It seems like yesterday that BOOM! Studios announced that Someone Is Killing the Children #21 would come out in March, 2022, after the prior issue arrived in September of the previous year. When did comics taking breaks become popular, even acceptable?
IF IT IS WHAT THE CREATORS WANT, IT’S OKAY
The practice of buying comics each month has been what was called a “habitual” practice—fans used to trek to their local comics shop (LCS) on a regular, often weekly, basis to pick up the latest releases of their favorite books.
It used to be similar to that old Janet Jackson song, “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” If we didn’t see a comic come out in a month, maybe two, fans would move on to other books.
It took a special kind of comic for fans to hang on until the final issue came out. I love to tell the story about Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller. The first one came out right on schedule. The second one came out a month later. The third one arrived six months after that. Then the fourth and final issue arrived a year later. I literally thought it would never come out in my lifetime! I watched and waited for that final issue, asking on a such a regular basis about it that my local shop owner would see me come in the door and say, “It’s not out yet!” We both knew what we were talking about. It was kind of sad when it did arrive—it was the end of an era for us!
The first comic that took breaks (time off from a regular schedule) that I recall was Saga from Image Comics. It didn’t take long before many other books followed suit, allowing them to either take needed time off to refresh their creative juices or to catch up on a schedule that they had fallen behind on.
Since then, I honestly can’t say I know for sure what a comic’s schedule is any longer. I ask the owner of my LCS, and she often has to tell me, “Well, they’re taking a break.” And she often can’t tell me how long or when it’ll be back.
That’s what happened with SIKTC, as some fans like to call it. Granted, James Tynion IV has been going through a transition of sorts (which I’ve delved into in a previous column), but many fans literally thought the book had ended back in September.
Now, store owners can’t help but get nervous. A break is a great “jumping on” point, but it is often a “jumping off” point as well. Will the fans of the book return on a regular basis like before or have they discovered other things they are interested in?
Only time (and preorders) will tell!
THE BENEFIT OF PULL LISTS
Many comics shops have what are referred to as “pull lists,” meaning you can pre-order your comics by filling out request forms of various types and sizes depending on how your LCS handles this.
For a long time, I trusted my local shop (no matter which one it was at the time) to faithfully get me what I wanted. However, it didn’t take long (and a visit to a competing store) to discover that those who order our weekly stash are human, too. They miss things. Or, worst of all, they make “executive decisions” as to which comics they will carry on their shelves based on sales. I have found that to be a disappointment because I have had books that I fell in love with only to find that the sales didn’t hold up after the first issue, and I was forced to go to other shops in search of the latest issues.
A prime example of this was a comic called Venture from Jay Faerber and Image Comics. It was a different take on the superhero genre, and I quickly grew attached to its interesting story and characters. I was seriously looking forward to that last issue, but I didn’t see it on the shelves for a while. After a month or so, I had to ask the owner when it was coming in. “Oh, I didn’t order it. There are more customers who wanted the latest Marvel comics,” I was told. It didn’t matter that it was an Image comic, either!
I had to find another local shop that had gotten it in. It looked like everyone who had ever seen it had sat on it, but at least I could read it.
Thus began my weekly practice of creating, printing out, and taking with me each week my list of what we coming out. And boy, has that come in handy! Sometimes even the store owner is surprised when I point out that a certain book was supposed to be there! They either forgot to order it, they were “shorted” it by Diamond, the copies they received were all damaged (that I believe), or the delivery service had an accident on the way to the store (I still never buy that one).
If you want to be sure you get what you want, I heartily encourage you to take up this practice. You don’t have to print out you list these days, though—you can use an app on your phone, too. However works best for you, do it!
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THAT WEEKLY TRIP?
These days, many fans aren’t as regulated as I am. Some buy only trades, so they only get to the store they frequent once every few months. Some are completely digital, using online websites to get their books.
Some fans just can’t afford to buy them each week. I get it—keeping the electricity on is very important. (Again, a pull list really helps here, but you have to get them regularly or store employees will be tempted to sell ones you have to someone who is there with cash in hand so they don’t have to wait to make money from them.)
This practice of taking breaks, while it can help creators remain interested and productive when it comes to a regularly published title, just makes it easier for those fans on the fence to abandon comics. I don’t like it, and I usually don’t pick up comics when a break happens.
On the other hand, if that’s what it takes to keep a good comic going, well, okay. This is Mr. Tynion, a favorite of mine, so I’m going to make an exception.