Glenn Hauman: Late, As Usual
Mark Evanier has been writing and collecting stories from various other comics editors about freelancers who do or do not get their work in on time, and the motivations for why they might end up delivering late:
The artist was a freelancer who worked for many companies and editors. I absolutely sympathize with anyone in that position because that’s been my entire career for 49 years now — juggling assignments, working for several places at the same time.
By his own admission, this artist worried incessantly about not having enough work to meet the expenses of life. Even when he had a full dance card and was turning down work, he was fretting, “What if there’s nothing more after I hand in my current assignments?” When I asked him to draw the story for me, he should have said no, he didn’t have time. He was already committed to too many other jobs but on impulse, he said yes. […] He thought he was doing both of us a favor by taking on the job…and he thought he’d have more time than I said.
I’m going to throw in at least one other reason that’s related to this: occasionally, there are artists who are just too good at their job— by which I mean that there’s just not as much challenge as there used to be. After you’ve drawn 2000 pages of comic art in your time, many of the problems in doing the job go away and you get bored. How many different times can you draw the same character, after all? The challenge is the composition and breakdown of the page, but after that– eh. He knows he can finish it, and he knows what it’s going to look like when he’s done. (Think of it like a surgeon who hands off the closing to someone else.)
So in at least one case that I know of… the artist pushes the clock. He gets as close to the deadline as possible, maybe even a little beyond it, and then he starts working. The challenge is to do the job while racing against the hard limit, all while dodging emails and phone calls from people in the editorial office who are getting closer and closer to heart attacks. And by challenging himself on speed, he gets that thrill from creation again.
But… as you might suspect, sometimes he blows the timing. Something comes up, something goes wrong, someone shows up inviting you on a treasure hunt.
The question then becomes at that point… can you trust the artist again? Well, maybe. But an editor will always have that worry in the back of his mind… and from that point on, he’ll have a backup plan when working with that artist.
Image from Small Blue Yonder.