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Some bad news to close out the first week without new single-issue comics for the foreseeable future. Newsarama is reporting that Marvel has placed work ‘on pause’ for 1/3rd of its publishing output scheduled for release in May and June. The pause will impact 15-20% of the publisher’s total line for those months, which amounts to 1/3rd of issue output when titles that double-ship are factored in. A spokesperson for Marvel told Newsarama that the pause is intended “to help spread the amount of publishing product over the coming weeks and months.”

The move makes a certain sense, given that there are, as of this writing, no plans to release new single-issue Marvel comics for the foreseeable future. Diamond is currently not receiving or distributing new titles to retailers, many of whom are closed or seeing reduced foot traffic as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week Marvel president Dan Buckley clarified earlier conflicting reports to say the publisher would also not be releasing titles digitally, at least for this past Wednesday, though they did keep their options open in regards to “longer-term plans.” According to Newsarama, Marvel has not revealed plans yet on when or how they plan to release the remaining 2/3rds of issues that will still be in production for May/June.

Despite the logic behind it, the pausing of work is a serious blow to the freelance creators working on those books that are being put on hold. Marvel currently releases around 100 single-issue comics a month, so that’s ~33 individual comics for which work is being put on hold. If each of those comics has a creative team of four-to-five creators, that’s roughly 132 to 165 people looking at either reduced or lost income for those two months. The Marvel spokesperson told Newsarama that creators would still be paid for work that’s already been completed, but that doesn’t particularly help them going forward. The recently-passed CARES Act does extend unemployment benefits to include freelancers and contractors, so at least those impacted creators aren’t entirely on their own.

Look for more on this story as it continues to develop.

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(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story stated that Marvel was pausing 1/3rd of their total publishing line, not 1/3rd of their output.)

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “roughly 132 to 165 people — now out of work for the foreseeable future”

    I don’t think this math really adds up, particularly since almost no writers, inkers, colorists or letterers work on a single book a month. I suppose by great misfortune some of these folks might have had all of their current assignments concentrated in the third of Marvel books that are being put on pause, but surely that won’t be the case for everyone.

    It is true that all of these folks will see a reduction in their paying gigs, and some artists may be out of a current paying gig entirely, which is unfortunate.

  2. Sort of a throwback to 1957, when Stan Lee (on Martin Goodman’s orders) laid off the entire staff after Marvel’s distributor went belly up. And the line was slashed to almost nothing.

    Marvel ran inventory for about a year in the few remaining titles, then gradually began using new material from a handful of freelancers (notably Kirby, Ditko, Heck and Ayers). It wasn’t until 1968 that Marvel was secure enough for a major expansion.

  3. This only highlights how ridiculous it is for Marvel to be producing 100 books a month. A hundred comics a month into a market where the #100 comics sells less than 20,000 copies?

    Mike

  4. I mean, I get it I guess. Even Disney can’t afford to just bleed money forever. But on the flip side, they’re owned by Disney! I was honestly hoping this might allow Marvel to get ahead on books, and we wouldn’t have to see, what, three artists within five issues on a title because the main artists would have more time to do the work before it was released. But alas it appears that won’t be the case. Crazy to imagine Marvel would ever care to have some visual continuity on their titles anymore. “The more the merrier!” Sigh.

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