The Waiting Game
Written on Mon, Mar 28, 2011 by Kyle
A sure sign of a good comic (or any book or movie) is when the ending leaves you wanting more. Sadly this can be a major negative in the case of a book that is suddenly canceled or extremely delayed without explanation.
Depending on the length of delay this can have very little or severe effects. In cases such as ‘Y: The Last Man’ being a week or two late when coming out every month the effect was very small and had almost no impact on the reading experience. A more negative experience would be Joss Whedon’s arc on the ‘Runaways’ which seemed to be plagued with delays. When I picked up the trade (Runaways: Dead End Kids) a long time reader suggested I skip it but I still picked it up. It seemed on par with Brian K. Vaughn’s run and the same reader admitted the delays had seriously dampened his enjoyment.
A perfect example of my own issue with late issues comes in Kevin Smith’s ‘Spider Man: Black Cat’ mini series This series had more than a year between issues that left Peter Parker overdosing on heroine he’d been given forcibly in an alley. By the time I heard the rest of the series was due to come out I decided “What’s the point?” and never finished getting it or reading it when a friend purchased it, despite the fact that I enjoyed the first few issues.
On the other side of the spectrum for me is ‘Scud The Disposable Assassin. For those unfamiliar this series had 20 issues published by Fireman Press in the mid 90’s. The 20th issue end with the main character (Scud) accepting a contract from a pack of rogue angels to destroy earth. Shortly after that the writer (Rob Schrab) took a step back from writing comics and Fireman Press dissolved in creative disputes. There would be no movement with the ending of the story until TEN YEARS LATER when Image acquired the rights and gave it a four issue conclusion written by Schrab. The conclusion was crazy, satisfying and well received.
What made things acceptable for Scud was there was no control over the problems that caused the delay. The studio went under. The writer had to take other opportunities elsewhere. Most importantly, the cliffhanger could be perceived as a dark ending in itself. In an industry where everything is planned months or years ahead of time it seems ridiculous for those kinds of delays to keep happening.