The plight the comics industry finds itself in right now pales in comparison to the general plight we all find ourselves in right now. But hey, I’m a comics fan, so I worry about comics.
Part of my concern is of course selfish: I want to be able to keep buying and reading the comics I love. I want to go to comic cons. But I also worry about all the people who make their living in the comics industry: writers, artists, publishers, resellers, con organizers, and so on. Most of them are pretty good people, and most of them aren’t rich.
There’s quite a conundrum going on right now: publishers could, conceivably, continue releasing comics digitally while most of the comic stores are closed. But, if they do that, then fans will buy the digital copies from Comixology and the stores will lose that income. And some fans may never go back to the stores. But if the publishers hold off on any publishing, then they’ve got no money coming in at all. Meanwhile, Diamond isn’t shipping comics, accepting shipments from publishers, or paying vendors. So nobody can sell anything through Diamond.
ComicHub had a mildly interesting plan to allow fans to buy new comics online from their local shop and get advance digital copies of them, but that plan seems to have fizzled out. Marvel is now pausing work on a third of their upcoming releases. I’d expect DC to do something similar.
Comixology (owned by Amazon), meanwhile, is currently offering a two-month trial of Comixology Unlimited (which normally has a one-month trial). And Marvel (owned by Disney) is offering up some free stories on Marvel Unlimited, presumably hoping to snag a few new subscribers while comic shops are closed. I guess I have mixed feelings about this stuff. It bothers me that it might be only the very large companies that come through this thing in good shape. But, hey, we all have to make a living, and, well, I work for a pretty large company too.
John Jackson Miller wrote a great post on his blog giving some historical context and offering some hope for the future. It’s worth reading. Meanwhile, I just placed my April order with Westfield (for stuff shipping in June), so I guess I’m still optimistic that things will get back to “normal” at some point, and I’ll be able to buy and read good old-fashioned 32-page comics again at some point.