The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our lives – and the comics industry. Many local comic shops have been forced to close and go to mail order of curbside pick-up only – and both readers and publishers are really to help support local stores. As of this week, Diamond is no longer supplying new product to retailers, leaving many questions in the air, not only for whether or not we’ll be getting new comics, but how the direct market will survive the ongoing pandemic.
That’s why The Beat has collected an ongoing survey of how publishers are reacting to the crisis, which you can read below.
Of the 15 publishers listed, 9 are providing return options for retailers with product on the shelves and a significantly parsed back consumer base through the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are still silent on whether or not digital remains an avenue for publishing new content. Archie, Dark Horse and Dynamite have all said explicitly that, other than a few last singles here and there, the only digital comics available will be those that are also available in stores via mass market distributors. In a late night announcement, DC Comics said it would abstain from digital releases through April, while Marvel announced on the following morning that it would have no digital releases for the week of April 1.
In terms of novel strategies, Boom! stands out as providing free variants for retailers to sell, while several other publishers are providing free copies of #1s, or even full trades in Valiant’s case. Meanwhile, TKO takes the unique approach of providing retailers of a customer’s choice 50% of profit from online sales.
On Tuesday, March 31, Diamond announced that it made the difficult decision “hold payments to vendors previously scheduled to release this week [April 1],” causing even more strife for the direct market. This will likely result in further publisher response, perhaps from DC which is considering a “multi-distributor model.”
Given the evolving nature of the situation, publishers’ responses to COVID-19 are highly subject to change. That’s why this article will be updated regularly.
- Delaying all direct market releases scheduled to arrive in stores in late April.
- Releasing comics digitally only in the cases of those that were too far along in physical production to be halted.
- Will continue to produce and stock mass-market and digest titles stocked in grocery stores and newsstands.
- Comics from March, April and May will be returnable.
- Releasing The Resistance #1 (the studio’s debut comic about a global pandemic) to read digitally for free via Webtoons, Tapas and their own website.
- Offering full returnability for products scheduled to be in shops through June 24th.
- Promoting comic stores still providing curbside pickup and delivery services.
- Offering a set of previous variant covers, provided to retailers at no extra cost for retailers. They’ll also provide monthly 1-per-store variants through December 2020, including the Diamond Summit retailer cover for Faithless II #1.
- Not releasing any comics digitally unless they’re also available in print.
- Artbooks, graphic novels and collected editions will still be available same day as bookstore releases.
- 90-day fully returnable terms on all periodicals.
- Bob Harras addresses freelancers. .
- Full returnability on comics through June 24.
- On Saturday, March 28, DC announced they were looking into “multi-distributor model” implications to continue providing new product in spite of Diamond no longer shipping.
- Although DC was reportedly planning to continue releasing a limited number of weekly titles digitally, citing “different audiences” for print vs. digital, on 3/31 it was announced they would only be releasing digital-first comics and collections for the time being.
- Stopping all digital releases that have not already been shipped, per an announcement on March 30.
- Offering returnability on comics released through July.
- Releasing free first issues on ComiXology.
- Offering retailers deep discounts on best-selling collections.
- Pushing back July releases.
- 60-day no-fee full returnability through June 24.
- Suspending May releases corresponding to on sale dates May 6 – May 27.
- Reducing publishing line for products scheduled for July, refocusing on bigger projects in special editions.
- Full returnability on product through May 18.
- Cancelling non-essential releases on reprints.
- Rescheduling releases of singles, TPBs, and graphic novels to stagger new product.
- Promoting retailers able to provide pickup and mail delivery services.
- Reaching out and educating customers.
- “Deep discounts” for retailers, though no returnability.
- Providing advice on how to help retailers, as well as a continuously updated list of open shops.
- Opted out of digital releases for April 1.
Oni Press/Lion Forge
- Full returnability for comics released for the “foreseeable future.”
- Rescheduling release dates on unsolicited titles.
- Providing financial assistance through the Forge Fund.
- Sharing links to free PDFs of comics on Twitter.
- Promoting comic shops still providing curbside pickup and mail delivery.
- Most creators told “pencils down.”
- Cut down upcoming releases and delaying all titles with FOC dates between March 23 and April 13 by two weeks.
- Full returnability on all new #1s.
- Sponsoring local gift card initiative to support retailers in return for free issues of Hundred Wolves #1 and Heavy #1.
The post How comics publishers are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic – an updated list appeared first on The Beat.