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.
(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.)