By now the delays on Flash: Rebirth #4-6 have become legendary. But the book is hardly alone. Just this week, I picked up issues of Dynamo 5 and Ignition City that, despite the series starting on a monthly schedule, came out several months after the previous issue. In fact, a lot of the independent comics I read don’t seem to have a strict schedule. Rather than soliciting them monthly and then rescheduling them the way DC often does, they seem to solicit them as they’re ready.
On the plus side, it’s less frustrating for the reader who doesn’t see a particular issue get scheduled, then delayed repeatedly. On the minus side, the reader has no clue when to expect more.
If the goal is to keep a book to a regular schedule, some of the ways I’ve seen to keep it from falling behind include:
Alternating artists. Madame Xanadu seems to be setting up a pattern of one story arc drawn by Amy Reeder Hadley, then one by a guest artist, then back to Hadley. (Admittedly the first guest artist was Michael Kaluta!)
Miniseries scheduling with lead time. Instead of 12 books a year, release 5 or 6, but work on them ahead of time so that they can come out in the space of 6 months. Astro City took this route years ago and will soon be moving back to a monthly schedule. Dynamo 5 and Perhapanauts are headed this way. Interestingly, all of these examples are creator-owned books closely associated with a specific writer/artist team.
Fill-in artists within a story. This seems to be DC’s preferred method on books that they really want to ship before a deadline, like Final Crisis. Of course, unless you get artists who can match styles closely, or divide up the art thematically (by chapter, by viewpoint character, one artist for present-day and another for flashbacks, etc.), the result can be visually jarring. Not a big deal for something that will be read once and then disappear, but problematic for something intended for a longer shelf life at the bookstore.
Fill-in issues. One-shots or short arcs by a completely different creative team than the usual one. DC and Marvel used to keep a few on file for some series, so that if a book was running late they could just pull a replacement off the shelf. (The last time this happened with The Flash was the mountain climbing story that ran right after Geoff Johns left the book in 2005.) These days readers are focused on continuing story arcs, and see fill-ins as intrusions.
Looking at these, I’d have to say I prefer the alternating artist approach. It doesn’t interrupt any longer narrative threads, preserves the artistic integrity of each story, and makes it possible to match art styles to stories.
My least favorite would be art by committee, because unless it’s done carefully, the finished work ends up a visual mish-mash.
Which approaches do you prefer? Which ones bother you? What other solutions have you seen?