Troubled Production / Comic Books

"I wouldn't exactly call "Maximum Clonage" the apex of the clone saga — it was more like the nadir. Just as "Maximum Carnage" came to be known around the Marvel offices (in somewhat hushed tones) as "Maximum Garbage," this magnum opus "Maximum Clonage" would come to be known as "Maximum Bonage."
Editor/Writer Glenn Greenberg on The Clone Saga

  • David Herbert apparently attracts this kind of production with all his works except Living With Insanity. Tnemrot was supposed to be a print comic and was written in late 2008, going through seven artists before Tatiana Lepikhina joined and is now a webcomic. Gemini Storm was also written at the same time, came out in March 2010 and the second issue is still expected to take another month or two before being released. He has also mentioned other projects that haven't gone anywhere due to artists dropping out or simply disappearing.
  • The Clone Saga, the infamous storyline that would have temporarily shunted Peter Parker from his role as Spider-Man and giving it to his once-thought dead clone Ben Reilly, went wildly out of control when the story became mired in Writer Revolts, Executive Meddling, Padding, and old-fashioned greed, expanding a story that would have only lasted a few months into a story that lasted years. When the Kudzu Plot ran rampant, Ending Fatigue set in, and fans started to leave the titles in annoyance, Marvel was forced to figure out a way to set things back to Status Quo.
    • The non-Cliff Notes description: The story was meant to be a three act event to herald the arrival of Amazing Spider-Man #400. However, no one seemed to have an idea on what to do before hand and went with the idea after it was given and championed. Things spiraled out of control because of the four aforementioned problems: Marvel, via Ronald Perelmannote , wanted a storyline that would rival Age of Apocalypse and, going with a "profit or die" mentality note , the marketing department held a lot more clout than anyone else: instead of a set series of stories, marketing demanded that they stretch the story as long as possible. That meant one-shots, mini-series and extra long events. Bit by bit, creators got fed up and walked out as the story grew more and more convoluted.
  • The popular crossover between the Justice League and The Avengers languished for 20 years because DC and Marvel couldn't decide on who would win in a fight. The reason for this decision is now particularly clear: it was a major Executive Meddling temper tantrum: Jim Shooter, who had just became head of Marvel prior, was incredibly pissed off that the X-Men had teamed up with the Teen Titans and not with the Legion of Super-Heroes, which was something he held dearly.
  • Anything that isn't part of the mainstream Marvel Comics tends to suffer from this. One of the more documented ones was The New Universe. Touted as "The World Outside Your Window", the franchise fell apart from the beginning - writers tossed in 616-type elements (aliens, powered armors, etc.), financial backers pulled out before it even started, and people were too engrossed by that slogan. Despite canceling half of the franchise and starting a massive storyline that began with the destruction of Pittsburgh, it never got off its feet and died nearly three years later.
    • newuniversal suffered an equally crushing blow when the files on Warren Ellis' laptop were lost when his hard drive failed. Marvel shuffled him on to other projects and newuniversal died an inglorious death.
    • Marvel 2099, which depicted a futuristic Marvel Universe as a Cyber Punk dystopia, wasn't the greatest, but when Marvel let go its editor-in-chief for that line as a cost-cutting measure thanks to its near-bankruptcy, many of its creators bailed due to their dislike of his replacement, leaving the series to limp to its end.
  • The Image Comics/Valiant Comics crossover Deathmate was the victim of both companies having conflicting philosophies on comic book production. Valiant created their half of the crossover with a tight editorial leash, but Image let their own artists and writers do whatever they wanted, contributing to the comics' disjointed feel. That neither company knew each other's characters, resulting in lots of out of character moments, didn't help. Worst of all, however, Valiant's half came on time owing to their strict adherence to deadlines and shipping schedules, but Image's half, like much of their work, was infamously late. So late, in fact, that by the time their half was published, interest in the series had dried up, leaving comic shops that had pre-ordered the series with piles of unsellable comics, which helped set off The Great Comics Crash of 1996. It also served as a Creator Killer for Valiant.
  • Anything done by Rob Liefeld, a master of the Schedule Slip. During the making of Deathmate, Liefeld's contributions had passed so many deadlines, that an editor from Valiant had to go to Liefeld's house and refuse to leave, just to make sure that his work wasn't over a year late.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog always had a problem when it came to converting video game storylines into its largely different setting. However, two of the biggest screw ups came about via Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. For Sonic Adventure, Sega gave Archie a copy of the game... untranslated, so they had to fudge a lot of the story. The original plan was to have the storyline run through then-all three titles - Sonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles the Echidna and Sonic Super Special. However, just before the storyline started, the Knuckles comic got cancelled, forcing Archie to cram all of the Knuckles stories into the Sonic issues as back stories.
    • For Sonic Adventure 2's story, the big problem was that Sega was insistent on Archie creating a tie-in into the game. Archie's solution? Just do enough to whet people's appetite and go get the game. Still was enough to ruin a side-by-side storyline that had a cosmically-powered Knuckles altering Mobius drastically.
      • From Sonic Adventure 2 onwards, most adaptation storylines ended up just usually being short teasers following the issues main story. The teaser game stories have boxes that clarify whether the game in question is to be taken as canon in the comic's universe or not.
    • And then, there was the problem with Ken Penders and Karl Bollers. Around 1997-98, Karl Bollers took over the Sonic comic as Penders focused on the Knuckles comic. However, Ken would end up shuffling back over to Sonic due to the Knuckles comic getting cancelled. At first, things weren't too bad, as Penders could focus on the Knuckles back up stories. However, come #125, those were done away with and the two were working together. Suddenly, the two men were trying to pull rank over one another over story elements and which way they wanted the story to go. Ultimately, Bollers quit while Penders stayed on for a few issues longer before being let go, with newcomer Ian Flynn being asked to go from simple one-story back up writer to Head Writer. A few years down the line, Penders decided to reclaim his characters and storylines, copyrighting them all with Archie and Sega being notified of this. Archie sued Penders, claiming that the characters he created were Sega's, Penders counter-sued and we're off to the races.
      • In the end, both sides kept shooting themselves in the foot and, ultimately, they settled, going so far as to have Archie utterly reboot the series from the ground up.
    • On the subject of Sonic-related works connected to Ken Penders, there's the exhausting story concerning what became The Lara-Su Chronicles. The original story was initially called "Knuckles: 20 Years Later" and was meant to be an issue of Sonic Super Special. However, SSS got cancelled with issue 15. The story was refined and rebranded as "Mobius: 25 Years Later", serving as back-up stories in the main title. However, Penders left the story on a cliffhanger and soon quit Archie due to Executive Meddling (they wanted him to add more Sonic characters to it). He regained usage of the characters thanks to the lawsuit and promised to tell the tale he wanted to with a release date of July 2015. As of this writing, it hasn't been released with the excuse of "wanting to translate it to other languages" being the reason.
    • The problems for Archie wouldn't end with the reboot. Mega Man's title was flagging sales again and Archie decided it was time for a second crossover. Enter Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Unite and Archie decided to make it bigger - not only did they involve both main titles along with Sonic Boom (though relegated to just Sticks the Badger, Fastidious Beaver and Comedy Chimp) and the main heroes of the Mega Man X series, but a dozen other franchises from SEGA and Capcom, which cost Archie millions in licensing costs. Unlike Worlds Collide, Worlds Unite was a mixed bag and given a lukewarm reception with Archie barely recouping the costs. This lead to Sonic Boom and Mega Man to be shuttered afterwards as a cost-cutting measure (Though Boom was more due to the backlash from Rise of Lyric's failure.) and the Sonic titles were hit hard as the crossover smashed into the ongoing Shattered World storyarc. The title would go into a brief hiatus soon after, a result of Archie rebooting their entire main line and go on a second, much longer hiatus that would lead to the title's cancellation and the license being sent to IDW Publishing. The exact reasoning for Archie losing the license isn't known, but hints from various sources seem to hint that the Archie reboot drained them financially and their focus on Riverdale lead to Archie to be very lax on the idea of keeping the series despite it being one of their best-sellers.
  • The wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane was this. The original plan was for them to get hitched in Superman vol. 2 #75. However, by this time, Warner Bros. was making plans to make a new live-action Superman series and asked DC to wait until they did their own wedding to do theirs. DC complied, but they just lost a year's worth of stories. At one of their "Super Summits", writer Jerry Ordway made his usual joking suggestion of "Let's just kill 'em" and it gained traction. We all know where that went. However, the wedding languished for four years while WB continued on with their series. At one point, DC actually separated Clark and Lois waiting for them and once the series FINALLY got to do their wedding - four years later - DC was quick to reconcile them and get them married. In a sick version of Russian Roulette, this ended up killing off the TV series, though not before airing a wedding episode which guest-starred an angel(!) who arrives on Earth to marry the couple off, and all but turns to the audience and begs on hands and knees for forgiveness.
  • Howard Cruse told his publisher that he could finish Stuck Rubber Baby in two years. It took four. The funds from the later two years were provided from sales of original art from the book at a considerable mark-up to patrons within the gay and comics communities, as well as grants.
  • For X-Men, "Mutant Massacre" was the first big crossover between Uncanny X-Men and X-Factor. Also, The Mighty Thor, New Mutants, Power Pack, and Daredevil note  took part for tie-in issues. It would make for 12 issues total. According to Walt Simonson, the idea was to craft the story in such a way that you follow along if you only read one of the given titles, but that you'd also be rewarded with a more complex tale if you read all of the issues. The average X-Fan would get a major story, while those who only read the other books wouldn't be bogged down. There was even a flow chart included in some issues telling readers how the various issues intersected. While the story was well-received, came out on time, and was the beginning of a trend of X-Men crossovers, X-Factor writer Louise Simonson described the required coordination to pull it off as a horrible experience. In order for the story to make sense, there were many lengthy phone calls, as well as many different scripts to go over and keep track of. It is perhaps no coincidence that the next major crossover ("Fall of the Mutants") did not see the participating titles intersect.