I thought my last news piece, on comic stores having to find new ways to sell comics, would be the hardest news piece I had to write during the Covid-19 outbreak. I was wrong. Hardly any of those ideas will work now that Diamond Comic Distributors is suspending all shipments starting April 1st for the US. For Diamond UK customers, their shipments stop March 25th. This decision will mean the end for many stores—unless we continue to act.
The Announcement Suspending Comic Shipments from Diamond Comics Distributors
(Image: Superman #493, DC Comics)Every aspect of the geek community will feel the brunt of Diamond Comic Distributors suspending their operations. In his announcement, CEO Steve Geppi states:
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.
With no new comics coming in, stores have to rely on their back stock, which is impossible at the moment. People buy back stock comics while they browse the store. Right now, browsing isn’t an option. You can’t go into a shop and flip through comics, touching each of them as you go.
The Only Way Forward Is To Keep Buying Comics While Diamond Is Suspending New Ones
How? Well, this might be asking a lot of customers. Until Diamond Comics Distributors stops suspending new comics, keep paying for your pull list. Essentially, work it out with your comic retailer some kind of pre-pay agreement. If you think you might want backstock comics or trades, do some research first, then call your shop or go on their website. Have everything you need ready so you can make a purchase quickly, and ask if they can do curbside pickup.
And again, if you can, donate to Binc or other organizations helping shop owners.
The Digital Comic Divide
(Image: Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios)
While stores won’t have new comics, Comixology and Amazon will. As a reader, this might feel like good news, but the industry can’t survive on digital alone. They rely on shops too. You might decide to switch your monthlies to digital, waiting for Diamond Comics Distributors to stop suspending weekly shipments. However, consider other ways to buy print. Order some graphic novel trades. Look to places like InStockTrades for those Omnibuses you always wanted to read but never had the time to. Right now, we all have time to read that 1200 page Walt Simonson Mighty Thor Omnibus.
Comic shop owners, We would love to spotlight your store and the measures you are taking to keep yourself and your customers safe. Please reach out to me at Roman@ComicYears.Com if you want to set up an interview.
(Featured Image: Diamond Comics Distributors Logo)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.