Diamond Comic Distributors is closed to new product. The big comics printers have shut their doors. And ComiXology doesn't digitally distribute print comics before their print-scheduled window (not by a few hours anyway). So what happens on Wednesday, April the First, traditionally New Comics Day? It's no joke.
The direct market of comics in North America is built on a weekly churn of single comics issues, and the industry is full of warnings about what happens when comics are late. People stop reading. Some of them don't come back.
All the big publishers are tied into exclusive contracts with Diamond. But of Diamond can't distribute those comics, does that break the contract? Can the publishers seek distribution elsewhere? With another printer brought in? Most comic book stores are shut down. But many of those will still be able to accept new comic books and would be able to sell them, some via mail order, some via curbside sales, some by delivery, some in person in states that haven't fully locked down.
But as comic book retailer Joe Field states, creating an unfair playing field, with some retailrs able to operate when others cannot, might do more to kill off comic book stores than not distributing them at all. A collapse of a large number of comic book stores may include enough debt to take down Diamond, And if Diamond goes down, they could take many publishers with them – and more comic stores as a result.
This seems to be a Catch-22 situation, A damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't dilemma. Either way, there is going to be a massive impact. So here is a thought, a tiny thought, feel free to dismiss it. Because I know that big-level meetings have been taking place over the last week, even as the groundwork shifts under everyone's feet and plans get rewritten on the fly. Maybe this can be a simple discussion point, feel free to tear it apart in the comments. I'm sure it will be one of many declarations on how to Save Comics today.
Vault Comics is doing a deal where, if you buy a gift card from your local comic store, they will send you digital copies of two new launch issues, well ahead of publication schedule. Well, what if comic book stores were allowed to sell digital codes to next Wednesday's comics? Maybe a day ahead of when ComiXology would have them? And, get this, when the comics are eventually shipped and distributed, readers could claim the physical copy as well. Marvel already includes digital codes to their print comics, allowing readers to redeem digital versions when they buy the print copy. This would reverse that. It would keep the weekly flow of comic books coming, it would keep giving retailers cash flow, it would keep comic book readers collecting and it would keep publishers and creators getting revenue too. It doesn't sound too foolish, does it?