Movies & TV / Columns

The State of the Comic Book Industry Amid COVID-19

March 25, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Marvel DC Diamond

Welcome back! I’m Steve Gustafson and if you enjoy discussing anything comic book related, you’ve come to the right place. Each week we cover something in the industry and I always enjoy your input in the comment section below.

Previously on…

  
 
Last week we discussed our Thoughts on the Three Jokers. Here’s what some of you had to say:

BillyBlaze: “I actually google every few days news on the Three Jokers for the past 2 years… finally I get a release date. I am ready.”

Jacob York: “This is the one book that I’ve been waiting for since Rebirth. I’m stoked. High hopes. No pessimistic negativity in me for this one.”

El Atomico: “I loved The Killing Joke, and just saw some kind of Anniversary Edition at Target yesterday. has anyone picked it up?”

Jeremiah Ashcroft: “So this was hinted years ago right before Rebirth and it has taken this long to come to pass. They’ve also said “It’s canon if you want it to be.” which to me means they refuse to make whatever they come up with definitively part of the Joker character.”

Thank you to everyone who commented! Too many comments and replies to list so you should check them out and join in the fun! This week we discuss…

The State of the Comic Book Industry

We’re in unprecedented times. Few industries have avoided being impacted as businesses scramble to make sense of this new reality we find ourselves in. 

The comic book world is no different. Following reports that Diamond Comics Distributor’s warehouses would no longer receive new product from printers for distribution starting in April, Diamond’s founder Steve Geppi issued an official statement. The full statement reads:

CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON DISTRIBUTION

As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.

Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.

EFFECTS ON DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS

Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. For the time being, however, we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, MS to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers. It’s unlikely that orders will be filled on the same day they are placed, and these plans are subject to change if at any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.

Product distributed by Diamond UK and slated for an on-sale date of March 25th or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. Further updates with regard to reorders and other Diamond UK-specific information will be communicated directly to their customers as information becomes available.

EFFECTS ON ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS

Product distributed by Alliance has been shipping from our Fort Wayne, IN and Austin, TX warehouses. Both are closing at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments. Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and will help you with any orders you’d like to place today or questions you may have.

OUR SHARED PATH FORWARD

With these changes in our distribution strategy, we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.

For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it’s likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you’ve already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.

Besides the industry’s most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don’t have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much.

As I mentioned in my last update, this industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my Leadership Team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect they will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support.

Thank You,

Steve Geppi
Chairman & CEO, Geppi Family Enterprises

So there you go. This was heavy to take in and when you think about the comic book stores that will be forced to close by this pandemic, it makes it that much sadder. 

On the other side of all this lies plenty of unknowns. The comic book industry has survived plenty of obstacles in the past but this time feels different. This time feels like one of the crossovers that promises to change everything. And not in a good way.
If you frequent a comic book store near you, and are able to, be sure to support them in any way you can. Use the comment section below to spread the word. 

Support your favorite artist, writer, inker, creative teams. Head over and find some webcomics to keep you entertained.

And by all means, be safe out there. 

That’s all the time I have. Check out our Comic Book Reviews tomorrow and see you next week!