American comic books as we know it were born in the early 1900s as an extension of the magazine format, which hit upon monthly deadlines to provide a new issue on newsstands each month for readers and passers-by. Although delays popped up on occasion in the "newsstand" era of comics, it wasn't until the advent of the direct market in the '70s that allowed the loosening of deadlines instead of the strict use of fill-in artists, inventory stories and the like. You may or may not have been there to recall, but even the seminal series "Watchmen" had two unscheduled delays where issues came out a month late.
Back in June, we surveyed the current crop of comics to identify the most prominent late titles currently underway, and thanks to the multitude of responses from CBR readers we have returned to continue our analysis of the disheartened trend with 29 more entries on CBR's Late List. Take note: this list covers titles that were not only announced but solicited for purchase to retailers via the Diamond Comics distribution system.
From DC Comics issues bridging Batman's gap from August to the New 52 to a raft of Top Cow and Image titles supposedly on the supposedly cusp of returning to stores and from big updates on Warren Ellis' output to news of a Jim Steranko project that's 12 years in the making, this installment of the Late List is sure to note familiar faces as well as some of the more surprising delays in comics.
Batman: The Dark Knight #5Solicited for release on June 29, 2011
Missing For One Month
Status: Shaken Up
David Finch came to DC as an all-star talent, and on top of a hefty cover schedule got an opportunity to both write and draw comics with the new series "Batman: The Dark Knight." But the time involved in creating a book from the ground up took its toll on Finch, leading DC to call in fill-in artist Jay Fabok midway through #5 . DC Editor-In-Chief Bob Harras tells CBR the incoming fifth issue will wrap up the current story arc, answering "all the questions readers have had about Dawn Golden, Etrigan the Demon, and the Dark Knight himself." After that, the freshman series will be re-launched with a new #1 with writer Paul Jenkins joining Finch to help stabilize the title's erratic shipping schedule.
Batman Incorporated #8Solicited for release on June 22, 2011
Missing for Five Weeks
Many of Grant Morrison's Batman titles have been hosted by delays in the past few years, but just how this one has developed caught our attention. DC regularly updates release dates for late titles on its website, but currently they have "Batman Incorporated" #8 not coming out until August 24, two weeks after #9 is scheduled. When asked about this, DC clarified the situation (and gave us the exclusive) that #9 and #10 would be released as an over-sized one-shot titled "Batman Incorporated: Leviathon Strikes," to serve as a bridge to the new "Batman Incorporated" series coming out in early 2012.
Artifacts #9Solicited for release on May 25th
Missing For Two Months
Delays have plagued both Top Cow and the entire Image line since its inception in the early '90s, and it looks like that trend is resurfacing as all four of Top Cow's key titles are experiencing delays. The event series "Artifacts" has had several delays that spanned four months over eight issues. Despite a rotating roster of artists every four issues, with four issues to go and five months left in the calendar year this series might not finish up until 2012. When asked for comment, Image Comics said "Artifacts" #9 will ship sometime in August.
99 DaysSolicited for release on June 1, 2011
Missing for Two Months
Status: Back On Track
Artist Kristian Donaldson had been working on this Vertigo Crime graphic novel as far back as September 2008, with the book being solicited for June 2011 before being pushed back on numerous occasions until its current August 17 street date. Review copies have already gone out on the book, so no more delays are expected.
The Darkness #93Solicited for release on May 18, 2011
Missing for Two Months, Two Weeks
Just as the other Top Cow titles on the list have, "The Darkness" has weathered a string of delays over the course of its run. The current "Outer Darkness" story arc has released three issues in the past five months, pushing the title further into the red. Asked for comment, Image said that this book will ship sometime in August.
Witchblade #147Solicited for release on May 18, 2011
Missing for Two Months, Two Weeks
Much like its spiritual sibling series "The Darkness," this title has had more than its share of delays in recent years. To crunch numbers, this long-running title has released 146 issues over the 189 months it's been around ("Witchblade" #1 came out in November 1995), giving this "monthly" title an average release rate of nine issues per year (though that doesn't take into account spinoff issues and other special events). When asked for comment, Image said that this issue will ship sometime in August.
Lady Mechanika #3Solicited for release on April 2011
Missing For Three Months
Aspen Comics is no stranger to delayed books, but given the groundswell of positive reviews from this new series the lateness is only more striking. Issue #2 experienced a seven month delay before finally being released in July, but there's been no word about re-soliciting #3 for a new shipping date.
UPDATE: Although the publisher didn't reply to inquiries prior to the original publication of this article, Aspen Comics' Editor-In-Chief Vince Hernandez has since informed us of the delays and the title's new schedule:
First, a thousand apologies to the fans and retailers for the long delays between Lady Mechanika issues #1 and #2, and for the wait for #3. After we released issue #1, we encountered some personal challenges that delayed the release of the series for, and while it is no excuse, it set us back on the release schedule. As retailers can note, we have held off on soliciting Lady Mechanika #4 so that we can ensure a concrete date for its release and make sure it continues the standard of quality fans have already seen on previous LM issues. We recognize the importance of avoiding delayed titles and this summer we've made great strides to improve the release schedule across the entire publishing line. Lady Mechanika #3, while still one of the delayed titles, is quickly being finished up as creator Joe Benitez is putting his heart and soul into each and every page -- something I think is evident with each issue. We're targeting an early fall release for #3 and will solicit #4 when we feel comfortable that its release date will be met. We greatly appreciate everyone's patience as I can assure you, the release of more Lady Mechanika and other Aspen titles is priority number one over here.
Invincible #82Solicited for release on April 13, 2011
Missing For Three Months, Three Weeks
Despite making a joke out of late titles in a recent issue, Robert Kirkman has his own issues with lateness when it comes to his primary creator-owned series. Both this title and the spin-off series "Guarding The Globe" are behind when it comes to hitting their advertised release dates. For this title, original series artist Cory Walker has been rotating in for certain arcs to give artist Ryan Ottley a chance to catch up, but the tradeoff hasn't kept the book monthly. When asked about the delays, Image says the series is "in progress" and new issues "will be out when they're done."
The Magdalena #8Solicited for release on March 23, 2011
Missing for Four Months
This delayed issue is the second of a two-part story from returning artist Keu Chau, and despite this storyline being in the works for years it's failed to hit the date promised in Top Cow's solicitations. According to Image, this book will come out sometime in August.
Batman: Odyssey #7Solicited for release on March 23, 2011
Missing For Four Months
The "Odyssey" subtitle of this Batman maxi-series describes both the story itself and Neal Adams' journey towards publication. The legendary writer/artist had been discussing this project for years before DC officially announced it, and after six issues, the planned 12-part story has fallen behind. Adams has been vocal online in blaming the delays on DC; the publisher has since cancelled #7 in favor of re-launching the series with a new #1 in October 2011. According to Adams' son Josh, the twelfth installment of "Odyssey" has already reached the inking phase.
Guarding The Globe #6Solicited for release on January 26, 2011
Missing for Six Months
Announced as a bold expansion of the "Invincible" super hero universe, "Guarding The Globe" has found itself beset with attacks from the feared super-villain the Deadline on all fronts through the series' release. The book has averaged an issue every three months since its debut last summer, pushing the final issue (and the solicited collection) further and further back. Although not officially announced, series artist Ransom Getty dropped off the title after issue #5 in favor of working for DC according to his DeviantArt Journal, creating a mystery of who will be drawing the sixth and final issue of the series. Image tells CBR that this final issue is in the works and will be out soon.
Spawn #210Solicited for release on December 22, 2010, Resolicited for August 3, 2011
Missing for Seven Months, One week (Or Just One Week)
Status: Shipping to stores August 10
It's one of the longest running series in independent comics, and one of the most habitual offenders when it comes to lateness. After getting several months behind with "Spawn"'s schedule, Image cancelled those original solicitations in favor of a new solicitation with an amended release date. So although "Spawn" #210 was originally solicited for release in December 2010, Image later re-advertised the same issue for a new release date of August 3.
UPDATE: Image tells us the book is running a week behind it's new schedule, with "Spawn" #210 expected to arrive on August 10. After years of delays, "Spawn" has been practically angelic in its releases, releasing 10 issues in just seven months. McFarlane spoke with us at length a recent CBR TV video promising 15 Issues of "Spawn" in 2011, which would put him well on his way to catching up to the solicit dates promised to retailers and readers.
GÃ˜DLAND #35Solicited for release on November 24, 2010
Missing For Eight Months
A modern cult classic, Joe Casey and Tom Scioli's "GÃ˜DLAND" has been both a nostalgic look back at classic comics style and also a step forward in storytelling, but that road has not been without bumps. Since its July 2005 debut it's had several delays and hiatuses, and signs have been pointing towards a finale as far back as issue #25 when the Image solicitations heralded a finale with issue #36. Casey himself refuted that information from the publisher as untrue in an interview with CBR back in 2008, but time will tell where this issue ends. The artist posted pages from the missing #35 back in April 2011 but as of today no issue has reached shelves. The publisher said that the series is still in progress.
The New Teen Titans: GamesSolicited for release on November 2010 (and 1989)
Missing for Nine Months (or more depending on how you look at it)
Back in the late '80s, Marv Wolfman and George Perez were at the top of their game and the graphic novel "New Teen Titans: Games" was going to be a milestone for them, for the characters, and the then-new graphic novel format. But Perez had an artist's version of writer's block some 80 pages into the 120 page effort, leading to the project going on and off the back burner for more than twenty years. After years of speculation, in January 2010 DC announced it was back on for a November 2010 release only to see that come and go as well. At this year's WonderCon, Wolfman said Perez finished the artwork back in 2010 but DC continues to solicit and re-solicit the book. Last time we checked, DC had it penciled in for release on September 24 2011, but most may want to wait until they hold it in their hands to be sure.
Artesia: Besieged #4Solicited for release on September 2010
Missing for 10 Months
Status: On The Back Burner
Despite being the defacto flagship of the Archaia comics line, Mark Smylie's "Artesia" has found itself on the back burner thanks to Smylie's other job as Chief Creative Officer and Founder of the company. This long-running independent series has been in a standstill after this fourth issue of the "Besieged" miniseries missed its projected September 2010 release date. Back in February 2010 Archaia Marketing Manager Mel Caylo said Smylie expected to complete the issue by April 2011, but nothing else has been said regarding the subject.
Whatever Happened To Baron Von Shock #5â€¨Solicited for release on September 29, 2010
Missing For 10 Months
Ushered to Image Comics' by Rob Zombie's longtime comics collaborator Val Staples, each of the four previous issues experienced minor delays but #5 has proven to a hurdle yet to be jumped. When reached for comment, Image said the series was cancelled.
Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island #4Solicited for release on July 2010
Missing for One Year
Of all of Warren Ellis' creator-owned titles at Avatar of late, this one is the least late, but even then it's only released three issues in 19 months. The delays on the fourth and final issue of "Captain Swing" are attributable according to Ellis on Avatar however, as in July 2011 he stated that it was "completed many months ago." CBR inquired about this, but has received no response from Avatar.
Aliens: Fast Track To HeavenSolicited for release on June 2010>
Missing for One Year, One Month
Dark Horse has been publishing "Alien" comics longer than most publishers have done licensed comics, but it seems there's still a few kinks to work out. Announced in January 2010 and solicited for a June release that year, this graphic novel by Liam Sharp has been pushed back on multiple occasions despite Sharp himself stating he finished the book in February 2010. Dark Horse currently has it listed for a December 21, 2011 release.
The Great Unknown #4Solicited for release on March 2010
Missing For One Year, Four Months
Status: On The Back Burner
Readers of this creator-owned series have been familiar with delays, as issue two came three months after issue one and issue three took 11 months for release. Writer/artist Duncan Rouleau has presumably been busy with his day job in animation as part of Man of Action ("Ben 10," "Generator Rex"), but readers and this writer hope Rouleau gets back to finish this five-issue series sooner rather than later. Image says Rouleau is currently working on finishing this issue.
Anna Mercury 2 #4Solicited for release on July 2009
Missing for Two Years
Status: Severely Delayed
One of several casualties of Warren Ellis' hard drive crash in 2008, "Anna Mercury 2" #4 was hit hard with delays that have been part of the book since its launch. The last issue came out in December 2009, and Ellis has stated that readers should "look for a completion around Jan 2012". At press time, Avatar has not responded to inquiries about this matter from CBR.
Doktor Sleepless #14Solicited for release on February 2009
Missing For Two Years, Six Months
Status: Severely delayed
"Doktor Sleepless" was promoted as a thematic sequel to "Transmetropolitan" but has been plagued by stops and starts with 2-month gaps between some issues while #10 and #11 shipped in the same month. In June 2011, Ellis updated readers of his forum that he plans an extra-sized final issue for early 2012.
Necessary Evil #10Solicited for release on January 2009
Missing for Two Years, Seven Months
Status: Missing In Action
Back in the summer of 2009, it was announced that Cartoon Network had optioned Joshua Williamson's "Necessary Evil" for development, but that influx of attention didn't do much to push the comic to completion. The nine issue series had a 10th issue scheduled for release back in January 2009, but it never materialized, with Williamson telling CBR later that an online release was in its future. Although Williamson just announced a new ongoing series at Image called "Xenoholics," "Necessary Evil" #10 has yet to be released.
Gemini #5Solicited for release on September 3, 2008
Missing for Two Years, 11 Months
Status: On The Back Burner
One of several in writer Jay Faerber's family of creator-owned titles that includes "Dynamo 5" and "Noble Causes," the delay of the final issue of the "Gemini" miniseries have been attributed to the busy schedule of artist Jon Sommariva. Faerber has stated that Sommariva is working on it slowly while balancing other projects, but with September 3 being the three year anniversary of its promised release it might be time to move on. When asked about this series, Image Comics said the series has been cancelled.
Newuniversal: Shockfront #3Solicited for release on July 9, 2008
Missing for Three Years
In August of last year, Marvel's Tom Brevoort said the project was "somewhat back-burnered" in favor of devoting Ellis' time to other projects, while leaving the door open to "get back around to it at some point down the line." While Brevoort left a (small) door open for a continuation, Ellis himself responded saying the series was effectively "dead". When reached for comment, Marvel confirmed the series was cancelled.
Gutsville #4 Solicited For release on August 29, 2007
Missing for Three Years, 11 Months
Status: On The Back Burner
It's the series that put Simon Spurrier and Frazer Irving on the map for American comics, but also the one thing they have never completed. Delays plagued the book early on, with a two month gap between #1 and #2 and a six month delay before "Gutsville" #3 hit shelves. Paying work for the two creators at Marvel and DC took time away from working on this creator-owned book, and in October 2009 Image sent word via Diamond that the series was canceled. But "Gutsville" fans have hope, in December 2010 artist Frazer Irving announced online that he had resumed work on the series -- presumably in-between paying gigs. However, when CBR asked Image for comment this week, they stated that this series had been cancelled.
Sharknife Double ZSolicited for release on July 2007
Missing for Four Years
Status: Signs of Life
Corey "The Rey" Lewis is nothing if not ambitious, with his art as well as his deadlines. Springing out of the same nucleus of comics talent that brought Bryan Lee O'Malley to the comics industry, Lewis promised a second volume of "Sharknife" in the pages of the first volume, optimistically promising a second in the fall of 2005. Oni didn't solicit that volume until July 2007, but even then the book has experienced serious delays as Lewis focused on other creator-owned and work-for-hire projects. In the past few months Lewis has said in numerous places that work is done on the book, but Oni has yet to re-solicit this 200-page sequel.
Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target #2Solicited for release on December 2002
Missing for Seven Years, Seven Months
Initially announced to accompany the then-upcoming "Daredevil" movie with Ben Affleck, only one issue hit shelves before the series hit a big roadblock. At the time, writer Kevin Smith took blame for the delays due to his work on the film "Jersey Girl" which also impacted another comic series, "Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do". The latter series was eventually completed in early 2006 but "Target" has been MIA. Smith did complete some work on a second issue, and Marvel replaced original series artist Glenn Fabry with Adam Kubert who completed several pages of the second issue that remain unpublished. Marvel cancelled the series with Diamond Distributors years ago, and told CBR the series was cancelled in full.
Chandler: Red TideSolicited for release on December 1999
Missing for 11 Years, Seven Months
Status: On The Back Burner
Originally published in 1976, Jim Steranko's "Chandler: Red Tide" was one of the first of what would later be called 'graphic novels.' Out of print since its original press run, Dark Horse and Steranko have been working for the past twelve years to re-release it. Instead of just a simple re-printing of the original material, Steranko opted to revamp the book with new art and text. The promised series has become such a mystery that Dark Horse has added the question of its re-release to its online FAQ and has re-solicited it numerous times over the past 12 years. Just this year, Dark Horse announced they were going to attempt to release it as part of their re-launched "Dark Horse Presents" title; a preview is promised in the issue set for an August 24th release.
Look for a future installment of "The Late List" here at CBR covering titles that were promised but never reached Diamond's "Previews" catalogue.