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A Few Notes on Wider Internet Discussion About Late Books
posted May 15, 2005
First of all, it's funny to see defenders of mainstream companies criticize fans obsessive about late books when it's the mainstream comics companies that have ingrained that expectation in the heads of such fans.
Second, the real problem with late books is that they're bad for business, particularly in the long run. The strain, of course, falls on the direct market shops. We learned from Image Comics' manipulation of the system in the early to mid 1990s that having money tied up in books that don't come out or come out after interest has died can close stores. While I don't see the stakes being high enough that shops would have to close up, there is definitely a certain amount of lost opportunity in the haphazard way in which comic books come to market, of which late books is a part.
It's probably worth saying as often as possible: the onus for late books doesn't fall on creators; it falls on the publisher.
Similarly, some level of lateness is expected and even tolerable; a culture of lateness, partcularly lateness that has no consequence for those who perpetrate it, is a lost opportunity.
If I understand correctly Dan Buckley's statement on Newsarama.com's fun Joey Q Q&A last Friday that Marvel sometimes has to keep publishing to basically keep the doors open, this might be the most ludicrous and contemptuous thing said by a major comics company executive in years and years.
In general I don't see any solution to this because no one has any power in comics to set direct market policy except Marvel and DC, and I can't believe they'll suddenly wake up and feel like investing in the long term health of the market at the expense of the system they have right now. That's the key: the system works the way the people who have the power of change want it to work. To expect reform from elsewhere depends on shaming people into doing the right thing with little hope for reward beyond doing the right thing.