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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything about our lives – and the comics industry. Many local comic shops have been forced to close and go to mail order of curbside pick-up only – and both readers and publishers are really to help support local stores. As of this week, Diamond is no longer supplying new product to retailers, leaving many questions in the air, not only for whether or not we’ll be getting new comics, but how the direct market will survive the ongoing pandemic.

That’s why The Beat has collected an ongoing survey of how publishers are reacting to the crisis, which you can read below.

Of the publishers listed, 10 are providing return options for retailers with product on the shelves and a significantly reduced consumer base through the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are still silent on whether or not digital remains an avenue for publishing new content. Archie, Dark Horse and Dynamite have all said explicitly that, other than a few last singles here and there, the only digital comics available will be those that are also available in stores via mass market distributors. In a late night announcement, DC Comics said it would abstain from digital releases through April, while Marvel announced on the following morning that it would have no digital releases for the week of April 1.

In terms of novel strategies among publishers COVID-19 responses, Boom! stands out as providing free variants for retailers to sell, while several other publishers are providing free copies of #1s, or even full trades in Valiant’s case. Meanwhile, TKO takes the unique approach of providing retailers of a customer’s choice 50% of profit from online sales.

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On Tuesday, March 31, Diamond announced that it made the difficult decision “hold payments to vendors previously scheduled to release this week [April 1],” causing even more strife for the direct market. This will likely result in further publisher response, perhaps from DC which is considering a “multi-distributor model.”

Given the evolving nature of the situation, publishers’ responses to COVID-19 are highly subject to change. That’s why this article will be updated regularly.

UPDATE April 2:

  • DC clarifies that digital-first titles would not be the only ones available digitally going forward.
  • Image releases no new comics on the week of April 1.
  • Bad Idea comes forward with its strategies.

UPDATE April 5:

  • DC announces a donation to help comic retailers and their employees.
  • Marvel pauses production on a portion of its output.

UPDATE April 6: 

  • Yen Press reschedules its May – August books.
  • Kodansha Comics announces it will continue to release titles digitally and is shifting on sale dates for some upcoming books.
  • Silver Sprocket pauses new releases and reminds retailers of its returnability plan.

UPDATE April 8

  • Rebellion announces scheduled delays and continued distribution.
  • Humanoids reveals an updated release schedule.

UPDATE April 23:

  • DC and Oni Press pledge funds to the COMICBOOK UNITED FUND.
  • DC expands its digital first program.
  • ShortBox offers mini-grants to comic community creatives in need.

UPDATE April 30:

  • BOOM! Studios announces day one retailer support program.

UPDATE May 1: 

  • Marvel announced its return to single issues and its new release schedule.

UPDATE: May 26:

  • Vault expands its Vault Bound Initiative, taking away risk for retailers to stock shelves.

Aftershock Comics

Archie Comics

archie comics

  • Delaying all direct market releases scheduled to arrive in stores in late April.
  • Releasing comics digitally only in the cases of those that were too far along in physical production to be halted.
  • Will continue to produce and stock mass-market and digest titles stocked in grocery stores and newsstands.
  • Comics from March, April and May will be returnable.

Aspen Comics

AWA Studios

Bad Idea

Bad Idea
Bad Idea is at a unique point among publishers in the COVID-19 pandemic – in that it doesn’t even have books on shelves yet.

Boom! Studios

boom studios

Dark Horse

dark horse publisher covid-19

DC Comics

dc comics logo publishers covid
DC was the last of comic publishers to reveal its COVID-19 strategies.

Dynamite Entertainment

dynamite covid-19 relief

Humanoids

IDW Publishing

idw comics

 

Image Comics

image comics publisher covid-19
Image comics was the first publisher to announce COVID-19 support.

 

Kodansha Comics

Marvel

marvel logo

 

Oni Press/Lion Forge

oni press/lion forge

Rebellion

ShortBox

Silver Sprocket

  • Noted on April 6 that its entire catalog will always be 100% returnable for direct wholesale credit, which has always been so, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Announced that its new releases are on pause, but the back-catalog is available for direct wholesale from the publisher.

TKO Studios

tko studios

Valiant Entertainment

valiant

Vault Comics

vault comics logo

Yen Press

Follow all of the Beat’s coverage of the Coronavirus Pandemic Crisis here. And if you have news or tips or additions, please email us here. 

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