The Many Writers and Artists
Given how interconnected the creative teams have to be, it may take a long time to replace an unsuccessful writer or artist. By the time editorial gets reader feedback on the first issue, the creative team in question will be most likely working on their next storyline, which may not see print for another six months. It may be also be difficult to find a place for a new creative team, given how far in advance everyone involved will have to work on any multi‑part story.
Shifts in how the writers and artists interpret certain characters will be more noticeable, if there’s a one or two week gap between issues of Amazing Spider‑Man, and those differences are even more jarring in TPB form, as most trades would feature work by multiple creators. That could lead to trade paperbacks selling less copies than if they only featured the work of a single creative team. For instance, a Bob Gale fan will be less inclined to buy a seven issue trade with two issues of content by him, and three issues by Slott, when he would have happily bought a five issue volume completely written by the screenwriter of a movie on IMDB’s top 250.
With many different artists coming on the book for a three issue (or less) stint, there is a loss of artistic consistency. As there isn’t one artist doing the majority (or even a third) of the work, the book becomes an easy project for artists who have a few months between major assignments, with less comparisons to a single artist and no expectation that they’ll be around for a long time. With so many artists working on the series, while the average reader will be introduced to artists with whom he is currently unfamiliar, the average reader will also eventually find a few that he dislikes, which may put him off the series, which is already more expensive to follow than a less prolific book.
It’s also disappointing for a reader to learn that a favorite artist is only doing three issues, as that may encourage fans to wait for the next project. The work that took the typical artist several months to draw (meaning he disappeared completely from the marketplace for that period) appeared over the course of a month, sometimes even at the same time as his work on another monthly title, where he required less lead time. That combination can make any penciler suddenly seem overexposed.
Writers who have worked closely together on these types of projects admit that it is more time‑consuming, meaning you’ll see less work by your favorite writers than if they were on more independent projects, though most writers would say that collaboration can be more rewarding and results in above average work.
However, it’s more glaringly obvious when the co‑ordination between writers fails, and one arc suddenly contradicts the developments of another. For example, there were some complaints about the first chapter of “One More Day” taking place a few days after Civil War ends, which didn’t leave many openings for the other “Back in Black” storylines (six issues of Friendly Neighborhood Spider‑Man, six issues and an annual of Sensational Spider‑Man, the Spider‑Man Fallen Son issue, World War Hulk, New Avengers #27‑35 and two issues of Avengers: The Initiative.) This type of problem would be more extreme if one issue of Amazing Spider‑Man contradicted or completely ignored the previous twelve issues. It hinders creativity, as the writers have to deal with the developments of other writers far more closely than if they were all on separate books.
There’s a huge potential for a clash of egos, especially if the writers have different ideas for the characters, or if the writers compete to use an A‑list villain, or a bigger‑name artist. I wouldn’t expect artists to be immune to this, as they could start competing for scripts by the bigger‑name writers, or with the bigger characters. Delays could lead to more clashes. If Mike McKone’s storyline is delayed because Lee Weeks is late, he might be pissed.
What happens when the writers disagree? Let’s say Zeb Wells thought it would be awesome to have J Jonah Jameson become Director of HAMMER after Norman Osborn goes down. He convinced Dan Slott, Joe Quesada and Steve Wacker that this would be a great development for Marvel comics. But Fred Van Lente, Mark Waid and Joe Kelly disagreed. The more writers you have on the Spider‑Man books, the more chances you have for public conflicts. At the same time, the creators could become protective of one another, and it becomes difficult for Marvel to fire an unsuccessful writer if three writers and four artists inform Marvel that if he’s gone from the book, the rest of them will follow.
Given how far in advance the crew have to work, it becomes difficult to use the most recent developments of fellow writers, and it takes longer to respond to fan reaction. For example, Norah Winters from Amazing Spider-Man #575-576 was well-received by readers after her introduction in October 2008, but the character wasn’t used again until April 2009, because of the difficulty of incorporating new developments, especially those that aren’t part of a carefully planned mega-arc.
There were stretches of the Brand New Day era in which stories could have been published in an entirely different order, with no discernible effect. There was nothing in Amazing Spider-Man #577’s Punisher story that affected Spider-Man when he fought the Shocker in Amazing Spider-Man #578-579. Things are admittedly a little different in the Big Time era, in which the title comes out more than once a month, but with one writer. So we’ll look at that schedule next.