. What do you guys think about delays? Are they worth it? What delayed book moment sticks out in your mind the most?
Mat "InferiorEgo" Elfring is a comedian, teacher, writer, and comic store employee
Follow his madness on twitter: @ inferiorego