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that’s a one hot team every ten issues average

February 24th, 2012 by | Tags: , , , ,

Marvel’s been double-shipping comics lately, taking advantage of an increased shipping schedule to pull a little more money from their fanbase. As a result… the quality and consistency of their books has slipped over. Here’s a quick copy/paste from my buddy Ron Richards’s Marvel May solicitations post that does a pretty good job of explaining the situation:

To put it in perspective, here’s a rundown of several single issues coming out in May. Series that previously featured a “hot” artist who received critical and fan praise, and the artist replacing them:
Secret Avengers #27 – you loved Gabe Hardman on this book that JUST relaunched with a new creative team, so HERE’S RENATO GUEDES!
Ultimate Spider-Man #10 – you loved Sara Pichelli and her new take on Ultimate Spider-Man, so HERE’S DAVID MARQUEZ!
Ultimate Comics The Ultimates #10 and #11 – Esad Ribic blew your minds with the opening chapters of Hickman’s run, so HERE’S LUKE ROSS!
Scarlet Spider #5 – you loved Ryan Stegman after he launched this title, so HERE’S NEIL EDWARDS!
Fantastic Four #605.1 – you loved Steve Epting, so HERE’S MIKE CHOI (Speaks for itself after last week’s Green Lantern #6 atrocity)!
Defenders #6 – you loved Terry Dodson, so HERE’S VICTOR IBANEZ!
Daredevil #12 – you loved Paolo Rivera SO HERE’S CHRIS SAMNEE – oh wait, this is a good one…
EXCEPT, next issue…
Daredevil #13 – you loved Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee, so HERE’S KHOI PHAM!
Don’t mind me, my head’s too busy spinning.

That’s a lot of changes. Most mainstream artists can just about keep a monthly schedule. Previously, you’d see two stable art teams alternating arcs on a book to keep the book on schedule and with something of a cohesive look. With the double-shipping, stable art teams are looking less and less likely.

Daredevil is a good example of what I’m talking about, and why these art changes are so frustrating. At launch, it was announced as a book that would feature Mark Waid writing with Paolo Rivera (and his pop Joe Rivera inking him!) and Marcos Martin alternating on art duties. Javier Rodriguez was going to color Rivera, Muntsa Vicente was going to color Martin, and Joe Caramagna was going to letter all of it. That’s a good team–an astounding one, honestly. Alone, Rivera and Martin are beasts. Putting them on the same book is like having putting on a concert with fifteen Michael Jacksons on stage at once, or going to a basketball game that’s Jordan on Jordan. (It’s a pretty good comic.)

By the time we hit issue 13, we’ll have seen Rivera, Martin, Kano, Chris Samnee, and Khoi Pham illustrating the book. That’s five artists over thirteen issues. Some will have done one issue, others just a few. And on a certain level, sure, all of these artists are pretty good. Daredevil is going to be a good looking comic regardless, and will presumably remain well-written. But on another level, good looking isn’t a binary proposition. Martin’s good looking is different from Rivera’s good looking. Samnee and Kano are two entirely different types of good looking. With alternating teams of two, you can maintain a real visual identity. That’s what a stable art team does–it gives the book a look. Bringing in five artists onto a book in just over a year is far from stability. It’s another hoop for your suspension of disbelief to jump through so you believe in the story.

I saw a Marvel editor going off on Twitter about how artist switch-ups aren’t a problem, because hey, you’re still buying the comic, aren’t you? What’s the deal? It’s not like they’re ugly. I disagree. Vehemently disagree, in fact.

Think of it like this. When you hopped on Daredevil, you hopped on for Waid, Rivera, and Martin. They set a specific mood with their first issue. For another artist to tag in, even a good one, muddies that mood. Samnee doesn’t draw like Kano, who doesn’t draw like Martin, who doesn’t draw like Rivera. Rivera and Martin are complementary (though perhaps not as complementary as Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin, another killer duo), and their mood (which is aided and abetted by Waid’s script, of course) is a very specific thing.

When you begin adding to that mood, Daredevil becomes a different comic. It’s like if the actors changed forty-five minutes into a film, or if the new hot single by your favorite artist changed BPM and singers halfway through, but kept the same subject matter. It’s not that strange a comparison, I don’t think. There’s a skipped beat there. Every artist is unique, and swapping an artist out of one story (and make no mistake, Waid is clearly scripting one story) and slotting another in changes that story fundamentally.

I’m actually having a hard time explaining why because it’s so obvious and basic to me. It looks different, and comics are a visual medium. You don’t just read comics–you look at them. The art matters, and when the art changes, the story changes. All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder is such a beautiful hot mess because Jim Lee is the quintessential superhero artist of our day and Frank Miller scripted a story that needed a more cartoony, flexible style. I talk about it here a little, but Lee is simultaneously the best and worst choice to illustrate what Miller was trying to do. If Miller drew ASBAR, it would have been received differently. It follows, then, that Lee’s ASBAR is not Miller’s, just like Rivera’s Daredevil is not Kano’s. It isn’t a value judgment. It’s an objective fact. Blue is not red, but they are both nice colors. Same thing.

These changes also have this unwanted effect of devaluing the artist, in a way. It sets the writer up as the prime mover on a comic book. The writer is the one constant in all these creative changes, and that changes the conversation from “Waid and Rivera are doing Daredevil!” to “Rivera is drawing Waid’s Daredevil next issue!” There is a difference there, and it affects how we think and talk about comics. It gives the writer ownership of the book, and makes the artist secondary, despite the artist being such a huge part of the success of the book.

(I realize that I’m giving short shrift to the inkers, colorists, and letterers here, but please believe that I love you guys, and do not wish to underestimate your influence. Pardon my shorthand.)

I don’t expect every creative team to stay together forever. But the constant musical chairs, right when things are getting good, is off-putting. We’re paying more money for less content, and we can’t even get consistent content. I understand why Marvel double ships comics, but am I really going to keep buying two issues a month when the creative team is compromised like it is on so many books in the latest round of solicits?

I buy cape comics because I like seeing what a small, dedicated team can do with these old characters I grew up on. Spider-Man has no value in and of himself. I might get curious about a series featuring Spider-Man and Hypno Hustler, but without a strong creative team, it’s nothing. It’s worse than nothing. Uncanny X-Force is a dumb idea on paper. It’s the team of X-Men that go out and murder people at night. But it came roaring out of the gates with Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, and Dean White firing on all cylinders, including cylinders I didn’t even know Marvel had. That team made that series. By issue eight, Billy Tan was drawing the book, the quality took a nosedive, the magic was broken, and I bailed out. Why was Tan drawing it? Because Marvel shipped six issues of the series between the cover dates of May 2011 and July 2011, tossed out another two in October, and will consistently double-ship the book from February to April.

Uncanny X-Force 17-22 feature five different artists. That’s seven issues, including 19.1. There’s no in-story reason for the double-shipping. It just happens. That’s not a problem? It’s enough of a problem that I quit the series, and I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the only one. Maybe it’s just us elitist hipster douchebags dropping books over changes, but I doubt it.

Boiled down, though, my only request is this. If you want us to pay four bucks for 20 pages of comics, then at least let us trust that the reasons we’re reading the series are going to stick around. Let us get a story from a creative team that’s had time to grow together and get in sync. If you want us to pay more for less, at least do us the basic favor of giving us something approaching consistency.

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67 comments to “that’s a one hot team every ten issues average”

  1. Word up.


  2. Actually, Defenders 3, 4, and 5 are one off stories, each with a guest artist, so Terry Dodson can start work on the next full arc. Defenders 5 was accidentally solicited with Dodson as artist.


  3. Don’t forget Billy Tan on Daredevil 10.1! If that and a Punisher crossover doesn’t kill this comic, Khoi Pham is sure to finish the job – yuck.

    I think Kano and Samnee are close enough to Rivera on the stylistic spectrum to work; either would have been a fine replacement for Martin. But instead of that, we’ve got this dopey hopscotch that’s annoying for every reason you say.

    There’s a reason I only own 8 issues of Uncanny X-Force: because that’s how many Jerome Opena has drawn. (Okay, I’m actually missing #4 and I got that Robbi Rodriguez epilogue – he’s good – but you get the point…)

    I was re-reading those Bachalo X-Mens he did with Mike Carey: gaps in the story because I skipped the issues Bachalo did, and every time I turned to a Humberto Ramos page in #200 I felt like throwing the comic at a wall. And I like Humberto Ramos just fine.

    And so on, and so on. Good post.


  4. I love Chris Samnee’s work.

    He’s in my top 5 current artists working, but despite being brilliant and amazing the art change from Sara Pichelli to Samnee almost totally salted Ultimate Spider-Man’s game.

    It was just a straight up tone shift 178°.

    When it was La Fuente and Pichelli there was at least some kind of symmetry to the art like with Rivera and Martin but if you start jamming with people who have such distinct and indelible styles on the same title you can going to get a tonal wreck. I personally would rather the books be late and holistic than double shipped.

    Samnee and Rivera of DD I can see the kinship at least and seems like a better fit.

    Marvel is like your friend who texts you too much and comments on every facebook post. Give me some damn space! :negativeman:


  5. Spider-Man has no value in and of himself.

    That’s a very bold statement!

    These changes also have this unwanted effect of devaluing the artist, in a way.

    I really like your comment here. By double-shipping, it’s as if Marvel is taking the artists for granted — oh you can’t do the next issue? We’ll get another guy.

    That’s a disservice to the fans who buy it, and it’s a disservice to the title, which was established with that specific tone by the artists. I like looking at Rivera’s pencils, and I also like looking at Samnee’s pencils, but I’ll have seen Samnee on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man as well, and that blurs the visual identity between Daredevil and Spidey.


  6. Yep, I dropped 3 Marvel books because of double shipping and multiple art teams, and that was BEFORE the aforementioned Marvel editor went off (on me!) on Twitter.

    But I don’t know if enough people will drop books for it to make a difference. The constant gouging of generally loyal customers is unfortunate, though.


  7. Something worth thinking about regarding Marvel’s increased production on titles is the challenge to the writers. Since Marvel isn’t putting a year’s worth of books in the can, to feed multiple artists a writer will have to work on different issues at the same time. If these aren’t one-offs (or very separate arcs), that can get tough to manage. And writers ARE the prime movers, in the sense that they have to spark the creative process. So if you see a book with shifting art teams begin to slide(which in fairness to Wacker’s point, Daredevil really hasn’t), the scripts might be contributing in ways that a reader wouldn’t see. It can be rushed or inconsistent due to deadline pressure–or more subtley it could be that the writer wrote it with a different artist in mind. That can really bring a book down. Remember: Sandman didn’t suffer from multiple artists–but Gaiman always knew for whom he was writing (and wrote in order).

    And like Sandman, you have to embrace the multiple artists. If a publisher is trying to cover it up–there’s the recipe for disaster. I don’t think you can expect many artists to deliver the amount of detail and effort that fans want while maintaining a monthly schedule. And now that Marvel is pushing output well past 12 issues per year, multiple art teams is somehing superhero comics should try to turn into a plus.

    Maybe multiple artists can be something that meshes well with the monthly format. If you’re reading these books as single issues and when they come out, that time gap might reduce the jarring effect of changing artists. But I do find that multiple artist in collected editions can be a distraction–especially when the story is ‘written for the trade.’ And I agree that when a publisher gets behind a “new creative team” and then puts a filler(s) while that book is still in single digits, it’s a bit of false advertising. But if you create a publishing culture where guest artists are actually exciting (and think about it–it totally SHOULD be; and I’ll braggingly submit that Cammo and Biz couldn’t be more different, but they work great on Hellblazer), everyone wins.


  8. Love the article Brothers :)

    Your discussion about visual identity for monthly superhero books seems to line up with some thoughts I’ve been having about Archie and Hellboy.

    An Archie comic always looks like an Archie comic, a keen eye would be able to identify which artist is which, no doubt, but to the average reader Archie always looks like Archie. Of course this is helped along by Archie having stricter style guidelines and aiming at a completely different market, but the same thing happens with Hellboy.
    When you think of a Hellboy comic in your head you see the heavy blacks, the straight on framing and the minimalistic rendering (and of coarse the gorgeous Dave Stewart colours). There are some artist I love but I don’t want to see them draw Hellboy because then it wouldnt be Hellboy (I’m thinking guys like Frank Quietly)

    Its interesting how Mike Mignola can work with tonnes of other artist and writer over a heap of titles (Hellboy, BPRD, Abe Sapian, Lobster Johnson, etc.) for over 15 years and they all still have a consistent and interesting visual identity and Marvel is struggling to do it. And this constant double shipping is going to make it damn near impossible.


  9. You know, I’ve been told, over and over, that Steve Wacker is a really nice guy who loves what he does and is terrific to work with.

    maybe one day, I’ll believe it.


  10. @Dan Coyle: I’m not holding my breath on that. Not for the poster boy of the Marvel Frathouse of Ideas.


  11. Between the double shipping of Marvel, the lackluster first arc finales of a lot of the Nu52 and all the legal and other things coming out of the start of this year they have made it incredibly easy for monthly single comics to wash my hands of the Big Two entirely. Image and Dark Horse put out enough quality titles to replace them and I am saving money which can go towards other interesting smaller books.

    I am kinda sad, but at the same point not really.


  12. “When you begin adding to that mood, Daredevil becomes a different comic. It’s like if the actors changed forty-five minutes into a film, or if the new hot single by your favorite artist changed BPM and singers halfway through, but kept the same subject matter.”

    Yes and no. Mid-issue? Definitely. Mid-arc? Usually. Issue to issue…I dunno. Maybe the execution is failing on Daredevil, but hypothetically, it could absolutely work to have the writer’s voice as the beat/through-line, and have a bunch of different artists coming in on top of that.

    Not so much as an anthology thing, just like…having different directors on a season of a TV show, or something.


  13. […] said that artist changes due to double-shipping mainstream comics devalues the artist. Not all art changes are evil, though. Sure, some of them are of the Final Crisis variety and […]


  14. Great article.

    When will Marvel and DC learn? I mean, apparently sales are good, but what if they kept a consistent team? Might a book not garner that “word of mouth” momentum that could possibly inch sales up the dial rather than the expected attrition that all titles have now?

    Like you say – it’s not the character as much as the creator(s). We talk about Byrne’s FF, Simonson’s Thor, Ditko’s Spider-Man, Wolfman/Perez’s Teen Titans, Waid’s Flash, Kirby’s everything, and on and on and on.

    This lack of consideration on the part of these corporations is what allowed me to leave Marvel and DC behind, and I haven’t looked back for a while. Sure, I expect I’ll check out Waid’s Daredevil (there you go, it is Waid’s in my mind) through the library when it becomes available in trade, but really, I don’t expect to read much in the way of capes and tights unless I’m picking up some reprints of classic stuff from Kirby, Ditko, et al. That stuff still sings for me.

    chris


  15. […] Comics | David Brothers looks at the many changes in Marvel’s art teams and why that is not a good thing, even if both teams are superb on their own. [4thletter!] […]


  16. Well put. I could not agree more.

    The only reason that I read cape comics is to see what these characters mean to other people. Daredevil means something very different Mark Waid than it had to his predecessors. That is interesting.

    However, the difference between the comic and an essay that I can find on the Internet for free is the narrative. In comics, the narrative is primarily visual. It springs from the chemistry between the artist and the writer. No two people can ever have exactly the same chemistry.


  17. […] Avslutningsvis så tänkte jag tipsa om lite tänkvärd läsning angående Marvels ”double shipping” från amerikanska seriebloggen 4thletter!. […]


  18. I find these art changes infuriating. I find editors’ “hey, your still buying it!” answer for every complaint even more infuriating. Its like their playing chicken with their creative talent’s livelihood, and really pushing to see how much they can get away with before fans just get fed up.

    I’d really like to hear how a writer on one of these series, like Rick Remender or Mark Waid, feels about the whole system. Of course, we’ll probably have to wait until they stop working on those series before they could ever be that candid about it.


  19. Several misconceptions here…not least of which is Dan Coyle’s assumption that I’m anything less than beloved. What nonsense he speaks.

    Anyhoo…I can’t follow all the logic, I admit (it all seems to boils down to “I like some artists and not others” which is hardly new to 2012), but just to correct one glaring mistake that people like yourselves keep on making…

    Khoi’s first issue of Daredevil was 10.1, so he was already in the mix on the book. He did a good job, so–after discussing with Waid– I gave him a cool 3-part arc on the book. Samnee was originally going to come on after that arc (16, I think), but became available earlier, so I put him on issue 12 as well.

    Obviously several comic pundits would have done things differently and that’s fine. I’d rather have more Samnee than less.

    I know many are simply looking for targets to aim their alreay existing anger at, but I’d remind everyone pretending this is all happenining at the last minute that Previews come out three omnths before the books do. If you’re upset because these artists announcements are happening “without warning”, please remeber you’re “infuriated” about the warning.

    Back to your ongoing frustrations…

    -Wacker

    PS: I do love the idea above that Waid and Remender are too cowed to speak publicly about anything related to their books. I wish!

    PSS: Whoever used New Teen titans as an example doesn’t seem to know the early history of that book. There were fill-ins by issue 5…through no fault of George’s I’d imagine given his workload.


  20. ‘Between the double shipping of Marvel, the lackluster first arc finales of a lot of the Nu52 and all the legal and other things coming out of the start of this year they have made it incredibly easy for monthly single comics to wash my hands of the Big Two entirely. Image and Dark Horse put out enough quality titles to replace them and I am saving money which can go towards other interesting smaller books.

    I am kinda sad, but at the same point not really.’

    i didnt wanna just outright use the same post, but this sums up my current situation almost 100%


  21. @Dan Coyle: I don’t understand why I’ve had to tell you to lay off again and again for your grudges against Geoff Johns and Warren Ellis, but if you’ve got a grudge of any type against anybody who I happen to be writing about (or around), I’m the dictionary definition of not interested. Leave it out of my site, dude.

    @James W: I actually thought that Ramos and Bachalo had a nicely complementary style. Both are in a similar school of cartooniness and exaggerated proportions. I probably like Bachalo a bit better, but I thought Carey’s first year (that over-sized hardcover that includes Supernovas) was on point, before being derailed.

    @Brandon Montclare: Yeah, Hellblazer is a great example of when this works. Cammo & Landini create the real world (“real,” but you know what I mean), and when the Biz comes in, it’s always darker and scarier. That suicide story him and Milligan just did was pretty great for that reason. It’s a turn, a shift in mood. You make a lot of good points, and I hadn’t even thought of the strain on the writers.

    @Andrew: You should leave it out, too, just like Coyle.

    @stephen wacker: “people like yourselves” aside — seriously dude? — I don’t think you got what I was saying at all. It’s not “I don’t like Chris Samnee.” It’s “I like Chris Samnee, but Daredevil right now is Waid/Rivera/Martin and maybe Samnee doesn’t fit.” I like Kano. I think he’s wild underrated. The only artist I mention who I don’t enjoy is Billy Tan, so no, it is absolutely not “I like some artists and not others.”

    My point, boiled down, is that it’s frustrating to get into a book because of a specific take (whether it’s Waid/Rivera/Martin or Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely) and then have that take turn into someone else’s take because Marvel needs more issues to come out a year. That’s it. I’m not scare quotes infuriated scare quotes. I’m frustrated that I can’t even rely on books that I like to be consistent.

    But thanks for coming out with the condescension cannons fully loaded and ready to fire. I didn’t throw any ad hominems in the post, I didn’t throw in any angry rhetoric about how I’m going to quit comics forever, and I didn’t do anything but talk about how something is chasing me away from comics I like, and why I think that’s bad. I was civil, maybe moreso than I wanted to be, and this is what you come with?

    Heaven forbid I have some opinion about something I pay cash money for.


  22. David,

    Billy Tan hasn’t drawn Daredevil. so I’m not sure what that’s all about. It seems to be really affecting your opinions though. Billy did Shadowland back in 2010. Maybe that’s what you’re thinking of?

    Marcos Martin left the book after issue 6 for a creator owned book. I can’t stop publishing because of that. Sorry.

    Publication plans havent changed on the book (unless you know something i don’t…and wouldn’t that be funny!). We’ve planned to do double shipping a couple months a year since the get go, so what you;re seeing is me and therest of the team delivering what was promised. That used to be considered a good thing, but mileage varies I suppose.

    Again though, Khoi was already in the mix on the book and would have done his issues regardless of anything to build up time for Paolo and MArcos, so I’m not sure where your frustration comes from.

    Not sure why my post is read as condescending and “ready to fire” as oppsoed to what you wrote, but that double standard seems to be a common theme with internet commentors. No need to be so defensive. You’re just wrong and/or misguided on some things.

    Nice site, by the way.

    -SW


  23. @stephen wacker: You should really try reading an article before commenting on it. You’ll be shocked to see it isn’t a Daredevil review.


  24. @Jack: I was responding to the DD bits since it’s an extension of a conversation on that topic. Hope that’s okay.


  25. @stephen wacker: Thanks for confirming you didn’t read the post before commenting, I guess? Here’s what I said about Tan:

    Uncanny X-Force is a dumb idea on paper. It’s the team of X-Men that go out and murder people at night. But it came roaring out of the gates with Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, and Dean White firing on all cylinders, including cylinders I didn’t even know Marvel had. That team made that series. By issue eight, Billy Tan was drawing the book, the quality took a nosedive, the magic was broken, and I bailed out. Why was Tan drawing it? Because Marvel shipped six issues of the series between the cover dates of May 2011 and July 2011, tossed out another two in October, and will consistently double-ship the book from February to April.

    He’s the only one I came even remotely close to insulting, and it happens when I say the quality took a nosedive.

    I never said that you should stop publishing Daredevil. I like Daredevil–why would I want it to end? My entire post is about consistency.

    You don’t see where you’re being condescending and I’m not? Where am I being condescending in my post? This is overwhelmingly positive–“I want to like these comics, and I do like them for these reasons, but there are some things stopping me.”

    “Nice site by the way.” “No need to be so defensive.” “Not sure why my post is read as condescending.” “I know many are simply looking for targets to aim their alreay existing anger at”

    C’mon.


  26. @stephen wacker: Billy Tan did, however, draw Uncanny X-Force. Which, you know, is what David actually said in the article. So @Jack‘s point still kind of stands, in the sense that you’re responding to something other than a Daredevil bit as if it were one.


  27. @stephen wacker: You’d understand where Billy Tan came into the conversation if you’d read the whole thing, but sure, selective reading/skimming is okay. Have at it.

    I’m hoping you’ve gotten by now this isn’t about the warnings and how readers aren’t finding out about changes fast enough, or about the specific changes made in the creative teams, it’s about how the changes in general shouldn’t be happening as frequently or jarringly as they are. This kind of nonsense would be completely unacceptable in any medium but comics, and will likely be the death of tanything it occurs in. In the long run.


  28. “PSS: Whoever used New Teen titans as an example doesn’t seem to know the early history of that book. There were fill-ins by issue 5…through no fault of George’s I’d imagine given his workload.”

    George Perez drew New Teen Titans 1-4, 6-34, 36-47, half of 48 and 49, and issue 50. He also drew Annuals 1 and 3, and part of the second annual, as well as almost all of the Tales of the New Titans mini-series and the first five issues of the Titan relaunch before leaving the book.

    So out of sixty-three Titans book during “his” run, he drew everything save for four issues and part of three others. The fill-in issues were by Curt Swan, Keith Pollard, Carmine Infantino, Steve Rude, Brett Breeding and Ed Hannigan.

    All arguments of subjective quality aside, that’s a remarkably consistent run, and the artists who did fill-ins (aside from I suppose Rude and Infantino) fit stylistically into the “George Perez” mold. As much as I love Bill Sienkiewicz and Art Adams and Brett Blevins and Joe Kubert, all of them would have been weird and jarring tone shifts had they just plopped in for part 2 of the Judas Contract.

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that artists (or writers) need to be forced to do nothing but 60+ straight issues of a book for entitled fans, but especially when things start doubleshipping and art teams switch up mid-story, it seems like conditions are being set up to make consistency impossible and creators seem interchangable.

    Marvel (and you personally, Stephen) have done a great job juggling scheduling and art concerns before on books like New Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Thunderbolts and others. We know it can be done, and while I appreciate it takes a lot or work and coordination, it’s something worth striving for. It’s dispiriting to see this written off as something over-entitled fans are bitching about just to be enraged for no reason.


  29. @Chris Eckert: My point is that he had fill-ins on that book long before any of that other stuff.

    But yes, it’s an amazing consistent run that you’re looking at with the benefit of hindsight. It’s my favorite super hero comic ever.

    No one here would have been anything less than pissy about a Curt Swan fill-in in issue 5 of the new launch, though.

    As always though I love when internet pundits lecture me on scheduling comics. I really have a lot about that to learn, don’t I?

    SW


  30. Oops. That last bit was meant for another post. sorry about that. We’re cool.

    SW


  31. @Jack: Nonsense. It’s accepted in EVERY medium….particualrly one that uses so many freelancers.

    What you’re seeing is the result of actually scheduling things correctly. the fact that you;re hearing about it at the solict stage is ultimately the whole ballgame. It’s the way things are suppsoed to go.

    But, i know I know. Marvel=BAD!! ERRGH!!!

    SW


  32. @david brothers: “Nice site” is now an insult.

    You’re playing a different game than me, that’s for sure.

    SW


  33. Nice site. Shame if something happened to it.


  34. @Matt: Ha! yes my plan is to shut down the interet if you all don’t shape up! I can do it, too!

    SW


  35. I’m pretty sure the Fifth Issue of Ultimate Comics Ultimates #5 had no warning about the fill-in arist, just listing Essad Ribic who only drew five page, I believe. The preview on comic book resources didn’t even show the recap page that showed Brandon Peterson would be drawing most of the issue.


  36. @stephen wacker: Stop putting words in other people’s mouths, it’s impossibly bad form. I didn’t say Marvel Bad but if this is how you guys choose to present yourselves you might have convinced me of it.

    TV series don’t switch the entire creative team/staff/performers on a weekly basis, movies don’t switch over completely and multiple times midway through shooting, novelists don’t switch projects with eachother halfway through, and if it DOES happen in any of these it’s an exception and nowhere near as bad or as frequent as it is in comics.

    And I already told you it’s not about when people find out, but selective reading makes it really easy for someone to repeatedly make themselves look repetitive and foolish.

    And come on dude, you know how “Nice site” can be read in that underhanded 80’s bully tone. All that was missing was the “NOT!” Let’s all keep playing nice.


  37. @SW
    “We’ve planned to do double shipping a couple months a year since the get go, so what you;re seeing is me and therest of the team delivering what was promised. That used to be considered a good thing, but mileage varies I suppose.”

    When and where was that promised? All I remember of the book being launched was “Daredevil by Waid, Rivera and Martin.” That’s what I was interested in. I don’t recall a 12+ issue per year shipping schedule as part of any announcement. Nor are the crossovers. When the team changes after a few issues it is understandable that readers would wonder why there are so many issues if the initial team isn’t doing them.

    “Again though, Khoi was already in the mix on the book and would have done his issues regardless of anything to build up time for Paolo and MArcos, so I’m not sure where your frustration comes from.”

    When and where was Khoi mentioned as being part of the book? Or was it internal knowledge that was only announced in the solicitations and which sparked curiosity about the direction of the book?

    It’s understandable that if Martin moves on to a new project he will need to be replaced on the rotation. But the way artists are named in the solicitations for issues at a time make it appear that there isn’t a rotation schedule in plan anymore.

    All we want is consistency in the book. Frustration if you want to call that comes when it appears that a decision was made to squeeze 16 issues plus crossovers out of Daredevil a year without regard to the consistency of those issues.


  38. Jack, I can’t be responsible for the irrational tone some may read my posts with. Ultimately, that’s on you, not me.

    To your TV analogy, we haven’t chnaged “entire creative teams” on any of the projects being discussed This is aside from the fact that comparing the business of TV to comics is pointless. For one thing, comic creators are –for the most part–freelance. Actors on a network show are not. That’s no small potatoes. (This is putting aside the fact that writers chnage on regular shows almost weekly without the comparable uproar.)

    But TV and comics are VERY different models, so it’s a pointless exercise to begin with.

    Again, what people seem to getting upset about here is the act of scheduling….that some are claiming isn’t happening in the first place.

    SW

    PS:”Bully tone”…ha! okay that was funny. Can you imagine!? Anyway, My apologies to whomever I insulted with my compliment of the site.


  39. @Adam Farrar: Not sure who you speak for Adam when you say “all we want”. The “we” of the internet acts as if we’re throwing comics comics at them instead of just publishing them for your entertainment needs. So I’m not too worried abot the “We” you represent. They’ll be mad anyway.

    I promised Marvel 14-15 issues a year. I answer to them, not to you.

    Khoi was the artist on 10.1, so he was in the mix. Once I saw how good he did, I asked him to stick around for a few more issues. Beyond that, I don’t run each day’s creative decisions by the internet. Sorry. I have a decent track record,s o I think I’m on okay footing. Certainly hope you like ‘em.

    This is all pretty standard stuff, but I love how people are acting as if this is all just unbelievable! I mean, Ihe nerve of Marvel planning their publication schedule and telling people 3 months ahead of time! My stars!

    SW


  40. “the act of scheduling”

    Wacky, David’s main post was about how Marvel’s double/triple-shipping is causing the publisher to inadvertently raise the writers to a higher position than the artists, in a medium where all of the creators are equally important. It pushes the idea that “anyone” could be penciling the book each month, but so long as the writer stays the same, the book will be part of a larger whole. As far as I know, only Dan Slott and Matt Fraction (on Defenders) utilize the Marvel Method (I might be wrong!), but if this is true, it implies that a lot of scripts/stories are being hammered out before the writer even knows who is penciling the book. I know that you face a lot of vitriol from fanboys online, but you’re going on a tangent against the commenters, rather than responding to the post itself.


  41. @stephen wacker: Haha okay fair enough on the bully thing. I’m a bit saddened that you don’t seem to be able to understand why the changes themselves, not the scheduling or annoucements, are making your books less desirable, but we’ll see down the line if it’s a practice that will continue to keep the company alive or if it just hastens its demise.


  42. @stephen wacker: “Again, what people seem to getting upset about here is the act of scheduling….that some are claiming isn’t happening in the first place.”

    To me, it seems what people are commenting on is Marvel’s insistence on producing more issues of titles than the creative teams that made those titles popular in the first place are capable of making, because — even under the best of circumstances — it ends up compromising the esthetical integrity of the work. (If you want to stick with the media comparisons, imagine Ridley Scott outsourcing random scenes of ALIEN to Hitchcock, Kubrick or Spielberg. I hope you agree that this wouldn’t have been ideal or fair to the talents of either of those gentlemen, regardless of the fact that they all happen to be great directors.)

    Maybe you’re not aware of this, but the message Marvel is sending with DAREDEVIL, X-FORCE and other popular titles is that Marvel doesn’t care who’s working on these books, as long as they can publish more issues(not to mention total clusterfucks like the relaunched UNCANNY X-MEN). You can’t honestly be surprised that your readers respond negatively to that.

    “I promised Marvel 14-15 issues a year. I answer to them, not to you.”

    Then why not say so right away? ‘I answer to Marvel and Marvel wants to publish 14-15 issues a year, so, as desirable as this would have been, it can’t all be Waid and Rivera.’

    Instead of, you know, refusing to acknowledge the issue and insulting David by suggesting he’s just looking for random things to get angry or frustrated with. It doesn’t seem so hard to me.


  43. @Jack: There are people in this conversation who ARE upset about the scheduleing and the announcemnts, so those responses are for them. If that’s not you, that’s fine, but this’d be easier for many of you if you’d stop trying to tell me exactly what everyone else really means.

    Anyway, I understand you what what you want, but what Marvel is doing isn’t any different that the way things were run 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 years ago.

    Some of you have rose-colored glasses about the past, but Marvel can’t help that.

    We’ll keep making comics and the sales will tell us whether or not people like ‘em. That’s the foundation we’re built on.

    Hope ya do. If not, we’ll try something else.

    SW


  44. Marc-Oliver Frisch said; “Maybe you’re not aware of this, but the message Marvel is sending with DAREDEVIL, X-FORCE and other popular titles is that Marvel doesn’t care who’s working on these books, as long as they can publish more issues”

    That may be the message you hear (and it may coincidentally match up with what you already believe), but that is not the message we are sending with Daredevil. Again, I can’t be responsible for your baggage.

    The idea that it would magically prove Marvel “cared” about Daredevil if we only published the 7-8 issues per year that Paolo Rivera (just as a f’rinstance) could draw is silly given the history of mainstream super hero comics.

    Marvel cares about Daredevil plenty. And the creative team was well aware of the plan on the book, though some of you seem to believe otherwise.

    I can’t speak for X-Force, but you’re probably right that they don’t care about readers. Those guy seem like jerks!

    SW


  45. Great post! I fully agree. I’ve only recently started reading superhero comics, but I come from decades of following “indie” titles, often written and drawn by one person, consistently, for years. I know WHY DC/Marvel comics switch creative teams and have fill ins, but I still don’t like it. It’s a little depressing when a title I really like switches teams and suddenly…it’s not the title I really like anymore, it’s just something that shares the same name and characters.


  46. @SW,
    I don’t consider myself an internet pundit, critic or vocal fanboy. Just a reader. I was thinking of a “we” in a grand and noble “readers everywhere,” but if you’d rather just replace my “we” with “I” feel free.

    Getting back on point, you said Marvel is “publishing them for your entertainment needs” but you’re not. You’re publishing them for my entertainment dollars. So if you committed to 14-15 issues a year for Marvel, and Marvel wants me to buy them, I hope they’re great. They have been and I hope they stay that way. I hope Waid is consistently teamed with artists who bring out the best in the book. Like how Martin turned Waid’s issue one violin scene from being set in a city park to set in a subway (http://pulllist.comixology.com/articles/482/Why-Daredevil-Talks-Like-That-An-Interview-with-Mark-Waid). That is what I want.

    And coincidentally I am a Disney shareholder, so I also want high selling uses of existing IPs. Preferably through good comics.


  47. @stephen wacker: “The idea that it would magically prove Marvel “cared” about Daredevil if we only published the 7-8 issues per year that Paolo Rivera (just as a f’rinstance) could draw is silly given the history of mainstream super hero comics.”

    Which history of mainstream superhero comics do you mean?

    People creating strips in sweat-shop studios for small change and no credit? Publishers randomly fudging in reprint issues when the new material wasn’t ready? Jim Shooter decreeing that books be on time, no matter how many guys had to pitch in over night?

    On the other end of the spectrum, Marvel accepted delays on THE ULTIMATES and CIVIL WAR not too long ago, because it was recognized that fill-in creators would hurt the long-term sales potential of those titles — and once it was all collected, nobody would care about a few months in-between issues, anyway.

    CIVIL WAR is still one of Marvel’s best-selling books, by the way.

    And, you know what, I really do think it would prove Marvel cares about DAREDEVIL if they only did however many issues of the book Paolo Rivera was able to produce — even “magically” so. You got me there.

    How very silly of me.


  48. @Marc-Oliver Frisch: I agree with this so much it hurts.


  49. They only used to do like 8 issues of X-Men a year back in the day. And that was at 17 pages.

    I guess the monthly comics thing is related to the stores or whatever but it seems like everyone would be a lot better off if they switched to the Hellboy method of contained arcs.

    Then you have another arc start as the other one ends. Little packets of *consistent* comic quality. It would be easier to sell to people. You could make them digest sized. The whole kit and kabootle.


  50. Good god.

    I cannot wait for mainstream comics to finally die.


  51. […] Brothers has a very excellent post about how the notion of the stable creative team has gone out the window at Marvel with their […]


  52. […] can see him in this post, which was about why double-shipping as Marvel has implemented it devalues the artist and hurts the […]


  53. Stephen Wacker comes across in his comments as extremely defensive and either a bit disingenuous or genuinely tone-deaf to the conversation (I’ll be generous and assume the latter). Not to mention rude. I think the hubris Wacker exhibits on social media is a large part of Marvel’s recent problems: lack of respect for the consumer and a “take it or leave it” attitude. People like Wacker see people like “us” as disgruntled and unfulfilled internet trolls, who apparently have underlying issues (i.e., “baggage”), rather than sincere people who care enough about comics to voice an opinion amongst like-minded souls here in the bosom of this website.

    Unfortunately, Wacker misinterprets the article as one of preferring certain artists over others. He than proceeds to misinterpret the conversation as one concerning scheduling. I read the article and had no problems understanding the nature of what was being conveyed. That is, that Marvel editorial seems less concerned with artistic consistency and cohesion than cranking out books so as to be profitable. The point being conveyed is that the artistic inconsistency and incompatibility between assigned artists on a given book affects the quality of the book, which ultimately will negatively affect sales.

    No one is trying to tell Wacker how to do his job or solicit advice. I’m certain that Wacker wants Daredevil and Marvel to be successful and sell lots of comics. I’m sure he loves his job and wants to keep it. I’m sure it beats standing in the unemployment line.

    Anyhow, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it, is Wacker’s advice. (“We’ll keep making comics and the sales will tell us whether or not people like ‘em. That’s the foundation we’re built on.”) That is about the only thing he said here that made any sense.

    I agree with his sound advice and I have taken it to heart. For instance, I dropped Uncanny X-Force. I’m not interested in that book without Opena, as the change in artists is too dissimilar and consequently jarring. It feels like a totally different book. One that I’m just not interested in. I dropped the Ultimates for the same reason. I enjoyed Essad Ribic’s art, but the new artist took me out of the story and I lost interest. I also dropped Fantastic Four and FF, which are in the midst of a crossover. While I like Juan Bobillo’s art, it didn’t compliment Guice’s, Kitson’s and Epting’s more realistic style of art on Fantastic Four. Actually, Bobillo would be awesome on FF (which is essentially a kid’s book) if it was it’s own book and didn’t crossover into the Fantastic Four storyline.

    The bottom line is that the only thing that Wacker and Marvel seem to understand and appreciate is “the bottom line”, i.e., sales. That is reasonable enough, given that Marvel is after all, a business, which needs to maintain it’s profitability.

    I would strongly urge everyone to take Wacker’s advice. If you are displeased with the art team or direction a particular book is taking, stop buying it. Only then will they get the message. And who needs the aggravation anyhow?


  54. Boy, did I miss it! You can blame the “Billy Tan on Daredevil” bit on me (well, me and Stephen Whacker’s “skim-read and shoot from the hip” comment-style) – I was sure I’d seen him listed as the artist on 10.1, but apparently I just conflate him and Khoi Pham. Probably because they both acted as combo-breaker for a Bendis Avengers book’s good art streak.


  55. @david brothers: Oh, yeah, I agree re: Ramos & Bachalo on paper – both stylised with a Japanese influence, and it probably worked just fine switching off issues. Just in #200 – any time the story left the “Cable running around looking awesome” thread, my eyes rolled out of my skull. Bachalo just better.


  56. Maybe Dadedevil would have a consistant art team if editors/creators like Steven Walker didn’t waste their time on internet sites trying to defend Marvel everytime a fan has a concern with the company…. Just sayin’……


  57. […] | Tom Spurgeon responds to an article we linked to Monday by David Brothers that drew a correlation between constant changes in Marvel’s art teams and their twice-a-month […]


  58. The problem with Wacker’s “we judge everything by sales” approach is that 1) sales are reported by what stores order, not what stores actually sell, and 2) most dedicated comics readers have a pull list. My practice is that I’ll keep a title on my list (say Daredevil) and if it has a fill-in artist I’ll flip through at the store and decide if I want it, I’ll put it back on the shelf. Maybe stores account for this, but I doubt it would seriously affect future orders. Thus, sales look consistent, but actually aren’t.

    I guess Steve would have us go through Previews each month, scan for an listed guest artists (some of whom we may have heard of, so we have to look for samples of their work on the Internet) and then call our shop to tell them not to order that specific issue. That seems like a lot of work to try to send a message that probably won’t get heard.


  59. Sorry for the bad editing. Here’s what I meant to say:

    The problem with Wacker’s “we judge everything by sales” approach is that 1) sales are reported by what stores order, not what stores actually sell, and 2) most dedicated comics readers have a pull list that gets them every issue of a title no matter what.

    My practice is that if a title has a fill-in artist I’ll flip through at the store and decide if I want it or not. If I don’t I’ll put it back on the shelf. Maybe stores account for this when it’s all said and done, but I doubt it would seriously affect their future orders. Thus, sales look consistent, but actually aren’t.

    I guess Steve would have us go through Previews each month, scan for an listed guest artists (some of whom we may not have heard of, so we have to look for samples of their work on the Internet) and then call our shop to tell them not to order that specific issue. That seems like a lot of work to try to send a message that probably won’t get heard.


  60. @Robert G: Very well spoken (and I’ve taken the advice about speaking with my wallet some time ago). I’ve mostly been frustrated by the cavalier way Marvel’s editorial and creative staff respond to even legitimate criticism of their practices, which they do probably because time and again readers are willing to take such treatment just so long as they get their comics.

    Also, @david brothers: My apologies for my first comment in this thread. It was more knee-jerk than the article deserved.


  61. Here… Angry Fan with a name.

    I guess Mister Wacker left the building, but just in case. I’m from Chile, I just ordered the 1st HC of Daredevil from thebookdepository.com, based on the rave reviews that many people wrote about the book.

    I checked previews published everywhere to see the art, those very detailed sonar-like forms created to give the book its own identity and I was blown away by it, I thought it was very clever, very atractive work. I’ll be as clear as I can… I don’t care about Khoi Pham artwork, I won’t insult him, because he is probably a good guy and all that, but I don’t like his work. Rivera’s a Martin’s artwork sold me on the book, so much so, that I ordered it halfway across the world. That’s how much we, the fans, love Marvel.

    I have a blog and I review comics. Every now and then, even though my blog doesn’t get many visitors, some of the people involved in their creation read the reviews and comment on the blog, or even retwit some of our articles (my friend Alberto and I). It seems that sometimes people react positively to a praise but can’t handle criticism.

    If you think that David is wrong and that he is just an angry troll looking for reasons to complain, I would advise you to ignore his posts. I certainly think that Trolls don’t write as thoughtfully as him.

    When it comes to Marvel’s policies about double shipping. Why do you say that it has been done before or that we are angry about something that should be considered a good thing? I don’t understand. If we, the fans, are commenting on it, it’s because its calling our attention, it is not an old phenomenon, it’s a new thing.

    I’ve been reading comics, aware of how they are published in the US, for some years now. Maybe since 2002 or so. Previously I would only buy whatever was available in spanish and in Chile (which are two different things, since not everything published in Mexico and Spain gets over here, and they don’t publish everything Marvel or DC publishes). Let me say that Marvel has been double shipping issues every so often for a few years, primarily in the summer, but since last summer, you have changed that policy, and you are now double-shipping all the year, not all the books, that would be insane, but you are putting out more product.

    I can only guess why. I imagine the logic is that since people follow a tittle they might skip a miniseries, but they will probably stick with any given tittle if it is double shipped, they’ll spend more money just to keep up, even though they might not have wanted to spend extra 4 dollars on comics that given Month…. that was a minor setback. But the poor guy that follows 20 Marvel books a month, might find himself feeling forced to buy 30 comic books because that month, Marvel decided to double ship half of his regular comics.

    What’s gonna give?

    How long is that person going to spend extra 50% of his comicbook budget, before he/she decides to drop a book or two, especially if you are making that decision easy, by changing creative teams, putting out “.1″ issues done by a different writer/artist team. Sure, Daredevil gets written by Waid every issue, but IMHO, I won’t be spending Cover price+shipping on the second HC of Daredevil if the artwork is not as compelling as it its in the first volume (I’m trusting other people’s opinion on this). Maybe it doesn’t matter my opinion, maybe I’m just a rare case of a guy who buys book from far away, but maybe not… and maybe it doesn’t even matter because maybe, just maybe (and you have all the comments written by all those angry well-spoken trolls here, as a proof) it is something that bothers more people than just me, and maybe Marvel should consider it, because it may hurt sales longterm-wise.

    Didn’t Daredevil get a second priting for the first issue because of the word of mouth and the rave reviews?

    Let’s see how many second printings you get from now on…


  62. @stephen wacker: This Steve Wacker guy is a clown. He hates his life and tries to take out his anger on message boards. Sad really.


  63. Wow Wacker comes off BAD in his comments. Just awful. He’d really be doing himself and Marvel a huge favor by not commenting. The article and the vast majority of the commenters expressed their opinion on the extreme extra issue production clearly and politely. If I still bought any Marvel books, the above points on the shipping and then Wacker’s belligerent and laughingly selectively blind rebuttals would definitely be having me consider otherwise.


  64. Yeah.

    I generally enjoy Wacker’s comments here and there over the net, but I think it might be time he reined himself in a bit now.


  65. “That may be the message you hear (and it may coincidentally match up with what you already believe), but that is not the message we are sending with Daredevil. Again, I can’t be responsible for your baggage.”

    Steve, in all his defensiveness, seems to think people are accusing him of evil intentions, when everyone has stated clearly they’re talking about what messages these scheduling decisions are sending, regardless of intentions. And regardless of intentions, it’s worth it for those being criticized to consider if these perceived intentions are worth addressing and rectifying.

    For example, Steve Wacker may be a really swell guys, but he comes off like a complete dick in these comments. Perhaps he’s actually not a dick at all, and didn’t intend to come across that way, but if I were him, I’d really take the time to think about why people feel he comes across like a dick.


  66. […] Posted by Rich Johnston David Brothers had a lot to say about this;I buy cape comics because I like seeing what a small, dedicated team can do with these old […]


  67. […] to do this on more and more titles. One of the unfortunate side-effects is that the art suffers. David Brothers did a great piece on this, which unfortunately earned the ire of a certain Marvel […]