Simply put: Wow. These are most definitely interesting times that we live in. COVID-19 has put the brakes on yet another normalcy of every day life – Comic Books.
IDW Publishing has announced that they will suspend publications starting with May 2020 in response to word that Diamond Comics Distributors will be halting the distribution of new comics. Below you’ll first find the official press release from Diamond, followed by that of IDW –
CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON DISTRIBUTION
“As everyone knows, the world faces ever-increasing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its effects on the comics & collectibles and tabletop gaming industries have been felt far and wide. We are hearing from thousands of retailers that they can no longer service their customers as they have in the past, many of them forced to close by government action or resort to in-person or curbside delivery. Even those still open are seeing reduced foot traffic in most cases, a situation that seems likely to worsen with time.
“Our publishing partners are also faced with numerous issues in their supply chain, working with creators, printers, and increasing uncertainty when it comes to the production and delivery of products for us to distribute. Our freight networks are feeling the strain and are already experiencing delays, while our distribution centers in New York, California, and Pennsylvania were all closed late last week. Our own home office in Maryland instituted a work from home policy, and experts say that we can expect further closures. Therefore, my only logical conclusion is to cease the distribution of new weekly product until there is greater clarity on the progress made toward stemming the spread of this disease.”
EFFECTS ON DIAMOND COMIC DISTRIBUTORS
“Product distributed by Diamond and slated for an on-sale date of April 1st or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. For the time being, however, we have been able to develop procedures with our teams at the distribution center in Olive Branch, MS to safely continue fulfillment of direct ship reorders for the retailers who are able to receive new product and need it to service their customers. It’s unlikely that orders will be filled on the same day they are placed, and these plans are subject to change if at any point we no longer feel that we can safeguard our teams while fulfilling orders.
“Product distributed by Diamond UK and slated for an on-sale date of March 25th or later will not be shipped to retailers until further notice. Further updates with regard to reorders and other Diamond UK-specific information will be communicated directly to their customers as information becomes available.”
EFFECTS ON ALLIANCE GAME DISTRIBUTORS
“Product distributed by Alliance has been shipping from our Fort Wayne, IN and Austin, TX warehouses. Both are closing at the end of the day on Tuesday, March 24th, in the interest of employee safety and to comply with direction from local governments. Any orders not shipped by that time will not be processed until further notice. Your dedicated sales team will still be working remotely and will help you with any orders you’d like to place today or questions you may have.”
OUR SHARED PATH FORWARD
“With these changes in our distribution strategy, we will work with our publishing partners to develop programs that will address product already in the pipeline and what will happen when we resume distribution. We know that during this time you will face many challenges, and we will direct our energies toward addressing them, rather than fighting on increasingly numerous fronts to get product out.
“For those retailers who remain open in various forms, I encourage you let loose your own creativity. For the time being, you will be able to replenish your perennials from Diamond and/or Alliance, but you should also remember the stock you already have in your stores. If your doors remain open, it’s likely you will have customers who will continue to seek diversion from events of the world. Special sales, promotions, and even eBay can help you bring in cash during this trying time. Product for which you’ve already paid may well hold some of your answers. There have been many solid suggestions offered about how to help our retailers, and we will bring many of them together in future communications.
“Besides the industry’s most immediate needs, we have been and will continue looking toward the future, when we see stores reopening, bringing staff back onboard, and getting customers in the door. We are looking at issues like debt accrued due to this crisis, what reduced ordering means for your discount tiers, and the availability of credit to help stores through and after this difficult time. We don’t have all those answers today, but we understand the many issues you are facing and look forward to addressing them as partners who all have an interest in the long-term health of the industry we love so much.
“As I mentioned in my last update, this industry has been one of the greatest joys of my life, from my days as a collector to a retailer to today. I and my Leadership Team have made these decisions knowing full-well the effect they will have on all of you, as well as our publishing partners and our own team members around the world. At the end of the day, the safety and security of our teams and yours, along with the many customers we all serve, is paramount. I again thank you for your ongoing patience and support.”
Chairman & CEO, Geppi Family Enterprises
To Our Partners Throughout the Comics Industry,
Last week, we sent out a statement to the comics community in which we pledged our support for the Direct Market during the current health and economic crisis. We’ve been keeping a very close eye on the public discussions taking place in forums and on social media, and the sentiment from retailers is abundantly clear:
It’s time to take action.
In light of Diamond’s statement today, our immediate steps to offer relief for our retail partners are:
·For the next three months, IDW will be offering 60-day no-fee returnable terms for all items on Final Order Cutoff (FOC) corresponding to the weekly on-sale dates from March 18th to June 24th.
·IDW is announcing the suspension of May releases corresponding to OSD dates from May 6th to May 27th.
·IDW will reduce its overall publishing line for products originally scheduled through July, with a focus on releasing our biggest projects in special editions to help drive traffic to stores through the summer.
With these measures, our hope is that we can lessen the immediate financial risk that retailers face for IDW products, and give retailers a much-needed break for their monthly budgets.
These are first steps. As the situation continues to unfold, we’re certain to initiate additional programs to help our retail partners. It’ll take insight from and coordination with shop owners, Diamond, and our publishing peers to shape a comprehensive strategy for the industry to move forward.
As a special note to our Creative Partners:
We know that you’re likewise feeling the pain of the current circumstances. Trimming our line through the summer in support of the Direct Market retailers will undoubtedly impact creative workflow for the short term. We fully appreciate the difficulty that this presents to freelancers. It’s our expectation that — in the long term — the Direct Market will bounce back as a result of these steps, and we can all continue the good work of making quality comics on the other side. Our Editorial team has been reaching out to creators and licensors with these latest updates, and we’re here to help in any way we can: answering your questions, listening to your ideas, etc.
The IDW team is committed to working with retailers and creators to get through the coming weeks and months. As I mentioned in our previous statement, we’re here to listen and help. We invite you to contact us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll field your questions as best as we can.
Wishing you health and security,
It goes without saying that we will all pull through this; It’s not a matter of if, but of when.
I’m looking forward to the day when this all blows over so that my son & I can high tail it over on to our local Comic Book Shop and pick up a few new books to read together!