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workaround for graphics_array needing prior show?

I'm trying to use graphics_array to show a list of four simple plots. when I create the plots and display them straightaway in the graphics_array() it messes up the axis labeling and so on. I discovered via google that you can workaround that by first calling show() or save() on each of the graphs (I guess that finalizes their layout etc), and then call graphics array to combine them. But this results in each of the charts being shown individually before being shown in an array, which defeats the purpose.

The closest I've found is calling save('foo.pdf') on each of the charts, since it doesn't know how to display a PDF file you only get a link to 'foo.pdf'. I guess what I'd really like is save(filename, display=False) or something? (Of course ultimately I'd like graphics_array() to do the right thing in the first place and prepare each chart individually before compositing them)

Any ideas?