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Image Comics Makes All New Comics Ordered Returnable – But Will Marvel Or DC?

Brian Hibbs, one of the leading comic book retailers in the direct market, co-founder of ComicsPRO and the man who created the Final Order Cut-Off system after a successful class lawsuit against Marvel Comics, is having new issues with the FOC this week. He posted on Facebook, regarding his Comix Experience chain in San Francisco.

San Francisco business is being shut down in the whole Bay Area, so I went to redo FOC for the week, right before the deadline.

I sent an email to my top five suppliers asking if they were going to be offer returnability on the other end of this — I have three weeks of orders in the pipeline, and zero ability to sell those books in a meaningful way.

Two of the five ignored me, the other two gave me really really dark answers and it is clear they are using each other as excuses, and only one, Image, stepped right up and said "Yep, returnable for now". It's probably only 80% of the reassurance I want, but at least it is something.

I CUT THE SH-T OUT OF MY NEW FOC ORDER — 20% nearly across the board, and several things cut 50% or more.

Thanks for the reassurance, folks!

Comis stores order well in advance – it used to be three-to-four months but of late they are now able to amend their order without restriction around a month before the product is released. Which means the following four weeks worth of stock was locked before the coronavirus restrictions came into play, leaving many stores vulnerable to the changing market.  Image Comics has told Hibbs that they will be making all new stock ordered by stores fully returnable.

That would be a massive hit for Image Comics if it's carried through – but it's the kind of thing that will keep many comic book retailers afloat. However, Image is only 5-10% of the market. Marvel and DC Comics make up around 75-80% right now. And with greater pockets and mightier media owners, there is a need for both to step up is the direct comics industry is going to survive this. Will it be Marvel or DC who blink first? When one does you can be guaranteed the other will too.

Image Comics Makes All New Comics Ordered Returnable - But Will Marvel Or DC?

UPDATE: Brian Hibbs adds the following:

Dear Amazing Comix Experience customer!

 The City of San Francisco has just announced a "shelter in place" order through April 7th, so accordingly, we will be closing the doors to walkup business.

 However, the unfortunate reality of being a small business (especially in an expensive place for retail like San Francisco!) is that we're largely a business that is dependent on cash flow, and so fully shutting down for three weeks or more will be a giant financial hit.  Comix Experience is committed to ensuring its excellent staff is ultimately paid their normal wages during this crisis.

 While we've always offered shipping, for at least until April 7th, we're going to make it free for all orders over $20.  We don't have a website with all of our inventory online, but we do have a modest online store built around our Graphic Novel Clubs which you can find here:

 If you call Divisadero St. at 415-863-9258 or Ocean Ave at 415-239-2669 we'd be happy to take a phone order.  Our expectation is that we'll have extremely limited hours for taking orders (expect Noon to 5 pm in a best case scenario through most of this, and it may not be that good) so you should also feel free to email or to arrange for you to be taken care of.

For this immediate Wednesday 4/18, both stores will be taking phone calls from 10 am, but the emails and a small bit of patience will probably be your best bet in this extraordinary situation.

We are also happy to offer curbside pickup.  Call or email us, and we be happy to arrange a convenient time for curbside pickup.

 For a list of what is being released this week, please look at

 If you'd like to support Comix Experience, a great way is to join our Graphic Novel Month Clubs: we curate an excellent graphic novel by staff vote each month, and then livestream a meeting and Q&A with the creator about their career and how art works.  You can find out more information about the club by visiting

 We also have kids club that operates much the same way, that you can find at

 We can also sell you a gift certificate in any amount you like!

 We appreciate your patronage, and your support of small business, and we very much look forward to serving you in whatever limited capacity we are able.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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