Comic book fans received a huge blow last week when they learned that a ton of their favorite series wouldn’t receive printed runs in the near future due to coronavirus concerns. That might be fine for those fans who have shifted to tablets and e-reader devices for their comics fix, but what about comics fans who not only want print versions, but also want to support their favorite local brick-and-mortar store?
This week, comics publishers responded by expressing solidarity with physical retail partners. For at least one week, Marvel, DC, and other major publishers will not launch new comics in print or on digital platforms.
On Tuesday, a bulletin sent by Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley to retail partners confirmed that its usual run of new Wednesday comic books would indeed not arrive in a physical format this Wednesday, April 1. No April Fool’s joke there; this is due to Diamond Distributors, the biggest American publisher of print comic books, canceling shipment for any comics with a publish date of April 1 or later “until further notice,” as per an announcement on March 23.
As a member of Diamond’s distribution network, Marvel Comics is affected, but the publisher has made the decision to side with affected brick-and-mortar stores by not letting digital users jump the line. After recognizing “notes, discussions, and the absolute resolve we have heard and seen” from comic book shops, Buckley flatly confirmed that “Marvel will also not be releasing any new comic book titles digitally on April 1.”
No other clarification was offered about if or when those titles may appear either in print shops or on digital platforms, and Buckley mentions “a fluid situation with details changing every day.”
Marvel, as it turns out, was last to the party about this decision. DC, Image, and other major publishers had already announced similar plans, albeit in quieter fashion—by leaving new comics issues with normal “April 1” dates out of their digital catalog updates for this week.
Marvel, DC, Image, and other major publishing brands already offered assurances to physical retail partners about logistical matters like book returns and refunds for the next few months.