Pretty much as soon as Diamond Comics Distributors announced they would be ceasing shipping new product to retailers following this week’s new titles, the question has hung in the air of what publishers would do in the meantime. Would they release titles digitally while print delivery is on hold, or would they suspend releases until Diamond is back up and running?
The first publisher has now revealed their plans, as Archie Comics sent a note to retailers today announcing that they will be delaying indefinitely all direct market releases scheduled to arrive in stores in late April. According to the note, a few titles were too far along in physical production to delay, having already been printed and mailed to subscribers and to stores that ordered custom variant covers. Two of those titles, Sabrina: Something Wicked #1 and Cosmo: The Mighty Martian #5, were planned to hit stores next Wednesday, April 1st. As a result, Archie will release all of their direct market April 1st titles digitally next week. Another title, Vampironica: New Blood #4, has also already been printed, and will be released digitally on its planned physical release date of April 15th. Mass-market titles like the many digests that Archie produces for newsstands and grocery stores will stay in production and be released as normal “as long as this option remains available.”
Along with the release update, Archie also announced they’re expanding their previously-announced returnability for titles scheduled for release in March and April to also include May-scheduled books.
You can read the full statement from Archie Comics below. Hopefully one publisher stepping forward to make an announcement will prompt more to do the same regarding their single issue plans, and we can all put some of this uncertainty behind us, at least for a little while.
A message from Archie Comics to our comic book retailer partners:
It is an understatement to say that these are challenging and uncertain times for everyone. We want to be as transparent and communicative as possible in regards to what we plan to do with our products over the coming weeks and months.
As noted in an earlier statement, we do not want to put an undue burden on retailers already facing shutdowns and limited-to-no distribution from Diamond. Some of the early steps we’ve taken to accomplish this include, but are not limited to, offering returnability on all of our products originally scheduled for release in March & April. We are now extending that to cover releases in the month of May.
We are also indefinitely delaying all of our planned releases for new direct-market focused comic book projects originally scheduled to launch in late-April through July. This includes our recently announced Betty Cooper: Superteen and Archie Meets Flash Gordon one-shots as well as future issues of Archie & Katy Keene, Sabrina: Something Wicked, Super Duck, and the Betty & Veronica: The Bond of Friendship OGN, as well as other, yet-to-be announced titles. The release schedules for these titles are fluid and will be re-evaluated at a later date.
With that said, we have three titles already in the pipeline that are too far down the path to pull back completely. This small selection of titles has already been printed, with copies mailed to our subscribers as well as select direct market retailers who have ordered custom variant covers. This includes Sabrina: Something Wicked #1 (on sale 4/1), Cosmo the Mighty Martian #5 (on sale 4/1, final issue) and Vampironica: New Blood #4 (on sale 4/15, also a final issue).
As such, we will be releasing our full slate of 4/1 titles via our direct sale channels and digitally. These books are returnable via Diamond and we are able to service your backlist needs as well as provide limited front-list ordering directly from our warehouse if you wish to offer them to your customers. Please reach out directly to us via the usual communication channels and we can coordinate any orders as time and stock allows. Vampironica: New Blood #4, the final issue in the series, will be the last of our direct market-focused titles available digitally when it releases on 4/15.
While we will have already hit pause on all new direct-market focused titles, we will continue to publish our newsstand & subscriber-focused Classic Archie titles such as Archie Jumbo Comics Digest, Archie Milestones Jumbo Comics Digest, Betty & Veronica Jumbo Comics Digest, B&V Friends Jumbo Comics Digest, and World of Archie Jumbo Comics Digest as long as this option remains available to us. Our graphic novels and book market releases such as Archie Comics Presents, our Giant Comics Series, and reprint titles such as Archie & Friends and Betty & Veronica: Friends Forever will continue as digital titles, with print releases depending on printer and distribution channel availability. These are titles that primarily serve channels outside of the direct market, which are currently still operating, just at a reduced capacity.
We are aiming to strike a delicate balance between meeting the needs of our subscriber and digital customers while also reducing the burden on our partners in the direct market. Our goal here is to make sure that the direct market is not left out of our core titles while also maintaining a steady stream of content and material for our other audiences – as well as keeping our own business needs and operational requirements in mind.
As many of you know, Archie is a unique publisher in that we serve a number of channels. We will update our comic shop partners each week with any new information and are taking a close look at what we can move into the later part of the year to lessen the stress on comic shops during the pandemic, and to ensure notable releases for when things return to some semblance of normal.
Please be safe and stay healthy. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or suggestions on how we can help you through these difficult times. This is a conversation and we want to remain in contact with you.