It’s been a while since anyone has heard anything from DC Comics, after the closure of Diamond Distribution and their printing facility.
Covid-19 has taken its toll on all thing comics, with no distribution for the big companies, creators being told to put their pencils down and comic shops closed, so things are looking bleak, as they are for every other business just now.
With Dan DiDio gone, and really still no official reason for his departure, the retail sector looked to Jim Lee for some kind of statement as to the short term future plans of the comics company, and finally, after long days of waiting, there was a release for the retailers.
It starts with the usual amiable well-wishing, before letting shops know that issues that do get shipped between March and June will be returnable. This is something that used to be a standard for the industry, comics you didn’t sell could be returned and credited to your account, but for years now comics have been nonreturnable. That’s why you see all those back issues of Tom King’s Batman still on the shelves. If you buy ’em and don’t sell ’em, you have to keep them or put them in your bargain bin.
Now the big news is that DC will be looking at a multi-distributor model to keep the books moving, in the hope they can get books printed and shipped as normal.
However, at this stage it looks like they may have moved a little too slowly to get things in place to help the comic shops.
With the shops closed and no end in sight to the closures, no new titles ready to go and nobody really taking the reigns at DC, it seems that it will still be a long time before we get any new books on shelves.
The actual devastation to the comic book industry over the crisis is going to have far-reaching consequences, even if they get the books out. It’s no surprise, despite what you may have read, that the whole comics industry was in a state of disrepair, even before the virus struck, and for a lot of shops, this could be the last straw.
It’s hard to maintain a business with no regular footfall, the comic book weekly distribution means that shops had a steady flow of traffic every Wednesday from customers with pull lists and readers just looking for new titles to pick up. Now that has gone, even if you could open your shop, there are only so many Funko Pops and back issues that people will buy, and it may not be enough to sustain a business.
However, I remain optimistic that as things progress there may be a time when the shops reopen and the comics hit the shelves again.
The comic shops and the fans are the real victims here and the answer could be to provide comics that people want to read and friendly shops where they can buy them.
Without that the industry will fail, and it needs to happen sooner than later.
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Louie Fecou reviews films, tv shows and comics for Ready Steady Cut, HC Movie Reviews and We Have A Hulk. He currently runs his own business in between watching films.