The world is changing rapidly due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Almost daily, we are receiving new news that changes the status quo. Schools are closed across the country. New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and many more are under stay-home orders. Non-Essential business are shuttered in many states. That includes comic shops.
Today, Governor Larry Hogan issued the order for non-essential businesses to close in Maryland, the home of Diamond Comic Distributors. How does that order affect the already severely wounded comic industry? We will find out.
Comic Publishers React
We have seen public statements from several comic book publishers over the past few days reacting to the anticipated drop in orders and revenue due to the fact that most of the country is following the #StayHome orders for the immediate future. They have implemented programs to make more comics returnable, and reduced the or postponed shipments of books that have been anticipated. Below is a list of what we know at this point.
A message to our comic book retailer partners. pic.twitter.com/GdW7Bj8Xaz
— Archie Comics (@ArchieComics) March 23, 2020
From Publisher Joe Pruett:
We have had deep, serious discussions with Diamond and are prepared to participate, where we can, in initiatives and relief plans that they will put forward soon. We have also had conversations with many retailers, who have encouraged us to postpone shipments of our new books. As of this writing, we are working to delay such shipments by a minimum of 4 weeks, monitoring and re-evaluating daily the possible extension of this delay beyond 4 weeks, if necessary. We look forward with hope and confidence to that time when we can return to business as usual.
Vice President of Marketing Steve Rotterdam also emphasized, “While we basically shifted almost everything down 4 weeks beginning in April, as we monitor the situation and continue to stay in touch with retailers, there may be further adjustments announced.”
— Albatross Funnybooks (@AlbatrossEFB) March 21, 2020
Today we’re announcing the BOOM! Retailer Support Services Program, a comprehensive set of initiatives to aid comic book shops worldwide, including full returnability through June 2020: https://t.co/lAnRKG6Usl#BoostYourLCS https://t.co/aOsTOyu24Q pic.twitter.com/zfQOx0vXIF
— BOOM! Studios (@boomstudios) March 23, 2020
We covered Image Comics’ response earlier.
Source Point Press
Stores have been there for us, we need to be there for them. Pick the shop you want to support & let us know in the comments when you check out at our webstore. We’ll send 25% of the sale right to that store. https://t.co/OtwyaVwjlx pic.twitter.com/NYYAOrJCfa
— Joshua Werner (@JoshuaFrantic) March 23, 2020
Local Comic Shops are Suffering
Many Local Comic Shops are shuttered by government decree. Those that remain open, are struggling due to the public concern to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Lots of folks are in a state of self-quarantine and staying home.
The #BoostYourLCS hashtag on Twitter has been trending to keep customers informed about what shops are in need of support.
An annotated Google Maps has been created to keep track of which stores are open and which are engaging in curbside pick-up or shipping.
Some other shops have come up with other ideas.
Third Eye Comics in Maryland is offering special deals on gift certificates and is calling them Third Eye Battle-Bonds.
Wanna help your pals at Third Eye AND get cool stuff? Buy Third Eye Battle Bonds! Get the full scoop on ’em here: https://t.co/C2liDC5pTy #comics #comicbooks #comiccollector #buythirdeyeordie #comiccollectors #funisessential pic.twitter.com/4QAS0FXnF2
— thirdeyecomics (@thirdeyecomics) March 23, 2020
We have also seen some LCS’s take to hosting virtual Facebook Live auction style sales to supplement their lost income. An example of one of those is Aw Yeah Comics in Muncie, IN.
Everyone is finding a way to keep their retail establishments in business when they are relying on a razor-thin margin for the majority of their inventory and their customers can’t or shouldn’t get to the store.
Creators Are Dealing With Uncertainty
Many comic creators are dealing with significant impact to their income. Most if not all comic conventions have been cancelled or postponed and a lot of creators use these events to supplement income. There have been efforts to create online virtual shows to boost online sales of art.
Also, due to the uncertainty of demand and reduced shipping by publishers, some projects have been cancelled or delayed and that affects the income of freelancers.
Creators are doing everything they can to enable and enhance online outlets for their work. Patreon is a good way to support your favorite creators if they have sites there.
If you have considered getting a commission from your favorite artist, and you can afford it, now is a great time to reach out and order that custom made art.
Everything is Changing
The most important thing to remember is that this is a fluid situation. Everything we are learning is subject to change. As more government guidelines come out, more restrictions may be imposed that cause people to adjust even further. In the writing of this article, I had to go back and edit facts that have changed since I began the article.
We will stay here and support the industry as best we can. We are hoping for safety and health for everyone and looking for a recovery for all those affected by this worldwide epidemic.
Like I said everything is fluid. Since this was published, we found out that Diamond Distributors will stop accepting new books for shipment. There is an announcement upcoming and we will bring it to you when we get it.
Here is the Press Release