Rise and shine, sleepyhead; it’s time for Tact is for the Weak, the article that gives out laxative fudge for Halloween!
Last week, I concluded my article with a plea for you, the comics fans, to let me know what issues bothered you the most. Well, the showing was poor (to say the least!), and I should just leave you tactlessness…less… this week. But let’s face it: I’m a sucker for an ego boost, and you need your fix. So you all need to thank Mrs. Lisa Lopacinski (and go read her article. No, dumbass, not now! After you read mine!), who recommended that I tackle a wide-spread concern that has been bothering Lisa for some time now: lateness. Now, I personally believe that lateness is an issue that should remain between her doctor, her husband, and herself, but her comments did inspire me to think of an entirely original, article-worthy issue: comic book lateness.
Here’s a scenario sure to send a chill up your spine: you wake up on that most glorious of weekdays (Fridays) and go about your day with a sense of vigor and anxiousness, knowing full well what lies in store for you later that day (no, it’s not the warm embrace of your Significant Other; they secretly hate your guts and no longer find you sexually appealing): the latest edition of Tact is for the Weak comes out at noon! After hours of agonizing and waiting, the hour has come! You sneak past your boss’s door and stealthily log onto your computer with trembling fingers. You hurriedly go to sequart.com and scan the page for the link to your salvation…but (horror of horrors!) the new article isn’t there! You frantically refresh the page over and over, but the result is always the same: no Tact is for the Weak!
…I would continue to elaborate, but I feel nauseous already. The point is, the world would plunge into utter chaos if I were to momentarily abandon my post and produce a new article every week.
The only other times I’ve seen this type of outrage and disbelief (besides Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “nip-slip” and Tinky Winky’s coming-out party) were over the most heinous of comics cardinal sins: delayed books.
One needn’t look far to see how much a title can suffer due to late production. DC Comics’s 2004 Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries, by Geoff Johns, lost all its momentum when key issues were shipped late. In the final pages of GL:Rebirth #4, readers saw Hal Jordan finally rise up from his coffin, only to wait months for the next issue. The conclusion to Marvel Comics’s Spider-man/Black Cat miniseries, written by the inimitable-yet-repulsive Kevin Smith, was how many years late again? Marvel’s Daredevil: Father (by Joe Quesada) was over a year late (way to set the example, Chief Joe!). And the joint DC/Marvel venture JLA/Avengers, by Kurt Busiek and George Perez, suffered a three-month delay of its final issue. Granted, these series were ultimately worth the wait, but they were not worth the comics blue-balls that came with them.
“Well, wait a second,” the dumbass hypothetical dissenting reader might interject, “you can’t rush good stories or art. Some books really are worth the wait, and to rush things would lead to an inferior product! This writer must finally be off his nut!” Well, I’ll have you know that I’ve been off my nut for years, and WE couldn’t be happier.
Furthermore, it’s not necessarily the fault of the writer or artist when a book is late. The editor could be holding the title for last-minute corrections, Diamond Comics Distributors (you know, those bastards) could bungle the shipment, or a bolt of lightning could simply come down with the righteous fury of the heavens and smite the infernal comics database before the book can be printed.
However, that being said, often it is the fault of the creators (see Van Sciver, Smith, and Perez) when a title blows a deadline. Now, I’m a pretty forgiving guy (stop laughing!); one can hardly fault George Perez for his wrist problems during the production of JLA/Avengers. However, deadlines are rigid for a reason, and the bottom line is that if a title has a good chance of not delivering on time, publishers should err on the side of caution when announcing the release date. Nothing’s worse than getting your hopes up like a kid on Christmas morning, only to realize that “Santa” had too much work to do at the office to pick up your presents.
Plus, delayed books don’t just deliver the kiss of death to story momentum and continuity; it’s downright bad business to shill out products on an increasingly inconsistent basis. From the retailers that are forced to order months in advance, to the readers that have no choice but to wait out delay after delay, comic lateness is the mother of all offenses that publishers and distributors (okay, distributor) need to avoid at all costs.
“But Brian,” you may say, “what can we do about this?” Good f***ing question! As readers, our options are limited. We can’t just boycott a book because it’s late; ultimately, our enjoyment of a good story transcends our momentary anger. However, those responsible for late titles should not be let off the hook just because we’re gullible little sheep. Bad business is bad business no matter how you slice it, and in any other industry, this type of failure would result in punitive measures.
My solution for this problem (and many others) is for the creation of a Comics Watchdog Agency. As with the Diamond Situation, there needs to be a non biased third party out there that governs the comics industry. Delayed comics are just as wrong as any other delayed products (such as cars, computers, condoms), yet the government has shown over and over again that it has deemed the comics industry too small to matter (as evidenced by the lack of government action against certain blatant distribution monopolies). Unless Congress suffers a fit of responsibility, the comics industry needs to protect itself with an agency devoted to the governance of all things comics.
In addition to its establishment as a governing authority, this agency should have the power to enforce policy, and in this case, I suggest that late comics and related products should be met by forcing publishers to lower the prices on these “damaged goods,” with an increasing mandatory price reduction on that title for each additional transgression by the publisher. For instance, the first time a title is late, the publisher might get off with a warning, but if it happens again, the price of the title should be cut by, say, 3% (and in such a way as to reduce costs for the readers and retailers so as not to force comic shops to shoulder the weight). After a year of punctual shipment, titles can be allowed to regain their original price tags, but if the title can’t go a full year without a late book, an additional 3% should be cut for every subsequent offense.
Basically, as long as someone is out there watching over the industry, we’ll all breathe a little easier. However, such a system will only exist if the demand is there, and that’s where you come in! Start heckling folks at conventions! Start writing editorials! Put a flaming bag of dog sh** on Quesada’s porch! Send Didio hate-mail! Do something, you lazy sacks of sh**!!
*pant! pant!* Whew. Well, I’d hate to end things on a screaming low note this week, so let’s all take a deep breath and honor the winner of this week’s Tactless Book of the Week Award.
This week, the award goes to: DC Comics’s Green Lantern #9. I am very disappointed here; not only did DC manage to screw up one of my favorite ongoing titles, but they had the gall to knock Marvel off the Tactless Wall of Shame after only one week! But I digress; this week’s Green Lantern is not receiving the award because of lateness or poor art/plot; the book has earned the award by giving in to a common sin nowadays: the variant cover (yet another completely original issue that Lisa Lopacinski did not mention. Remember to read her column, Counter Intelligence). For no discernable reason whatsoever (except to artificially manufacture demand), DC has offered variant covers for this and the last issue of Green Lantern in a 1:10 ratio.
Now, I know that DC can get it right with variants; with the current Infinite Crisis, and even the first issue of the current Green Lantern series, variant covers were offered at an equal rate of 1:1, so as to give fans a choice, rather than yet another synthetic collector’s item. Seriously; if you’ve got Ethan Van Sciver or Neal Adams working full time on a kickass cover, why the f*** would you want to limit the number of books sporting those covers? STUPID!
Well, that’s all the time we have this week, folks. Make ABSOLUTELY SURE to stop in next week, as I pick fight so big, I actually already know what it’s going to be! It’s gonna be me vs. the government, baby! And it’s not what you think it’s going to be, so don’t give me any bullsh** about politics until after you read the damn article. And remember: when in doubt, GO FOR IT!