- Posted by Johanna on April 9, 2012 at 3:58 pm
- Category: Comic News
Flipping through the latest issue of Paul Grist’s Mudman (#3), I noticed that the text section/letter to readers tackles the question of “what happened to Jack Staff?”, Grist’s previous superhero comic.
After plugging the four collections available so far for the title (start with Everything Used to Be Black and White), and announcing that the next book, Old Beginnings, New Endings, will reprint the six issues he released of Weird World of Jack Staff, Grist answers the question as follows:
The problem Jack Staff had was, despite its popularity amongst those who read it, there just weren’t that many people actually buying the comic. Despite my best efforts (and those of Image) there didn’t seem to be much that could be done to change the situation. Changing the title to Weird World of Jack Staff in 2010 was an attempt to try and catch a few new readers, but despite the initial push this gave it, it never actually increased the sales of the comic.
Might I suggest that there is something that might have been done? Much as I enjoy Grist’s work, I dropped his comics five years ago when I finally got tired of him never making a promised deadline. A little later, he and Image announced that the book would be going monthly, but that idea only lasted four months before the book was delayed again. Here’s the publication history of Jack Staff (comics, not books) over the past three years:
- Jack Staff #20, May 2009 (resolicited)
- Weird World of Jack Staff #1, Feb 2010
- Weird World of Jack Staff #2, Apr 2010
- Weird World of Jack Staff #3, Sep 2010
- Weird World of Jack Staff #4, Aug 2010
- Weird World of Jack Staff #5, Oct 2010
- Weird World of Jack Staff #6, Apr 2011
A patchy release schedule, making the book seem quarterly, isn’t going to support a superhero comic, no matter how well-drawn. And when you look at the pattern of his history… There are still uncollected issues of Kane, his cop series before Jack Staff, which once upon a time was announced to be going to an original graphic novel format. Never happened. Heck, I have three different Burglar Bill #1s, a six-issue miniseries that only ever made it to issue #4 under one of its three publishers.
I sympathize with Grist’s statement that he “can’t carry on indefinitely working on a comic that isn’t selling enough copies”, but I also suspect it’s a situation much of his own making, or at best, a chicken-and-egg case. (Does it not sell because people never know when to look for it, or do customers not buying make it take longer to get an issue out?) Grist mentions that he intends to bring Jack Staff back someday as a “series of mini-series and one-shots, like Hellboy.” I’ll believe it when I see it.
Oh, and Grist also says that “Jack Staff was not (as sometimes mistakenly reported) a reworked Union Jack proposal for Marvel Comics, but a variation on the British Superhero theme.” I could have sworn that Grist was the one who said it was inspired by Union Jack, down to naming a particular story it spins off of. (See here and here.) Regardless of whether it was or not, at this point, given Marvel’s legal history and their ownership, it’s safest to say otherwise now.