Late comics have been on the minds of comic publishers recently. Earlier this month Oni Press sent out a press release stating they were "100 percent On-Time" last year, and earlier this week UDON Publishing released a statement saying the company will implement a new production schedule to try and prevent lateness.
"UDON has never been the most ‘timely’ of publishers, though we’ve always been one of the hardest working ones publishing and we’ve been here for 11 years!" says the official statement attributed to the staff of UDON. "We’ve made great strides over the past couple of years, but still, lateness is a problem and it’s one that we take seriously. Recently things had slipped pretty badly with our scheduling, and so we wanted to take a second to explain why sometimes a book is late, and what we’re going to do about it. Out of respect for all parties we can’t talk about individual projects, but just general reasons why a project might miss its release date."
The statement goes on to speak generally about the causes of late books in thee production schedule and the new steps the company is implementing to ensure that it sticks to the announced release dates. In addition to promising to keep an up-to-date list of solicited projects and their release dates on the UDON website, the company also says it's changing its previous stance and doing something that seems shocking it hasn't done before.
"We're not going to announce things until production has already begun," says the statement. "This means there will be a much shorter wait between project announcements and when our books are on store shelves. Not TOO short of course, we still want you guys super-excited for what we’re working on…!"
Many comic companies use the advance solicitations in Diamond's Previews catalog as the formal announcement of a series. The books in Previews are listed three months in advance of intended publication, and this admission by UDON that in the past it didn't even begin production of a book until after it was announced is shocking -- but, unfortunately, probably isn't as rare as you'd expect in the industry. Sometimes when a project is announced, the writer or artist might say in passing that they haven't even begun working on the series itself.
It's admirable that UDON is coming forward and addressing its lateness in a public forum to create an external motivation to get on the right path. Others like Top Cow and creator Robert Kirkman have made public statements promising no late books and kept to that promise for a time, so I'm looking forward to seeing how UDON's future releases pan out.