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Pipeline, Issue #542

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
Pipeline, Issue #542

ONE MORE DELAY

“One More Day” really IS the sequel to CIVIL WAR, isn’t it? The timing is almost too good – roughly the same time of year, another delay to the end of the year, delays assumed to be on the artist’s part but could be from the writer, etc.

In the end, I can make an argument that this delay wreaks more havoc to creators than the CIVIL WAR delay did. There are actual jobs being lost here. There are pages not being created, comics not being published. During the CIVIL WAR delay, creators could use the extra time as a way to get ahead of schedule. (I don’t know if many did, though. Certainly, Frank Cho missed that boat. CAPTAIN AMERICA requires two pencillers. It’s tough to tell what happened with the others.) Marvel was able to slot in fill-in books to bridge the gap until the next issue of the series. Editors created work for creators and extra product for retailers.

Here, though, retailers get nothing. The two cancelled Spider-Man books may not have been Top Ten titles, but they were solid mid-listers. Their cancellations weren’t supposed to have any impact on the retailing community. Right now, it looks like there are at least eight comics not being published for retailers to sell, Diamond to deliver, readers to enjoy, and creators to create.

There’s no fill-in material being rushed through to replace those missing weeks of “One More Day.” Two Spider-Man titles have already been cancelled, all work being stopped on them. Creators of those other two titles have shifted elsewhere, for the most part, but could very easily have continued working on their titles for an extra two or three months, had this delay been considered at the outset. (Where is Todd Nauck right now?) Perhaps it’s possible that work will continue apace on the pseudo-weekly AMAZING SPIDER-MAN during this delay to ensure no issues are delayed through 2008. Perhaps they’d even go weekly instead of thrice-monthly with the book, to help make up for the lost sales. I said that during the CIVIL WAR delays last year, though, and nothing like it happened. I’m not holding my breath.

Did I mention that this FOUR PART series was announced more than a year ago? FOUR ISSUES couldn’t be finished in a year?!? I recognize that the artist has a busy day job and the writer has had the most insanely busy year of his professional life, but at what point does someone claim responsibility for this one? There’s been very little communication about these delays. It’s been a couple of simple press releases from Marvel, unadorned by so much as a pull quote attributed to an editor. Nobody’s taking credit on this one, which I find odd.

I also wonder if other series will be delayed by this. With Peter Parker’s new status quo under wraps now until January, basically, instead of the originally scheduled October, might there be issues with NEW AVENGERS?

Something else ironic just dawned on me: The delay of “One More Day” means CIVIL WAR artist Steve McNiven’s artistic debut on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has been delayed.

And the circles go round and round. . .

BLOGGING ABOUT

I read Johnny Bacardi’s farewell to the blogosphere last week with more than a little bit of agreement. Much of what he says in it is true regarding the comics blogosphere. There’s a definite echo chamber in effect, but that’s natural. You see it in message boards all the time. You probably saw it in the pre-blogosphere days when columnists/reviewers were king.

But it does leave a big opening out there for someone to fill. Maybe I’m missing it, but where are the longer-form reviewers today? Where are the “average fanboys and fangirls” who write weekly reviews? I see plenty of people writing about how ugly superhero comics have become, or how horrible their creators are for various crimes against humanity. Heck, I engage in that here from time to time. But where are the reviewers? Where do I go to read what someone thought of this week’s NEW AVENGERS or ACTION COMICS? So many blogs are filled with bite-sized pieces, hit-and-run one-line reviews, and snark that it’s tough to find the diamonds in the rough. I went looking last week and couldn’t find much. Maybe I’ve been enjoying the industry analyses to much, myself, but it dawns on me that the reviewers are gone. Bacardi was one of the few who did weekly recaps on the books he read. They might have been short, but they were there.

Right now, it’s only the gang at SavageCritic.com that I can think of as being the kind of bloggers I’m looking for. There’s a healthy dose of unique reviews going on over there, even when the opinions do start bouncing off the echo chamber. Enough of them don’t. Enough come from distinct points of view that they’re interesting to me.

So tell me — what independent blogger is reviewing what we used to refer to as “the mainstream” comics on a regular basis with any sort of detail?

SALES FIGURES

Looking at DC’s sales figures as compiled by Marc-Oliver Frisch is just plain depressing. SUICIDE SQUAD starts as low as the last series did. Books like JONAH HEX and ASTRO CITY are plummeting in sales with every issue. Marvel titles aren’t that much different, either. They may start as high end titles or mid-listers, but eventually they start a steady decline. Every month, most every book bleeds. No wonder Marvel and DC like mini-series. They can’t bleed longer than six months or so.

I wonder how long it would take to see a book like BLUE BEETLE or JONAH HEX or MIDNIGHTER fall to exactly ZERO readers? Is this a case where no book would ever really reach zero readers, but would come very very close to it? Do comic sales follow an asymptote?

Wouldn’t that be an interesting experiment, though? DC could send out a press release claiming to be “100% completely behind this book until nobody’s reading it.”

It’d be fun. And sad.

But, then, sales figures are ALWAYS sad things. Except for WALKING DEAD, FABLES, and Y THE LAST MAN, who hold a rock solid audience every month. Hell, WALKING DEAD is still gaining readers. Gotta love those quick trades!

I just read the most recent WALKING DEAD trade, since I missed an issue somewhere along the way. I definitely think the book reads better as a monthly, and so I think a lot of people new to the series might catch up on the trades and then transition to the floppies. The cliffhangers work much better that way. The trades don’t do anything to differentiate the issues they collect, so the story just keeps chugging along. And while I appreciate the way Robert Kirkman manages to quickly skip ahead in the storyline by a couple of weeks at a go with a simple throwaway line of dialogue, my mind is expecting cliffhangers and resolutions and a stuttering release schedule. I just need to mind which issues are in my collection more closely.

Next week: I go back to reviewing stuff. I promise.

The Various and Sundry blog started a new category devoted to photography this week, as I explore that bold new (to me) world. Plus, a new season for the PBA begins, a couple of fashion-related posts, lotsa video games, my long-delayed full review of my new universal remote control, and more DVD releases.


Everything else: Twitter, Tumblr Blog, The Pipeline Podcast, ComicSpace, and Google Reader Shared Items.

You can e-mail me your comments on this column, or post them for all the world to see and respond to over on the Pipeline Message Board.

More than 800 columns are archived here at CBR and you can get to them from the Pipeline Archive page. They’re sorted chronologically.

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