Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday's Headlines | What Is The Future of Comics?

With Monday’s announcement that Diamond Comic Distributors will be suspending delivery of new comics as of April 1, comic book retailers across the country are expecting to shut their doors.

And most believe publishers should not release content digitally until the direct market returns.

“I think this needs to be a pause for all comics, regardless of format — meaning no new comics for digital retailers either,” said Benn Ray, owner of Atomic Books in Baltimore, Md. “Otherwise it gives them an unfair advantage and makes any books stalled in the pipeline utterly unsellable, not to mention turning this into an opportunity to cut shops out altogether and get more folks to buy digital comics.”

“Digital release will keep the comic readers interested, but it won’t put any money in the shops that provide these collectibles and a source for parents to keep their kids off the iPads or computer 24/7,” said Luis Nieves, owner of Aegis Comics in Alaska. “Our customers, many of them eBay sellers, can no longer support their hobby by flipping a digital copy. The removal of the physical print copy disrupts this ‘geek echo system.’”

Ryan Seymore, owner of Comic Town in Columbus, Ohio, feels torn on whether publishers should release comics digitally while shops are unable to get new product.

“On one hand, material will still be getting into the hands of readers, which is good,” he said. “The downside is this may be the first step to phasing out hard copies all together. We need to keep readers interested and engaged at almost any cost.

“Both Marvel and DC have done digital-first comics then followed up with hard copies and have been successful to an extent with that. If they did something along those lines for the comics being discussed and offered to make them returnable or add some cool comic exclusive content to the hard copies, I feel like that would be really solid middle ground that would satisfy almost all parties,” he said.

As has already reported, Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics in Concord, Calif., believes that if publishers continue to produce digital comics while shops are closed, it will hurt comic book retailers.

But an option suggested by Ryan Higgins, owner of Comics Conspiracy in Sunnyvale, Calif., might allow physical shops to sell “codes” that would get readers a digital comic as well as a printed one, delivered later.