Comics Creators

DC-Marvel: Delayed Issue vs Fill-in Issue


I’m not sure this merits being a separate thread but couldn’t see a good one to sling it into either - still, the Mods can merge threads so…

I think MW might have a refreshingly different perspective on this so let’s see what happens.

Stumbled on these comments by Jimmy Palmiotti on why there can be changes to who works on a specific issue of a monthly Big Two book:

What happens here is life gets in the way. An artist is hired to do a job, a writer to do an issue and someone in their family gets sick, a flood, a natural disaster, a son or daughter in trouble,a water heater explodes, an accident happens, a parent with special needs, depression, stress, injuries, and personal problems, a late script kills the time an artist had to draw, and so on. What a lot of people do not consider is this is a time consuming job, and things happen in life that throw a monkey wrench into the mix all the time, and with this, we hire other people to help and bring in new people that might not normally get a job like this and they soon become the stars of tomorrow. Not one creator wants to be late or lose a gig, but its been happening since the beginning of time to anyone considered an artist where a certain skill in involved.

All it takes is one artist being super late for the above reasons and them having to call in a crew to get the job done so the book does not ship late and is returnable. The good news is some of the fill in crew are amazing artists. In the end you vote with your $$, but I like to open the book and look inside. Thats the way it works for me.

I’ve seen the sentiment that Palmiotti is opposing here on the net for years: That so-and-so is a lazy bastard for not meeting an issue deadline, or that it never happened in the old days (counter-point: It did and with far less warning).

My objection to it remains simple: To believe this requires you to believe the worst of those people whose work you profess to love. So much so you shell out a stack of money every month.

The case here at MW would be Ultimates 2, that took forever, but every time an issue came out? It looked and read so good no one kept caring about the delays, the issue bled quality! Now the current case is Secret Wars concluding Feb 2016. Disaster! Oh, the humanity! But if it means you get great imagery from Ribic, is really that big a deal?

Yet, does that mean there should never be fill-in issues? With the effect that writers and artists might be denied opportunities to try their hand on a title they wouldn’t get the chance to any other way? Which in turn exposes the buyer to new talent they hadn’t previously heard of? Every one has had to start somewhere.


DC just went the opposite direction last week with Justice League of America #5. I understand that the issue is quite late but it also seems a bit odd as the series was seemingly created to showcase Bryan Hitch leaving the regular Justice League to continue as it was.

I think fill-in books leave retailers vulnerable if they do not have foreknowledge and the opportunity to adjust orders. It could possibly lead to a lot of unsold stock of something someone didn’t want. With very few exceptions, I would prefer the wait to a fill-in especially if the book is being sold on the virtue of the creators involved.


The interesting thing is also the long term view.

The Ultimates still sells strongly in collections, so does Civil War that was equally run late like Secret Wars and caused issues at the time that are now forgotten. Nobody much now recalls that Watchmen was a delayed book that missed its deadline a lot in the latter half.

Marvel have clearly decided with Secret Wars they’d rather have Ribic get out his best stuff and they’ll work around the delays. That’s bad short term and has caused confusion but the question is whether it will be better regarded in a few years time than say Final Crisis where we got fill in art. The comics market is no longer just about this week.


Another interesting angle is that the delays are sometimes intentional - or, at the very least, companies don’t always put books out as quickly as they could.

I remember when there was a lot of fuss about the final issue of Ultimates 2 being late, and everyone had laid the blame at Bryan Hitch’s feet, but he made it clear at the time that he had finished his work on the book quite a while back and Marvel were holding it back a further couple of months for their own reasons (I think the implication at the time was that Marvel had a quiet quarter coming up without a really ‘big’ book, so were holding back issue #13 to bump up sales for that quarter).

There is often more going on behind-the-scenes than we appreciate.


I’d rather fill in with Secret Wars.
The story isn’t bringing out the best in Ribic, and he has already started copying panels from his previous works.

So, fill-in artist.
Hickman already feels like he’s brought in a fill-in writer haha


Oh that’s a shame, good to know though.


I believe delays don’t matter if they’re only 6-8 weeks. They wouldn’t matter with Secret Wars except Marvels whole relaunch is built around it (which was a really really bad idea). Folks are willing to wait. When they’re 3-4 months or longer then you’re welcoming ill will and a fill in guy might be better. But in those circumstances a fill in story might also be needed.

Mostly though the professionals need to be professionals and bite off only what they can chew.


I think a fill in story is usually like a cracker jack prize.
Neat to have those around moreso than interrupted a story - unless circumstances say otherwise,


For longer delays, issuing an update as to what’s gone on can really cool things down.

I think Mark has used MW for that in the past, Kurt Busiek used the Astro City letter column to explain why things went off the rails years ago, I think a lot of people are positively receptive to that kind of communication.


It sucks that there’s gonna be a fill in on JLA, at least it’s from the Martian Manhunter team. The only thing that sucks is that the story will feel interrupted and I just read issue 4!


How long is the JLA fill-in running for?


Just an issue, but I’ll gladly buy it.
It’s Martian Manhunter plus Matt Kindt :smile: sucks it’s interrupting a story but the detail in Hitch’s work can be very large in scope!


Yeah, Kindt writes a great Martian Manhunter.
If he hadn’t cut back to work on his Mind MGMT series…I’d gladly like to see him write more of the character


One of the most infamous examples of unavoidable delays and the downside of fill-ins was the Chief’s third and final arc of THE AUTHORITY: “Brave New World”. The first issue (#22), drawn by regular series artist Frank Quitely, had a March 2001 cover date. IIRC, Quitely was annoyed by DC editorial interference and abruptly quit the book. In an effort to stay close to his distinctive style, Art Adams was retained to complete the remaining three issues, but due to Adams’ sloooooow pace, it was decided that a 4-issue fill-in arc by a completely different creative team would be inserted, before the rest of the BNW arc was released 10 months later. Issues 27 and 28 had cover dates of January and March 2002 with art by Adams, then the final issue (#29) came out in May 2002, with art by Gary Erskine whose style, while beautiful in its own way, was jarringly different from Quitely and Adams. A very disjointed, disconnected ending to a series that held so much promise up to the end.


Didn’t the Erskine issue come from the desire to rework parts of the story post 9/11?


I quite liked what Peyer and whoever was on art did with those four issues, they were handed a crap hand but did something quite good with it.

Hell, they actually made Chaplain Action, He-Man of the Cloth, work!


It was Dustin Nguyen wasn’t it?


That’s it, I think it was.


I’ve seen some of Mind MGMT, the art looks beautiful, I’ve been hearing nothing but good things about Martian Manhunter.


I have decided to cancel my JLA standing order for the moment as it is not clear when Bryan Hitch will be back. I do not buy many comics and mostly just follow artists. For some titles Marvel and Dc could maybe adopt the same operanding way as Mike Mignolia’s Hellboy.