Comics Disassembled: Ten Things of Note from the Past Week in Comics, Led by Odd Decisions

It’s a bit of a light week in terms of comics news, so instead, this edition of Comics Disassembled – in which I look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics – will…look at a fair amount of actual comics stuff? Incredible! And it all starts with the weirdest move of the week, by far.

1. Javier Pulido, No More?

I’m going to make a factual statement, and I will not accept any pushback on this subject: Javier Pulido is one of the best artists in comics, and undeniably one of its best storytellers. The guy is a beast, and each and every issue he draws is a treasure for all who read it.

I’m going to make an opinionated statement, and I will accept whatever pushback you might have, even if I might disagree with it: Valiant is an extremely weird publisher. I genuinely have no idea what they’re doing the vast majority of the time, but I do know it was smart of them to hire Javier Pulido. Their confounding nature is mitigated to a degree by decisions to hire very talented people.

Combining those two into one, it is completely insane to me that Valiant had Pulido drawing a Ninjak series, had an entirely complete (and well done) fourth issue by the artist, and then…decided to hire someone else to redraw the bulk of the issue and can the remainder of Pulido’s work. There are so many layers of absurd there. First, replacing Pulido with anyone is a one way train to worse art-ville. Second, you are now paying two people to draw one issue when you already have the issue drawn. Third, it wasn’t for deadline reasons, seemingly, it was – by all appearances – just because they were out on Pulido’s art. Out on Pulido’s art? Couldn’t be me.

By all metrics of success, Valiant failed in this endeavor. As a publisher of comic books, they failed by weakening their own comics. As a business, they failed by paying two artists for a single issue. As an entity that is known in this world, they failed in that they made one of the most bizarre decisions one could possibly make. I suppose the one way they didn’t fail is this successfully made people talk about Valiant for once, but unfortunately, it was mostly to say things like, “Wow, Valiant sure is weird as hell!” Happy trails to Pulido, though, as I genuinely hope he ends up with a project that deserves his talents next. Hire this man!

2. Image Comics, Off the (Supply) Chain

As part of the continuing supply chain issues, apparently Image revealed to retailers late last week that second prints are going bye bye for the foreseeable future. That means the first print up front will be the only print, which means – amongst other things – Saga #55 is going to get one print. That’s tough stuff. It’s also rather impossible to prevent, as this isn’t an Image specific problem or a printer problem or really an anyone problem, so much as a deeply troubling and impossible to predict systematic issue that will be fixed…at some point in the future…maybe? Basically, it says this: retailers, up your order if you believe in a book at all, and readers, if you want a comic, you better pre-order it if you actually expect to get it. (I don’t even want to get into what this means for speculators…no thank you)

And this is an important addition: not only is this not an Image specific problem, it’s likely soon to be an everyone in comics problem. If you want your print comics, single issues or trades or graphic novels, you better plan, folks. There will not be the customary multiple bites of this apple – temporary R.I.P. to second, third, and fourth prints as covert variants – so your options are basically limited to collaborative behavior or buying digitally. That’s it. So let’s all throw down our Nash Equilibrium considerations and make choices that factor ourselves and others into the process so we can still have nice things. Update your pull lists, everyone!

Good on Image, though, as transparency is key in a time like this, especially when it creates a sense of urgency amongst those in charge of deciding how many comics each shop will get.

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