Comics Versus the Virus
It is a weird time to be a comics creator right now. The coronavirus has really impacted the industry, in possibly the worst way possible. In the 80-plus years of the industry, the closest they came to being destroyed was the comic book crash of the 1990s. This pandemic, the first to really affect the US since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, might be worse. Numerous states have ordered local comic shops to be closed as non-essential businesses. Numerous larger publishers are working from home. Some have even ordered their freelancers to put down their pencils. Earlier this week, Diamond, the sole comic-book distributor, said no new product will go out for the foreseeable future.
This is definitely a Dark Time for the industry, as a whole. Comic publishers can’t put out product. Creators, like myself, don’t see their stuff out on shelves or even see their income dwindle. Local comic shops sit shuttered, their owners not knowing if they can survive a shutdown with no end in sight. The printing presses sit silent worldwide as the virus rages on.
Perspective from the Trenches
I’m fortunate, as a creator, that my publisher distributes via mail order, not Diamond. Their printer also seems to be unaffected, for now. But that could change. Conventions I planned to table at now are big question marks, though. One convention I was hoping to get a table at didn’t get back to me before Governor Cuomo issued his emergency orders. Now, it is very unlikely that this convention will go on, as the museum it takes place in is closed indefinitely. A con I wanted to attend as a fan, Big Apple Comic Con, is postponed indefinitely as well. Other conventions are up in the air.
I am also a New Yorker, and we are the epicenter of this pandemic in the United States. A lot of us creators live here, and the comic book industry, for the most part, has been centered here. Until fairly recently, both DC and Marvel were headquartered here (DC moved to California in 2015). Marvel has its Upper Midtown HQ while Valiant is scrappy near the Garment District. Editors, writers, and artists nationwide are working from home, or in some cases not at all, as was the case for artists at Valiant.
Our local comic shops, ranging from mighty Midtown Comics to mom-and-pop shops, are feeling the pinch. Several are offering mail order and curbside service, but they are definitely feeling the crunch.
What You Can Do to Help Comics
There is hope in the darkness. Yours truly, for example, is in a group of creators, retailers, editors, and more trying to figure out ways to help each other and the industry. While we are still looking for ways to help save our industry in the long term, there are some things you can do in the meantime.
-Pick up your pull! You’d be surprised how many people just let their pull lists sit there, gathering dust. This usually means lost revenue for the comic shop. So order your pull by mail order or curbside service if you can!
-Order from your local comic shop. Many are still doing mail order, even if new books aren’t coming out. So take some time and order some trades you’ve been meaning to get!
-Order directly from creators. A lot of them have their online stores and own stock where they can send their books to you.
-Order from small publishers. If they still have stock, you can pick up from smaller indie publishers. They also offer digital versions; some even have sales going on. (And here’s where you can get my books.)
-Order digitally. Yes, it’s not the same as physical, but every little bit helps. ComiXology also has sales.
This is going to be a rough time, no question. But by working together, everyone can help our beloved comic book industry to survive in the Time of Coronavirus.
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