When the news broke yesterday that Marvel would delay the release of "Civil War" to allow artist Steve McNiven time catch-up and finish the series himself versus bringing in another artist, the reaction was loud and sometimes contentious in comics communities all over, including here on CBR's own Civil War Forum.
First up, Mark Millar responded to the news on his forum here:
All I can say is that this is really good of Marvel. Why? Let me explain. Civil War is seven issues long and both the first and last issues were extra-sized. Steve is a pretty fast artist, maybe a nine or ten books a year guy, but he only had a six or seven week head start on this series. Absolutely nothing at all. And it was always going to catch up with him, especially given that 100 characters appear in every issue and it's the most labour-intensive thing he's ever drawn. It also happens to be the BEST work of his career and Marvel could easily-- EASILY-- just done what DC did and stick fill-in guys on the series. In fact, we EXPECTED it for issue five because we knew a lot of titles like FF and so on were tying in.
But you know what? They didn't. MCW has rocketed Marvel profits lately. The new figures aren't available yet, but we're doubling and sometimes trebling the sales on the tie-in books, the anthology title-- an ANTHOLOGY TITLE-- is doing over 100K and we're heading towards 400K with the book itself. Marvel believe in the project and they feel me and Steve have formed a good team. Something they don't want to fuck with for the sake of squeezing a few more bucks into the next financial quarter and so, after doing their sums, decided they'll take a hit. Now this is a pain in the arse for being reading the book because it means waiting a few more weeks for Steve to finish. It's also a pain for people enjoying the tie-ins. But Steve is hammering away here and these books will all be done and dusted by the New Year and the series, and tie-ins, will all be published completely soon afterwards by the original teams and without some grotty fill-ins. It also means the collections remain looking great.
It's a hiccup, sure, but I appreciate what they're doing. Seriously, it would have been easy for them and made them MUCH more money to get someone else in to draw issue five, but they believe in our thing, it's worked out bigger and better than any of us dreamed and they want it to look as cool as it was originally conceived.
In short, apologies for the art delays, but it's worth it.
Later in the day, McNiven spoke with fans through Mark Millar on the Millarworld Forums and addressed the issue:
Hey folks, just thought I should get a post up here. First up apologies to the fans and retailers of civil war. The responsibility for the art delays lies with me, period. I've been working harder than I ever have, (and this is my third profession), but this is the hardest project I've ever done and as Mark said, I had little lead time. It was as big a surprise to me as anyone else that Marvel changed its publishing schedule to allow Mark and I to finish the series together.
When I was sent word of this yesterday, I realized the problems that this will cause for readers and retailers immediately. After reading Hitchy's post I am beginning to understand why Marvel went this way, but it still amazes me. Of course I am proud of the work I have done on Civil War and I am chuffed that Marvel feels the same way, but I worry for the people that could be negatively effected by this. Please realize that the art delays were never meant in a malicious way nor am I being a prima donna with my work. What I'm trying is to do service to the exceptional story that Mark has written. That's it, and is all that I focus on when I'm at the table. I let Marvel know exactly where I am on a daily basis, from day one, so that they can make the decisions like the one they have made. I'll continue to work hard to put out the rest of this series with the best work I can do in the time I have been given and I hope that you, the fans and retailers will stick with us, 'cause Mark has written a real gem here.
"Hitchy's post" is in reference to a message left by artist Bryan Hitch earlier in the day supporting Marvel's decision to delay the series:
It's easy to think that having a late book is terminal and everybody flies into a panic because it's been a condition of the industry for so long. This is an industry that has, for most of it's seventy years, made it's living on periodicals and we all know they have a limited shelf life. If your book is a month late n the magazine racks your space goes to somebody else because the stores and newsagents wnat it filled.
This is not the case now; for a start comics are mostly sold in specialty stores and they will keep books on shelves for far longer than a single month, secondly there has been an enormous growth in revenue from collections and so called graphic novels.
Years back Perez hit his deadlines on Crisis by eventually going to breakdowns but had Ordway on finishes so the standard was high. Nobody was expecting twenty-five years of continued reformatting and sales of the collections, they were just aiming at deadlines. However, as much as I love my Absolute collection of Crisis as a mark of my comics reading childhood, I don't love the fact they had three different styles on the finish from three different inkers. I hate that on Infinite Crisis that so many cooks are involved when the fab Phil J should have been allowed to complete the project for my own tastes, anyway.
Two of my favourite re-reads in collections are Dark Knight and Watchmen. Nobody now remembers that each was late at the time of the original periodicals but that was a blip, a couple of years in each's 25 year publication history and these will STILL be published 25 years from now. I love these books but how awful would it have been if the otherwise brilliant Jim Aparo had drawn issue 3 of DK, or that DC had Alan Davis do an issue of Watcmen. Both brilliant guys but you would have hated the blip in the collections for the short term gain.
These days we have the benefit of hindsight and there are precedents. You can't set out to create a classic or a series with longevity but it's getting easier for publishers to spot them as they unfold because the collection market is so large now and one can see what works and what doesn't. A fill-in might potentially stave off an unfortunate delay but hurt the long term property potential and the only reason a company would consider a fill-in necessary would be to avoid a financial hit in the short term not to keep you guys happy. If they are willing to take what must be a massive hit in the pocket, believing in it's long term potential, to allow it's creators to finish the book as intended then that isn't really a bad thing.
If we do things the way they have always been done then we don't develop. It pays to be flexible, I guess and Marvel obviously believe they are doing the best thing in the long game for a product they believe in and one that has already proven more successful than they belived possible.
Mark isn't exaggerating when he talks of how quickly this thing was put together and the small lead time. Nobody had intended the book to even exist; other plans were in place but the geniuses of Bendis and especially Mighty Mark started the ball rolling that Mark would evolve into Civil War (which also means we have to find a new title for our big follow up, so thanks MM). It's also been the biggest jobs of both Markie and Stevie's careers and required an enormous amount of work from both. Watcmen was bi-monthly remember and wasn't a crossover. I envy them their massive sucess but not the even more massive work involved. Nobody gets paid more for working harder in comics.
Mark and Steve should be applauded for the efforts as those efforts are a clear indicator of why the book is a success. Marvel should also be applauded for making sure everybody gets the best prossible product. It's a delay guys, not a cancellation. Certainly not a crisis!
What do you think? Need some Civil War talk to hold you over? Then stop by CBR's Civil War Forum today.