File under “death, beaten to.”

§ October 17th, 2018 § Filed under publishing, question time § 16 Comments

Following up on the last post, where I answered Paul’s question about “longest publication gap” in a series, I feel like I may have confused the issue a bit. So let’s clarify:

THE PRODUCTION DELAY: what I think Paul was specifically referring to, where an ongoing series, which is intended to continue or complete, experiences a huge unintended delay between issues. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, with its years-long pause between issues, is my go-to example of this, though there are plenty of others (like Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do, or Camelot 3000, or anything in the Dark Knight Returns ongoing saga).

THE RETURN FROM THE GRAVE: where a series totally ends, and is not intended to continue at the time…but the title is later revived and continues the numbering. Seems like such a foreign idea now, where any given comic book series seems to have a new #1 every few months or so, but there was a time when the Golden Age Flash series would end at #104, and a few years later, after the introduction of the Silver Age Flash, said series would be resurrected beginning with issue #105. Those “Blackest Night” one-shots which purported to be, like, issue #48 of the canceled Power of the Shazam series and whatnot, would fit in here, as well as those new issues of long-canceled Marvel titles (like Power Pack #63). Ghost Rider #94 would probably fit here, too, since as far as anyone was concerned at the time, #93 was the end of that series, and it wasn’t like there was an editor impatiently waiting nine years for script pages to come in so they could wrap the title.

THE INTENDED SPORADIC RELEASE: where there are extended gaps between issues, but more from design than because of any particular delays in production. I’m pretty sure something like Zap Comix would go here, where it was just released as the participants came together to produce it. (Unless Zap was intended to be monthly, in which case hoo boy did they blow it.)

There are other permutations and variations, but I think those are the big divisions, there. The recent Miracleman reprints probably span a couple of these categories, and some of the longrunning Disney comics which nobody thought would go away for long but definitely stopped publishing at times ’til a new publisher put ’em out again. but I think I’ve created enough headaches splitting these funnybook hairs like this.

Separate from all that are the aborted series, where an issue or three came out and then never continued. I mean, sure, this happens all the time, but it’s relatively unusual from Marvel and DC. Daredevil: The Target is one fairly high profile series that got out one issue and then vanished, never to be seen again except when we dug out our unsold copies of that first issue to return them to the distributor for credit. Or something like Sonic Distruptors, which I liked, but stopped at 7 out of the intended 12 issue run.

But I think what we’re specifically talking about is the first category: the comic that did eventually complete in the format and numbering in which it was intended, just with excessive pauses/delays in the release schedule, and never officially intended to be over and done with. Like Ronin with a much delayed final issue.

That’s the spirit in which I took the question, and sorry if I confused the topic initially. You all had interesting (and some extreme) examples of extended gaps in comic series publication, mostly of the resurrected title kind, which would probably be an all new post just by itself! DON’T TEMPT ME

So, with all that in mind…what’s the record production delay in a comic that did eventually publish an issue after said delay? And again, not meaning a revived title that picks up the numbering, but rather has everyone involved going “holy crap, is this book late.” Excluding Ghost Rider #93/#94 for reasons noted above, would that Spider-Man/Black Cat mini, with 3 1/2 years between issues, be in the top spot?

16 Responses to “File under “death, beaten to.””

  • Robert Y. says:

    Issues 5 and 6 of Hickman and Weaver’s SHIELD just came out in May and June this year — issue 4 came out in December 2011, so that’s a six-and-a-half-year gap.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    I think the winner mght be Stray Bullets. It paused at #40 in 2005, leaving us wondering for nearly 9 years how Ginny was going to get out of a deadly jam. #41 finally appeared in 2014, and Lapham has been pretty consistent about keeping up with the new issues since then. In terms of a series with an ongoing story by the same creator that wasn’t intended to end when it suddenly did but then eventually continued, this is the longest gap, I think.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    “Ghost Rider #94 would probably fit here, too, since as far as anyone was concerned at the time, #93 was the end of that series, and it wasn’t like there was an editor impatiently waiting nine years for script pages to come in so they could wrap the title.”

    I love this vision of Tom Brevoort tapping his foot, every few hours calling, um, Ivan Velez Jr. “Is it ready yet?” “Not yet, still working on it! I’ll let you know!” “How about now? Surely this week?” “I don’t know, there a lot of plot complications here, Tom. Might be a while!”

  • Michael says:

    Wasn’t there a long gap between the captain America : white preview and actual mini series?

  • Roger Green says:

    I love this arcane stuff

  • BobH says:

    I think ROARIN’ RICK’S RARE BIT FIENDS might be a contender. Stopped with #21 in 1996, with the first half of the “Subtleman” story. Continued in 2016 in an expanded format, with the end of “Subtleman” and a whole lot more. 20 years. Same creator, same title, continued storyline, continued numbering. Technically same publisher, although a different imprint (Sun Comics instead of King Hell)

    It probably falls under one of the exceptions, but SUGAR & SPIKE #99 [1992] came out 21 years after #98, but is technically, for my filing at least, DC SILVER AGE CLASSICS SUGAR & SPIKE NO. 99 [1992].

    Annuals probably shouldn’t count, but when DC resumed annuals in the 1980s they kept the numbering for some of them, like BATMAN ANNUAL #8 [1982], 18 years after #7.

    Dark Horse took 17 years between #4 and #5 of USAGI YOJIMBO COLOR SPECIAL, but those aren’t numbered on the covers, just titled like one-shots and numbered inside, so probably fit some exception.

    SLOW DEATH gets a ZAP exception, but 13 years to #11.

    Sometimes numbered tradepaperback series take a while to continue. 9 years for SHOWCASE PRESENTS JONAH HEX #2 [2014].

    If you count the Flaming Carrot / Reid Fleming crossover as FLAMING CARROT COMICS #32 [2002] (again, numbered inside, not on the cover), that’s 8 years after #31.

  • BobH says:

    A few other recent ones that broke the 3 year mark not mentioned yet:

    PLANETARY, 36 months for the final issue

    THE TWELVE, 40 months for #9

    FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE, 47 months for the last issue, but understandable since Wrightson was sick and they had to get Kelley Jones to finish it after he passed away

    Nate Simpson’s NONPLAYER, 50 months to #2, and unless he gets it out soon, maybe even longer to #3.

  • BobH says:

    Sorry, thought of one more that might qualify, although the idiosyncratic numbering opens up all sorts of exceptions. Ditko’s Mr. A. had the following issues

    MR. A. [1973]
    MR. A. #2 [D. 4] [1975]
    MR. A. #15 [2014]
    MR. A. #18 [2016]
    MR. A. #21 [2017]
    MR. A. #24 [2017]
    STEVE DITKO’S MR. A. #7 [2018]

    So 39 years between the second and third issues. And the second issue even had a promo for the third issue, although that story (“Mr. A. vs. The Polluters”) isn’t what wound up in the eventual third issue, or any of the other ones.

    The SD Publishing numbering of TALES OF THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER, OUT OF THIS WORLD and MURDER, both as part of that MR. A. series of numbering and continuations of the Charlton and Renegade books, might also qualify, but figuring those out is a can of worms you do not want to open up…

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    I’m trying to make sense of the Snyder/Ditko nunbering, too. It’s kind of a lost cause. Sometimes I think there’s a serial involved, or two-parter, but little character development for the sustained series. The newer books tend to all tell the same story over and over, anyway. Not that they aren’t fun to look at, though.

    I think the question should be focused on serial comics published on an ongoing basis on some kind of routine schedule, though “routine” can be loosely defined to account for the difficulties of independent comics creation & publishing. Series that abruptly stopped when a next issue was solicited, or expected based on a “to be continued” or other info in the last published comic.

    Paul Pope’s original 6-issue THB stalled after #5. I never did find out if #6, or its conclusion, ever appeated.

    Kirby’s original New Gods series concluded with a new story in the early 80s reprint series. Seems like that counts for something even though it wasn’t New Gods #12.

  • Matthew says:

    @Michael

    THB #5 came out in March 1995
    THB #6a came out in June 2000 (followed by #6b, #6c, and #6d)

    (There are also a couple of issues in 2003 and 2007 that continue the story, but they’re not numbered in the same series.)

  • Paul Di Filippo says:

    Brilliant elucidation of categories in this topic, Mike. This is why you are known as “Super Taxonomist!”

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    @Matthew, thanks for the info! Now I’ve got something to look for.

  • googum says:

    Ken Steacy’s Tempus Fugitive had like a 15 month gap, I think between the second and third issues? Really loved that series, though.

  • Heslin says:

    I think Rob Schrab’s SCUD was intended to continue, but a bad break-up and the draw of Hollywood led to his disinterest killing the book off on a down-note in 1998. He released the last arc in 2008, presumably on a big bed of movie cash.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    To follow on Heslin’s comments, Rob Schrab and Dan Harmon never did release issue #10 of La Casa Nostroid.

    There’s also Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli’s The Puma Blues which stopped in its tracks in 1989 and got a final chapter in 2015.

  • BobH says:

    I didn’t realize that they continued SCUD with the same numbering. For some reason I thought they just released a collection with a new ending. That’s a good example.

    Man, if Ben Edlund ever tears himself away from Hollywoodland long enough to do THE TICK #13 that’ll make the chart for sure. 25 years and counting…

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