Byrne on Ultimates issues lateness...

DIrishB

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John Byrne said:
" If his girlfriend's distress did, indeed, cause Brian Hitch to miss his deadlines, he has my most heartfelt sympathies. Even out in the "real world", where people work in offices and wear ties, things can happen in their personal lives that disrupt their work. This happens, curiously enough, because most people who work in offices out in the real world are not chasing deadlines. They are merely doing their daily routine, same thing every day, and if something disrupts that routine, a domino effect kicks in.

Now -- in November 1980 I moved from Calgary to Chicago, started work on my first issue of FF, got married, basically restarted my life from scratch with a new wife, new house, couple of instant kids, and a whole lot of running back and forth to various government offices to sign papers and talk to stern faced beurocrats about whether or not I was going to be allowed to stay in the US even tho I had married an American citizen. Altogether, over the months of November, December and January I probably lost about three weeks of work time.

Not one issue of FANTASTIC FOUR was late.

Why? Because I was ahead of schedule when I started, and I was still ahead of schedule when everything settled down.

This is what I mean about how dangerous it is to work to the actual deadlines, instead of creating your own that are in advance of what the office is asking for. So, not wishing to seem unsympathetic to Brian Hitch and his girlfriend, but where was he on deadlines before the problems set in?"

This simple fact does seem elusive to the very people to whom it should be most clear. I see eyes glaze over whenever I mention it. I hear conversations like. . .

"Your book is not as profitable as FONEBONEMAN SPECIAL."

"What do you mean? I produce 12 issues a year, and each one nets a profit of $10,000. That's $120,000!"

"Yes, but Sam Superstar did one issue of FONEBONEMAN SPECIAL and it made $200,000 in profit!"

"But wasn't Sam supposed to do 12 issues? So you could have made $2,400,000! Sounds to me like that's the book that wasn't profitable!"

"But you don't understand! From one issue of your book, we make $10,000. From one issue of Sam's we made $200,000!"

"But that's one-twelfth of what you could have made!"

"But it's 20 times what we make in one month from your book!"

"But that's only one month! In a year, I give you 12 issues!"

"But those 12 issues only add up to $120,000. That's $80,000 less than we made in one month!"

"But the other 11 months you made diddly! You didn't make over two million that you could have!"

"But we made 20 times in one month what we make from your book in one month!"

"But you could have made. . . . never mind."

(Frank Miller tells this story: At DarkHorse his SIN
CITY editor kept telling him what he called the "drop
dead" deadline -- the absolute, final, no loopholes,
can't get around it no matter what date for when
Frank could turn in his work and the book could still
be shipped on time. Frank responded that he didn't
want the "drop dead" deadline -- he wanted the "no
****ups" deadline -- when he could turn in the book
and be guaranteed it would go thru the office and
every single production job -- cleanup, paste up,
proofing, corrections, the works -- would get done
with no **** ups. In other words, a deadline
furthest from the shipping date, not closest to
it.)

Here's the link to this here, his posts start about half-way down the page and run to about 3/4 down:

http://www.byrnerobotics.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=8014&PN=1&TPN=3

Whats your viewpoint on this matter?
 

ProjectX2

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My viewpoint? Byrne's an arse.
 

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The difference that when Hitch is late, it's still worth it.

What a self-righteous prick.
 

DIrishB

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UltimateE said:
The difference that when Hitch is late, it's still worth it.

What a self-righteous prick.

I still think he makes a good point. I realize personal issues come up, thats fine, but this isn't the first time Hitch has been late. I mean, we pay for the entertainment they provide, which is a periodical, meaning its supposed to come out on a regular basis within a certain time frame. The Ultimates most certainly hasn't had a track record of doing so. I'm just saying, Marvel's execs/editors need to plan better with both their minis and monthly titles. Instead of releasing a mini only after the first issue is completed, why not allow the artist to finish the majority or the mini before releasing it? I assume it has to do with sales and figures, but honestly don't they realize a large portion of people drop continually late books? It can't be a good business practice to continually ship books late. I mean how many times were we told what happened with Volume 1 wouldn't happen with Volume 2? Again, I realize **** happens, thats why you act responsibly and plan ahead for these things by scheduling accordingly. Something Marvel doesn't believe in apparently. See Ultimate Secret's delays to see what I'm talking about. And now with Ultimates 2, its apparently going to take a little over a year and a half to release 12 issues. Thats about 4 or 5 months longer than it should have. And then we have Millar and Hitch saying the issues will be out on time, otherwise it'll ruin the flow and pacing of the arc. Well, apparently now just that is happening. I know Hitch's ultra-realistic styling takes more time than most artists, which is why I place the majority of the blame on the editors. Hitch couldn't have foreseen the complications that arose from his wife/girlfriend's pregnancy and the delays they would cause. But the editors, knowing his work pace and accounting for ANY possible delays, should have planned ahead accordingly. Not necessarily in the case of his baby's complications, but just in general. After all, having books completed early never hurt anyone. Having them continually ship late just pisses off fans and hurts sales overall. Doesn't make sense to me.
 

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While I understand the point of working to your own deadline rather than that of one imposed on you, that isn't always possible. Millar said that Hitch usually 'gives up' on a book rather than finishing it. He puts a lot of work in and it's the deadlines that actually stop it from being better.

Now, I'm not as good an illustrator as hitch, well, maybe i could be if i spend the time on it. But that time would not be one working month, it would be something more than that, significantly more. See, Hitch is a really good artist and being a really good artist also depends on the speed in which you get the job done. He's also an artist in great demand.

If he spent 3 weeks on a book rather than 4, he'd be giving up on it earlier and it wouldn't be on the same quality, but he could catch himself up. But at the expense of the artwork that he wants to produce. He is working flat out on the Ultimates to get them as good as he can.

Byrne then, he doesn't do this, he gives himself a bit of space, gets the job done early so that he can rest a little and have a bit of time before he has to worry about the next deadline, which will never come because he's always finished early.

Doesn't sound like he's a particularly busy man, or to have a particularly strong work ethic. He gets the job done early so that it isn't late, Hitch works on it until there is no more time because he wants it right.

The delays are annoying yeah, but going over a deadline is a very stressful thing, no illustrator enjoys it, but sometimes it's a necessary evil to get the job done. This is Hitch's career we're talking about too. He may be known as being late, but he is known even more for being one of the strongest illustrators working in comics today. The latter attribute far outweighs the former in my mind, and also in his I would imagine, artistically, and for his career.
 
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DIrishB

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Guijllons said:
While I understand the point of working to your own deadline rather than that of one imposed on you, that isn't always possible. Millar said that Hitch usually 'gives up' on a book rather than finishing it. He puts a lot of work in and it's the deadlines that actually stop it from being better.

Now, I'm not as good an illustrator as hitch, well, maybe i could be if i spend the time on it. But that time would not be one working month, it would be something more than that, significantly more. See, Hitch is a really good artist and being a really good artist also depends on the speed in which you get the job done. He's also an artist in great demand.

If he spent 3 weeks on a book rather than 4, he'd be giving up on it earlier and it wouldn't be on the same quality, but he could catch himself up. But at the expense of the artwork that he wants to produce. He is working flat out on the Ultimates to get them as good as he can.

Byrne then, he doesn't do this, he gives himself a bit of space, gets the job done early so that he can rest a little and have a bit of time before he has to worry about the next deadline, which will never come because he's always finished early.

Doesn't sound like he's a particularly busy man, or to have a particularly strong work ethic. He gets the job done early so that it isn't late, Hitch works on it until there is no more time because he wants it right.

The delays are annoying yeah, but going over a deadline is a very stressful thing, no illustrator enjoys it, but sometimes it's a necessary evil to get the job done. This is Hitch's career we're talking about too. He may be known as being late, but he is known even more for being one of the strongest illustrators working in comics today. The latter attribute far outweighs the former in my mind, and also in his I would imagine, artistically, and for his career.

I agree, but I still think a line needs to be drawn. Thats what I was saying about the editors planning accordingly. They know Hitch takes longer than most other artists for whatever reason, so why not hold off on releasing the series until 6-7 issues had been completed, instead of 3-4? Again, I assume it has something to do with sales and profit, but honestly something of the Ultimates caliber is going to sell no matter what, why associate the unprofessionalism of constant lateness with it? And Hitch himself, who should know his timetable better than anyone, should speak up and let people know when he'll be able to finish the issues. I'm just tired of getting empty promises from these people. Don't bull**** us and tell us the issues are going to be out on time if you know they're not. And again, I understand Hitch was having issues with his unborn baby and everything, so I can understand this, but does that really tack on an extra 5-6 months of delays overall? Maybe I'm being insensitive, and if so I apologize. The constant delays are just ridiculous though. Its not enough to make me give up the titles, but its surely enough to make me ***** incessantly. ;)
 

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May I rant about this topic a bit? Probably because I'm mostly a reader of novels, which are published entirely in one go, I find serial fiction to be puzzling and often frustrating. I've never picked up a novel that had chapters missing in the back because the author couldn't make the publishing deadline. Never. It would be like reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and finding blank pages for the last third of the book because Rowling couldn't get it done before it went to press. If comic book publishing is anything like news writing, then my Editing professor in Syracuse was right: you don't get paid to start a project, you get paid to finish it. If it's not done, it doesn't run.

(Back when I was doing newspaper editing myself, there were actually two deadlines on articles: the one I told the reporters and made them adhere to, and the REAL deadline, when the article absolutely, positively had to be handed in to be printed up and make the page, which was an hour or two later. So I understand exactly what Mr. Byrne is talking about.)

Launching a new series is a risk, and I can understand why entire series or arcs might not be complete when the first issue goes to press. However, with something like Ultimates 2, where Marvel knew they had a sure thing on their hands, I see no reason why ALL of the story and art couldn't have been done before on an arc it went to press. (And if timing is so crucial on the last four issues of Ultimates 2 that they're willing to hold up the series until all of them are ready, why doesn't Marvel release all four issues on the same day? That way there wouldn't be any delay in the fans' enjoyment. :wink: )

Guess it's a good thing I don't work in the comic book industry.
 

DIrishB

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Seldes Katne said:
May I rant about this topic a bit? Probably because I'm mostly a reader of novels, which are published entirely in one go, I find serial fiction to be puzzling and often frustrating. I've never picked up a novel that had chapters missing in the back because the author couldn't make the publishing deadline. Never. It would be like reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and finding blank pages for the last third of the book because Rowling couldn't get it done before it went to press. If comic book publishing is anything like news writing, then my Editing professor in Syracuse was right: you don't get paid to start a project, you get paid to finish it. If it's not done, it doesn't run.

(Back when I was doing newspaper editing myself, there were actually two deadlines on articles: the one I told the reporters and made them adhere to, and the REAL deadline, when the article absolutely, positively had to be handed in to be printed up and make the page, which was an hour or two later. So I understand exactly what Mr. Byrne is talking about.)

Launching a new series is a risk, and I can understand why entire series or arcs might not be complete when the first issue goes to press. However, with something like Ultimates 2, where Marvel knew they had a sure thing on their hands, I see no reason why ALL of the story and art couldn't have been done before on an arc it went to press. (And if timing is so crucial on the last four issues of Ultimates 2 that they're willing to hold up the series until all of them are ready, why doesn't Marvel release all four issues on the same day? That way there wouldn't be any delay in the fans' enjoyment. :wink: )

Guess it's a good thing I don't work in the comic book industry.

I can understand their reasoning in not releasing them all in one day, as I said a comic is a periodical form of entertainment. But everything else you said I totally agree with.
 

14rdb

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This is an solid interview for gaining some insight on Hitch and his lateness: http://www.silverbulletcomics.com/news/story.php?a=569

There is some interesting stuff in there. He claims that the excuses made for him by Joe Q and Millar about his work being so detailed that it takes extraordinary time to produce is BS, but he started to believe his own hype and then had trouble meeting this imaginary standard.

It sounds like his problems are mental blocks, not physically being a slow artist. Actually, he boasts about how quickly he can bang out pages.

Some people can turn on their artistic side at will and work like they're on an assembly line. The reason USM comes out so frequently is that Mark Bagley puts in 10 hour days, six days a week. Some artists just can find inspiration so readily.
 

big danny d

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I want to just add in my own two cents here. I am an architect and I know how stressful deadlines can be, and I also know that things can occur in real life to throw your scheudles out of whack. However I do not sympathize for a person who cannot meet a deadline, no matter what the excuse, especially for 5-6 more months. In my profession, if we are late for a deadline, there is a strong chance we may get fired(maybe not if we're a week or two late, but 5 months would definitely be a canning)

also, i don't sympathize because if we are late, its our asses on the line, law suits can and will occur if a project isnt finished on time. Im not asking for pity in what I do, but then again, I have no issue in making deadlines, and I know how it is to work endless hours on something, going over numbers, figures, drawings, making sure everything is correct so that people don't die due to a building failure. Bottom line is these people are drawing and writing, things people do for leisure, maybe if they can't produce on time they should not be in that profession to begin with. Remember, they were hired to do a job, the job is to do the best quality work in the time limit, not to take there time on it and wrap it up whenever, thats what retirement and hobbies are for.


as the saying goes, if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

and by someone saying "He's doing his best, so cut him slack" isnt good enough, if there getting paid to not do there job, fire them and hire someone else who will
 

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big danny d said:
I want to just add in my own two cents here. I am an architect and I know how stressful deadlines can be, and I also know that things can occur in real life to throw your scheudles out of whack. However I do not sympathize for a person who cannot meet a deadline, no matter what the excuse, especially for 5-6 more months. In my profession, if we are late for a deadline, there is a strong chance we may get fired(maybe not if we're a week or two late, but 5 months would definitely be a canning)

also, i don't sympathize because if we are late, its our asses on the line, law suits can and will occur if a project isnt finished on time. Im not asking for pity in what I do, but then again, I have no issue in making deadlines, and I know how it is to work endless hours on something, going over numbers, figures, drawings, making sure everything is correct so that people don't die due to a building failure. Bottom line is these people are drawing and writing, things people do for leisure, maybe if they can't produce on time they should not be in that profession to begin with. Remember, they were hired to do a job, the job is to do the best quality work in the time limit, not to take there time on it and wrap it up whenever, thats what retirement and hobbies are for.

I can't see the connection. Different circumstances, different people. Plainly put - and I mean absolutely no offense in this - is that Hitch is better at what he does than you are at what you do, and is therefore more in demand. He's lucky to be in a position to where deadlines don't mean the same to him as they do to you or I or anyone else.

If you want to put it in architecture terms...I don't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright as a person and how he handled deadlines, but I would guess that if someone wanted him for a job he could pretty much take as much time as he needed/wanted.

I don't like the delays any more than anyone else, but in the end it's all worth it. If he needs extra time, and he's in the position to demand it (even if he isn't "demanding" per se), more power to him.
 

Patriot Mk2

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Your typical Byrne interview-he makes good points but seems unable to get them across without sounding like a dick!
 

big danny d

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If you want to put it in architecture terms...I don't know much about Frank Lloyd Wright as a person and how he handled deadlines, but I would guess that if someone wanted him for a job he could pretty much take as much time as he needed/wanted.



could have, definitely, did he do it because he could? no, and maybe thats what im seeing here, if you can understand what i mean... then again people wouldnt hire flw without understanding what type of deadline he'd have
 
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compound

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Hitch's chronic lateness *is* unprofessional, no matter the reason. But, as others have pointed out, his talent arguably excuses (if not justifies) his frequent tardiness.

However, Byrne commenting on Hitch's scheduling problems seems like just another self-centered, attention-starved bid for reassurance from his usual cabal of yes-men and lap-dogs who frequent his website.

If Byrne's objective was to initiate a broader dialog about work ethics and punctuality in the comics infustry, well, I guess, he succeeded then. (This thread -- and no doubt many others like it at the other big comics message boards -- are proof of that.)

But somehow I have nagging suspicion that meaningful exchange was the last thing on the old fart's mind when he penned his vitriolic, self-glorifying little rant.
 

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big danny d said:
could have, definitely, did he do it because he could? no, and maybe thats what im seeing here, if you can understand what i mean...

I don't think Hitch does it just because he can. I've never seen anything of him that suggests he is anything but professional. I don't see him as a meglomaniac who screws up Marvel's scheduling just because he has the ability to.

compound said:
However, Byrne commenting on Hitch's scheduling problems seems like just another self-centered, attention-starved bid for reassurance from his usual cabal of yes-men and lap-dogs who frequent his website.

...But somehow I have nagging suspicion that meaningful exchange was the last thing on the old fart's mind when he penned his vitriolic, self-glorifying little rant.

Exactly.
 

Jaggyd

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Oh you people kill me. I feel the utmost sympathy for Mr Hitch. I just spent 3 weeks in the hospital for kidney failure, because of that, I lost the contract to doing a monthly book. Life is a cruel ***** and will hit you when you feel like you're on top. It's not Hitch's obligation to make the fans happy, if his girlfriend's pregnancy has complicated and prevented him from work, I'm impressed that he picked the correct choice of importance. Byrne is a dick, pure and simple, why would anyone be suprised.
 

ProjectX2

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skotti-chan said:
Oh you people kill me. I feel the utmost sympathy for Mr Hitch. I just spent 3 weeks in the hospital for kidney failure, because of that, I lost the contract to doing a monthly book. Life is a cruel ***** and will hit you when you feel like you're on top. It's not Hitch's obligation to make the fans happy, if his girlfriend's pregnancy has complicated and prevented him from work, I'm impressed that he picked the correct choice of importance. Byrne is a dick, pure and simple, why would anyone be suprised.

Exactly. Ultxon told me he edited his own wikipedia entry because the person who wrote it had "too many opinions"... :roll:
 

DIrishB

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skotti-chan said:
Oh you people kill me. I feel the utmost sympathy for Mr Hitch. I just spent 3 weeks in the hospital for kidney failure, because of that, I lost the contract to doing a monthly book. Life is a cruel ***** and will hit you when you feel like you're on top. It's not Hitch's obligation to make the fans happy, if his girlfriend's pregnancy has complicated and prevented him from work, I'm impressed that he picked the correct choice of importance. Byrne is a dick, pure and simple, why would anyone be suprised.

The difference is your books/projest are probably not late on a regular basis, while this is a regular occurrence for Hitch, pregnant girlfriend or not. We can all sympathize with life being a ***** and throwing curveballs, thats not the point. I'm talking about his lateness overall. And Hitch would have to be the unluckiest guy in the world for all his delays to be due to unfortunate circumstances. Your comparison isn't really fair on those points. And again, I'm blaming Marvel editorial more than Hitch himself, as it should be well known to them by now how long he takes to draw an issue. And it kind of is a part of Hitch's job to make the fans happy, perhaps not an obligation, but definitly part of the job and keeping it. Otherwise he wouldn't have a job and be able to put food on the table for his girlfriend and child. And why would you be surprised "he picked the correct choice of importance"? You'd have to be a total stone to not take time off from work or whatever to support your girlfriend/boyrfriend/wife/husband/significant other/etc through something like this. Your points are a bit oversimplified, sorry.

Sorry to hear about the kidney failure though, I hope everything turns out ok. I know with a serious issue such as that things can be scary, but you seem to be doing well and hope you get through ok.
 

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ProjectX2 said:
Exactly. Ultxon told me he edited his own wikipedia entry because the person who wrote it had "too many opinions"... :roll:

That's a facinating story.

Not only did he edit it, but when it was reverted because he effectively deleted most of the article, he and his cronies on his board caused such a fuss that the founder of Wikipedia stepped in and apparently locked the page. If you Google you can find comparisons of the "old" page and Byrne's version.

Byrne is one of the biggest pieces of **** I've ever heard of.
 

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