'CHRONOS' ARTIST DISCUSSES CANCELLATION
Spared in the recent spate of cancellations at DC Comics was a title many
thought had also fallen below the level of profitability. Instead,
"Chronos" was apparently rescued from near-certain death this summer, even
as "The Creeper," "Chase," "Green Arrow" and "Young Heroes in Love" marched
towards their final issue during the "DC One Million" crossover this month.
And then it was announced that "Chronos" was indeed dead, and would be
ending with issue #11, to be published in January.
Series artist Paul Guinan explained the reasons behind the move to the
Comic Wire, confirming online rumors about the impetus for the move:
"Yes, John Francis Moore has 'pulled the plug' on 'Chronos,' and in fact used
that very phrase himself," Guinan said. "Among the reasons he gave me were:
a deadline schedule that didn't allow him to spend the time he needed on
his scripts, editorial circumstances that contributed to the book going in
a direction he didn't care for, aesthetic disappointments, and low sales.
"The book's production schedule was tight from the very start, with no room
for delays of any kind," he said. "This had a kind of snowball effect. With
periodicals - especially ongoing, monthly comics - once you fall behind
schedule, you're forever playing catch-up. There's no time to take a
breather, the pressure becomes more
intense, you start compromising your work to get it done quickly, and
sometimes mistakes crop up. (One example was a draft script sent out with a
plot hole that wasn't caught until after the pages had been inked.) If a
monthly comic book is running late enough, an unfortunate side effect is
that covers can't be done in time for it to be promoted well. Without a
cover graphic, the marketing department can't 'push' a title in the phone
book that is the monthly distributor's catalogue, and the solicitation
winds up being a small, easily overlooked block of text.
"The passing of Archie Goodwin was a major blow to the book as well as the
entire comics industry. The period following his death became an editorial
vacuum from the perspective of the 'Chronos' creative team. There were
communication breakdowns, and no one to 'ride herd' on the title for a while.
"One result is that the cliffhanger in 'Chronos' #8 isn't resolved until
three issues later. Partly due to time constraints, the 'DC One Million'
plot proved difficult to integrate into the overall narrative of 'Chronos,'
so instead it was treated as a stand-alone story that didn't touch on how
#8 ended. At about this time, DC's marketing department arranged for
'Chronos' #9 (which came out after the One Million issue) to be overshipped
to retailers, in an effort to promote the series and raise sales. Our new
editor suggested that since the One Million issue was stand-alone, it could
be drawn by a fill-in artist so that I could catch up on the schedule with
issue 9. I agreed, and the art team from 'Chase' was assigned. Because #9
was to be overshipped, the editor decided that it should be a stand-alone
story also. This meant John had to swap the events he'd already planned for
issues 9 and 10.
"John was also asked to make Chronos more pro-active, less swept along by
events around him, and in the words of one editor, less whiny and more
'kick-ass.' For this and other reasons, 'Chronos' wasn't turning out as he
"When Mike Carlin came on board as editor (the third in eight issues), I
thought the series was poised for recovery. Not only did it seem like a
show of faith from DC, but CHRONOS would now be in the best hands when it
came to dealing with questions of DCU continuity and guest appearances by
DC heroes. With a new cover artist [Tony Harris] and colorist, the book
would have a fresh look. Inker Steve Leialoha was no longer splitting his
time between two projects (which is one reason issues 5 and 6 were inked by
four separate people), and could focus more closely on 'Chronos.' John's
latest script called for Chronos to remove himself from history - wiping
the slate clean, creatively speaking, and positioning the character for his
next phase. Our hero was about to get a shave and a haircut, confidence and
"In San Diego I spent much time at the Comic-Con dispelling rumors of
cancellation. I heard from three major retailers that they gave customers
money-back guarantees on 'Chronos,' and no one had returned a single
issue," Guinan continued. "I went home to Portland with my batteries
recharged, began pencilling issue 10, and called John. He told me he was
pulling the plug on 'Chronos' - that the results were not what he'd
expected, and not worth the continued investment of his energy and
emotions. I understand where he's coming from. Next year will be the tenth
anniversary of 'Heatbreakers,' a series I co-created with my wife, Anina
Bennett. Sometimes I feel like Don Quixote, tilting at the windmills of the
unpredictable comic-book market. I dream of the day when 'Heartbreakers'
might become my paying 'day job' - and I don't even have a kid to feed,
just a house and an action-figure habit.
"With 'Chronos' behind schedule, low-selling, and plagued by a myriad of
minor scheduling and production problems, Mike agreed to John's request to
end the series. Mike joked that now he wouldn't get a chance to claim
credit for saving 'Chronos.' He suggested that, considering the current
climate of the comics market, perhaps in a couple of years the character
could be brought back in a different context, under a different title -
'Tales of Chronopolis,' for example.
"My thanks to Mike Carlin for his handling and support of 'Chronos,' and to
John Moore for allowing me the opportunity to co-create 'Chronos' with him.
Above all, thanks to Archie Goodwin, who launched the series. He provided
the layout for the image on the 'Chronos' poster, which hangs in my studio.
I see it every day, I often think of Archie ... and sometimes, I wonder
what might have been."