Rich Johnston, the only journalist in comics, dished up a very tasty rumor which has all the tang of fact:
Sources close to freelancers inform me that DC Comics has a new in house policy for pencillers. Aside from very specific contracted creators (such as Jim Lee), any penciller contracted to work on a monthly book must deliver complete turnaround of 22 pages of work in four weeks. Not a month, four weeks. If that schedule isn’t maintained, they’ll pull pages and assign them to other creators. And you may run short of future work. A reduction in quality is more acceptable than a reduction in quantity.
Specific examples I’ve been given include the recent issue of “Wonder Woman” was half Dodson and half Ron Randall. Also why Koi Turnball was dropped from “Jack Hawksmoor.” And it has been pointed out that there are already three fill-ins on the new “Legion” schedule.
Creators are also being dropped from exclusive contracts over this new regime. Expect certain publishing vultures to swarm.
There’s a lot to be said about this, including the changes in expectations and temperament required of today’s comics artists. It’s not enough to get Dan Spiegle every month (which would be fine with The Beat us, you’d better believe it), you have to get Bryan Hitch every month. But of course what you end up with is often something worse than either.
Looking at the DC creative teams listed in the latest Previews, and noting how many books have fill-in artists or books with the art chores broken up, I can believe this. But I think it’s a mistake. We saw how well this method worked for Countdown. Nothing will kill a book like sloppy, rushed art or breaking up the art chores among several different artists. The other side of the coin is, do you want a book that is late?
[Above, cover to the originally solicited Secret History Of The Authority Jack Hawksmoor #1 by Cully Hamner. ]