A Band-Aid For The Direct Comics Market, Under Coronavirus Pandemic

Yesterday, Bleeding Cool put forward a modest proposal on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic's effect on the direct market of the comic book industry in a world where printers have closed, distributors have closed and shopfronts have closed – and this could be the way of things for the next three months.

We proposed comic stores being able to sell digital download codes for their comic books, which can be read weekly as they are now, but can be redeemed against print comics when the current restrictions are lifted and the books are finally printed. As a way to keep cashflow, maintaining the collectors' mindset, and the general thrust of the comics market, albeit in a muted fashion. A sticking plaster, a band aid, a temporary solution, but a way to keep the lights on for publisher, creator and retailer alike. I also spoke to publisher, creator and retailers to get their response.

Retailer response was fairly negative, seeing such an idea as a way to shift print readers to digital. I disagreed, I saw this as a stopgap measure maintaining the print market, and similar to when Marvel adds digital codes to their print product — this would be adding print codes to their digital comics. But there was clear resistance. Publishers saw the bureaucracy of the process as overwhelming – and one asked what would happen to someone who bought the codes but whose store then went out of business? I had no answer. But what I also learned is that publishers had already been pursuing such a possibility, but met with retailer resistance. This, it seems, is not the way. And that it would be preferable for all publishers to put all published product on hold, print or digital, until the situation is sorted out. Which I get but… how many stores would be able to survive for three months? How many publishers? How many creators? Let's keep talking…

Bleeding Cool will keep reporting on what is actually happening with the coronavirus impact on the comics industry, as it comes to us.

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About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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