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Should Comics Publishers Keep Publishing by Digital or Mail Order?

Leading comic book retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California, has called on comic book publishers to suspend publication and not replace print distribution with spotty distribution to stores still open or doing mail-order, or switch to digital publication. Rebellion Publishing has already talked about continuing publication through subscription and digital. Field writes in an open letter sent to publishers and retailers alike.

flying colors

Diamond will not be distributing new product as of the 4/1 ship date. That much we know. What we don't know yet are what actions publishers will take in light of this? I strongly encourage you all to stop publishing for the time being. That means no new print, no new digital.

If publishers continue to publish online, the landscape of the comics specialty market will be radically different on the other side of COVID. With all the oddities of the comics specialty market, comic shop staff are still your front line for sales, for putting products into the hands of potential readers/buyers. Forcing fans to buy digitally rearranges the market in a way that will not be healthy for anyone.

It also occurs to me that with Diamond ceasing new product distribution through this pandemic, some publishers might find ways to direct shipments of new comics to big mail order players DCBS and Midtown as a way to keep some dollars coming it. In both cases, that would devalue your product in ways that are hard to measure right now. On top of that, it's is better than even money that shipping of "non-essential" material is likely to be strictly curtailed in the coming days/weeks.

On the other side of this mess we may also not have the robust summer convention season, either. Who knows what the large event business will look like in the future? Another reason you still NEED comic shops on the front lines.

Please STOP publishing. Pause in the same way every business has been asked to pause.
It's difficult to ask for help when it means less income in the short term for all of us, but it is the only way forward to a better more whole comics market on the other side of corona.

You can continue to follow the coronavirus pandemic impact on the comics industry with this Bleeding Cool tag.


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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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