With the novel coronavirus shutting down the entertainment industry, and forcing entire companies to either severely reshape their business models or close doors entirely, comic book readers have voiced concern over whether or not they will still be able to buy their expected comics. Nerds can breathe a sigh of relief, now that DC Comics has confirmed they are working with printers and distributors to keep bringing new stories to their fans.
With many cities and states in America enacting strict “stay at home” orders for nonessential travel to combat the spread of COVID-19, the mere ability to print and ship comic books in America has become increasingly difficult. News of Diamond Comic Distributors shutting down (the exclusive direct market distributor for DC, Marvel, and many more publishers) was already bad news for those hoping to read their favorite books while hunkering down at home. But when Transcontinental Printing (the main printing company for DC and many other publishers) also announced it was closing its doors for three weeks, it seemed all hope had been lost. Not only for regularly scheduled comics, but retailers skating the edge of profitability already.
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However, while other companies have indefinitely suspending both print and digital publications for the foreseeable future, it would appear DC is refusing to throw in the towel. In a message to retailers (courtesy of BleedingCool) the company responsible for some of the most prolific superheroes in the world announced they are working to meet demand with other printers, and are also exploring a multi-distributor model to get their product to stores that need them. DC is also allowing retailers to return books and periodicals with in-store dates between March 18 and June 24 (protecting the retailers from the lost sales).
Additionally, because we anticipate that continued disruption to business operations will create regional volatility, DC is exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis. In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible. We will provide additional information about how we’ll make that happen in the coming days.
With DC actively searching for new print and distribution methods for their books, the real question now is how readers will need to go about buying comics with so many local shops closing down indefinitely. Thankfully, comic industry figures — like BOOM Studios’ Morgan Perry and X-Factor‘s Leah Williams, among others — are using the power of Twitter to connect readers with local comic shops that are offering delivery and curbside pickup.
But not every comic store owner is on board with the idea of shops staying open for deliveries and pickup. While covering Diamond’s shutdown, the LA Times found at least one shop owner (George Huang, owner and operator of Comics Factory in Pasadena) who saw the cutoff of supply as simplifying the situation, believing stores refusing or unable to shut down operations are not complying with the CDC’s ‘stay at home’ recommendations since comic books (unfortunately) are not deemed “essential supplies.” But for other retailers, DC Comics promising to keep the doors open means a glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak situation.