There’s an old saying in mainstream comics publishing about needing to be two out of three things to get steady work: very good, very fast, very nice. I don’t think it’ll come as a surprise that many of the creators I worked with were very good and very nice. As with anything, there are exceptions; Garth Ennis, for instance, makes the grade on all three.
Being late on an assignment often comes with a story. I’ve heard a lot of excuses, even the comics equivalent of the dog ate my homework. Most are simple matters of life getting in the way. Sometimes they are odd; an editorial acquaintance once told me about a very well known artist who apologized for being late because when he woke up that morning he could not remember how to draw. This prompted the editor to ask said pencil pusher if he would be reacquiring his talent any time soon.
But my favorite “late” story comes from Canada. Kaare Andrews is one of those guys who fall in the very good and very nice category. I love him, can’t say enough about him as an artist and a person. But it’s probably a good idea to have some lead-time built in if you give him an assignment. I don’t want to scare off any prospective editors looking to work with Kaare; he will come through, but quite possibly a little later than one would hope.
So, sometime last year, Kaare had been promising me pages on a project we’d been working on for a while. Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Andrews, Renaissance man that he is, had received some monies from a Canadian broadcaster to write and direct a short film called Dream Princess. It stars the lovely Kristin Kreuk, no doubt familiar to many of you as TV’s Lana Lang. Eventually Kaare fessed up and told me about his conflicting assignments. I was genuinely happy for Kaare; this was Wonderful news for him, but a bit unfortunate for my erstwhile book.
As the weeks rolled by, Kaare became harder and harder to reach, and I became more and more stressed. Finally I got a call from my Canuck pal telling me an e-mail was on its way with an attachment that would make me happy. Fully expecting to see jpegs of finished pages, I opened the missive. I was a bit surprised by what popped up in front of me, but not entirely unhappy. And while this isn’t technically an excuse, more of a stall tactic, I think it still qualifies somewhat. It certainly got me off Kaare’s back for another week or two.