Hunter x Hunter is a shonen manga, the story of which follows a young orphaned boy named Gon Freecs. Gon dreams of becoming a Hunter. A Hunter is licensed to track down various things, including treasure, rare beats, and individuals. Gon’s adventures, in which he is joined by a group of mismatched associates, include the development and use of aura-based powers (called “Nen”), giant man-eating ants, a skyscraper filled with martial arts tournaments, and visually-striking evil adversaries called the Phantom Troupe.
Japanese manga writer/artist Yoshihiro Togashi is Hunter x Hunter’s creator. The manga has been collected into 34 volumes over what this year will be its twentieth anniversary of publication, and has spawned two anime television series, and two animated motion pictures. The manga has been translated into English and published by Viz Media, since 2005. Shonen Jump has been Hunter x Hunter’s home since the manga’s creation in 1998.
But Mr Togashi’s ongoing medical problems with his back have resulted in publication of the very successful manga being repeatedly stalled. This has led to harsh comments from critics (notably, the 2007 article entitled “Kings of Hiatus – the One Year Anniversary of Hunter x Hunter Hiatus” by Comicpress), and which in turn has led to a somewhat snarky ongoing watch of Mr Togashi’s efforts, captured in this chart.)
The manga was put on hold in September 2017. Mr Togashi announced at the time that he planned to resume the series before the end of the year. The manga had resumed publication in June 2017 following on from a one-year hiatus. Other years-long delays have plagued publication.
Hiatuses in the production of comics can indeed lead to complaints from readers and critics: the enormous delays on Mark Millar’s work on The Authority (Wildstorm/DC Comics) in the early 2000s were attributable to very substantive editorial interference and caused outcry from both readers and then, eventually, Mr Millar himself.
But complaints can overlook good reasons. Warren Ellis’ Planetary (Wildstorm/DC Comics) was published over ten years, but consisted of only twenty-seven issues. Mr Ellis was unwell during the first hiatus of 2001-2003. But the gap between issue 26 (December 2006) and issue 27 (December 2009) was remarkable for a comic which was originally published a monthly periodical. The reasons for this are poignant, as detailed on the Popmatters website:
It’s well-known by now that Ellis doesn’t wish to speak too much of Planetary in the years to come, nor is he as interested in revisiting the world as he once implied he was. This is due to the fact that the author associates Planetary with a series of painful tragedies in his life, chief among them his father’s illness and eventual death. When one looks at the series through that lens, at least two things become apparent: one, let the author do what he wants. He has earned the right to retire these characters. They are his and his alone. Letting them go, as if he’s letting go of something horrible from his past (and, indeed, he is) as if it were a tangible object, will be the healthiest thing he can do for himself at this juncture. Second, it becomes clear that, if Ellis’ father’s illness and passing contributed as much to Planetary as the readers have been led to believe, then it’s almost glaringly obvious that the story of Elijah, Jakita, Drums and Ambrose is really all about personal regret and the desire to change things against all odds, no matter who tells you what you want to accomplish is dangerous or impossible.
Sometimes creators have good reasons for stalling production of their work. We hope that Mr Togashi’s health recovers soon.