Alterna Comics have had a longer history than most of you probably know.
Peter Simeti, the publisher of the indie newsprint company, has been printing comics for everyone for over a decade now and has slowly built a large readership with titles such as The Chair, a mini-series that was made into a film, horror titles such as Trespasser and Doppelganger, sci-fi sagas like Exilium, all-age titles such as Mr. Crypt and thrillers like Midnight Mystery.
Although often plagued by online controversy, it is hard not to be engaged by the comics, that feature trade dress that resembles 90’s Marvel Comics and printed on newsprint that allows them to sell at an incredibly low price point, between 99 cents and $1.99 for anthology titles.
The quality of the creative teams involved varies from book to book, but it has certainly a large range of stories on offer.
As expected, the sudden closure of Diamond Distribution, the main distributor of comics worldwide, hit the comics industry hard and fast, with the last batch of new comics being distributed to comic shops at the end of March.
This led to no new comics being printed, as there was no way to distribute them, and no shops open to sell them.
The situation has continued and Alterna has had enough.
Publisher Peter Simeti has set up his own distribution center, Alterna Access, and is already taking orders from shops looking for new comics to sell to customers desperate for new material.
On Twitter, a post from Simeti says, “26 shops have signed up for direct ordering over the past two days since we stepped away from Diamond.”
Alterna has already been able to offer comics sent directly to the reader, so it would have been a natural progression to offer a distribution system for comic shops which begs the question, who will be next?
If Diamond cannot fulfill orders, then perhaps the larger comic companies need to find another way to get the comics out there.
Although shops are closed, many outlets offer subscription-style services for customers, sending the books out to customers that have pull lists.
Instead of the customer going to the shop, they could be posted out to them, if the shops have the product. This could keep revenue coming into the business, and more importantly keep customers engaged with their local shop, so when the crisis has passed, they would have retained engagement with the hobby and the business.
As things stand, there is a danger that people will seek out their entertainment in other media, and with shop closures looking to continue for many more weeks, that could prove dangerous for many small businesses.
Another form of distribution may be the key to saving the comics industry but they have to move quickly before there are more shops closed permanently, and readers move on.
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