Good Art vs. Good Business
So last week in an interview with Jim Lee, he mentioned that WildCats #2 has been re-solicited from its original release date (yesterday) till next March. Now, Lee insists that the comic will come out well before March he just doesn’t know when. That is more than a little frustrating, not simply because I was really looking forward to the issue, but because it is just another in a long line of delayed books. Planetary, Seven Soldiers, Wonder Woman, Ultimate Wolverine vs. Ultimate Hulk, almost all of Marvel’s main titles, the list of comics that have regularly missed their release dates is starting to grow and grow (I’m not even going to mention Daredevil: Father or All-Star Batman and Robin). I do not want to become want to be one of those people who bitches and moans and shakes his finger at the comic companies. The years of enjoyment they have supplied have earned them a level of loyalty from me. However, I can’t help but wonder why the number of late running books have increased. I think it’s a question between art and business.
A good business makes money; the comic book business is no exception. A good comic business finds ways to enhance the medium while making said money. This doesn’t mean variant chromium covers on some meaningless crossovers *cough* the nineties *cough*. No, this means finding the best writers, artist, inkers, editors, etc., and putting out quality books. The more well known these creators are, the more money they are going to bring in. That is why you have the superstars of our industry working so many books. Sounds like a great idea, an infallible plan.
Writers and artists gain recognition—hit that A-list status—based on skill. They write just a little better, draw just a little better, whatever. These are the people who dominate the industry, who get a ton of the work, and I’m not saying that they don’t deserve it because their art (I’m using the word in the all-encompassing term) is that good. Here’s the problem though, here is where that infallible plan shows its holes.
You see good art takes time. Hell, as an only okay creative writing MFA student, I can tell you that bad art takes time. We wouldn’t respect Jim Lee if he put out stick figures, just like we wouldn’t appreciate Warren Ellis if he wrote crappy stories. These artists put a lot of work in the pursuit of creating a comic that they feel is excellent. There are only so many hours in the day, so many books, T.V. shows, or movies one can work on. Thus our books get delayed. Thus we don’t buy them when they do come out. That’s bad business.
As I said I’m not out to complain about the books not coming out monthly. These guys work hard, and they have a lot on their plate. But I can’t help wondering that if there is a solution for all this. Maybe don’t put the majority of your creative responsibility in a core people. There are a lot of good writers and artists, try them out because maybe then they will hit A-list. Or maybe the artists who are getting the work should just remember to limit themselves like Kurt Busiek with Aquaman. However, to quote Jim Lee:
It's so easy to say, "Yes."[to an assignment] To please the fans, the editors, the marketing people, the retailers.
Don’t take this as pissy. But I think the fans, the editors, the marketing people, the retailers would all be happier with books that came out on time.