Normally at this time of the month, I’d write about upcoming new comics solicitations for books set to come out in several months—June in this case. However, I thought I’d put that on hold, given this week’s news: Diamond plans on halting shipments of all comics, trade paperbacks, and other material as of April 1, to last for an indefinite period. Like the shutdown of movie theaters and literally everything else in the past few weeks, it’s due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This basically means no single-issue paper comics will be available, which will be the first time in living memory, if not since the 1930s (when the modern comic book debuted). The World Trade Center attack, World War II, and other disasters still saw comics published and sold. It also likely means May and June’s solicitations will be either delayed or altered, thus my reluctance to write a June solicitations post.
Alternatives to no new singles: graphic novels and digital?
The online comics crowd have been discussing the ramifications of all of this. Traditional single-issue comic fans definitely aren’t pleased, with some worrying it’s the “death of comics.” Of course, that couldn’t be further from the truth… until the pandemic set in, comics have been on an upswing, but largely thanks to graphic novels and non-Big Two material. The traditional floppy hasn’t been the main or sole driver of the entire comics market in awhile, which is in my opinion a good thing.
That said, local comic shops are negatively affected by the current near-shutdown of retail. However, some shops now offer mail-order or curbside pickup for customers.
Some have also suggested comic shops rely on non-Diamond book distributor sources (the same ones regular bookstores use) to obtain graphic novels and trades. Relying less on Diamond/floppies is probably a good thing in the long run, though floppies do draw in steady Wednesday traffic. And no, I’m not sure whether this changes anything for Diamond/the direct market in the long run, after the worst of all this passes.
Another alternative’s switching to digital comics. DC and Marvel both have their own digital platforms they could release some comics on, in addition to Comixology. They could even reprint them later as print trade paperbacks… basically the same model as newspaper comics and webcomics. While not all fans are thrilled about digital, it’d be better than nothing, depending how long this Diamond shutdown lasts. It’d also keep some work coming in for some creators, who’re also hurt by the Diamond shutdown.