Major Printing and Distribution Problems Hitting Comics Industry

Bleeding Cool has already been talking about the manga drought that hit the comics industry this year and is still affecting the ability of comic stores and book stores to get manga stock, printed in East Asia, into shops. As demand for comic books of all descriptions has increased over the pandemic, unfortunately, the ability to print and distribute comic books has been hampered.

Bleeding Cool understands that many comics publishers have received calls stating that they cannot print new collections, large format books, or special items this year. That the numbers being requested to be printed need to be reduced, and release dates need to be pushed back further. One publisher told Bleeding Cool that they feel like they are a month or so from such restrictions having an impact on saddle-stitched books (standard comic books with staples). Bleeding Cool is also being told that printing plants that have never printed comics before are being roped in to help. Indeed, we heard this morning that several publishers were told that books that were meant to print this week just lost their press time. Expect more delays to be announced. One publisher told Bleeding Cool that collections are taking weeks longer than usual and all their hardcovers have been pushed till next year. Another told us that there are definitely supply chain issues across the publishing industry but that North American printing is largely being impacted by paper and labor shortages. And that overseas printing (primarily Asia) is being impacted by shipping and port delays. However, all of this is being exacerbated by increased demand, which is often spiking right before the order goes to print, making it harder to forecast what the market and customers are going to need. I am advised that how different publishers' release schedules will be impacted will depend on their relationships with their print partners and volume of business. Image Comics representatives, for example, have informed me they have no such printing issues. But I am told that as release schedules shift across the industry, to expect backlist items to go out of stock as frontlist print jobs are prioritized over reprints. And that it's a pretty rapidly developing situation.

Major Printing and Distribution Problems Hitting Comics Industry
Public Domain comics printing image by George Hodan

Bad Idea Comics just issued the following note "Due to the ongoing labor and paper shortages in the printing industry, Bad Idea is taking the preemptive measure of moving the Monster Kill Squad #2-4 release dates from the first week of the month to the second week. Issue #2 will now arrive Wednesday, October 13th, issue #3 will arrive Wednesday, November 10th and issue #4 will arrive Wednesday, December 8th. We anticipate that this will not be the last release affected by the ongoing crisis facing the printing industry and will share updates on future changes as we have them."

DC Comics continues to issue its own warnings and reworked schedules saying "DC faces an unprecedented strain on the global supply chain, affecting all of us in the comics industry and beyond. Up to this point, we've been able to keep delays and shortages to a minimum, but with recent notifications about covid-related port closures, international and domestic freight delays, workforce shortages, and a severely allocated paper supply, we are unable to continue to manage this situation without disruption… Please know that we are doing everything we can to keep a steady supply of product coming through the system until the supply chain strain begins to ease, but based on current industry feedback, this situation is likely to continue for several more months."

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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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