Comics Lowdown: Standing behind retailers during the coronavirus

Plus: TCAF canceled, BookExpo postponed and more coronavirus news.

As the threat of the coronavirus continues to spread, and federal, state and local governments take action to try and stop it, “shelter in place” and social distancing orders inevitably harm small businesses, like comics retailers. Many retailers around the country have either closed up for a time or have moved to a mail order/”curbside pickup” system. In his weekly newsletter today, writer Cullen Bunn shared some tips for supprtoing your favorite shop during this time:

…SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP as much as you’re able. 

Running a comic book store can be difficult, even in the best of times. Right now, shops are taking a hit. The absolute last thing I want to see—as a reader, a fan, and a creator—is for comic book stores to disappear. It is vital that we all work together to support comic book stores as much as possible and help them get through the coming weeks. When comic book stores suffer, so does the comic book industry. A lot of stores are offering new services during this time of isolation and social-distancing. Some things you can do to help…

  • Inquiring about curbside pickup.
  • Inquiring about mail order or delivery options. 
  • Purchasing any books that are in your pull box.
  • Purchasing gift cards/gift certificates for upcoming birthdays, events, and holidays. 
  • Following your local comic shop on social media for updates on: curtailed hours of operation, events, special accommodations, and cleaning policy. 
  • Tagging your local comic shop on social media & posting photos of the comics you’ve purchased to read during self-quarantine and social distancing.

You can find a comic shop offering “safe services” during the pandemic by using this map from BOOM! Studios.

Image Comics, who issued a letter asking other publishers to help comics retailers during this crisis, also had Alex Cox, Skottie Young and Nate Piekos create a short comic on how fans can support their local shop:

IDW, Dynamite, Vault and Aftershock have also made efforts to help retailers during this time; you can find all their statements here. BOOM!’s statement can be found here. Marvel seems to be following a different tatic; find their statement here.

Retailing: Are comic shops essential businesses? At ICv2, Milton Griepp examines that question in light of GameStop’s claims that they are an essential business right now. (Although they’ve since announced plans to move to a curbside pick-up model, now that the big Animal Crossing release has passed).

Publishers: Former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz offers suggestions for both publishers and retailer during the pandemic.

Retailing: ComicsPro, the comics retailers trade organization, also offers some tips for retailers.

Crowdfunding: Mad Cave Studios has set up a gofundme page for comics retailers. “This fundraiser will provide a one-time donation to comic shops around the U.S. to help them keep employees on payroll, mitigate risk, and keep the lights on. We will be fulfilling requests for aid evenly across the comic book retailers that contact us directly with their information,” their campaign page reads.

Organizations: The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund offers some information on how businesses should comply with the “shelter in place” orders being implemented in parts of the U.S.

Digital comics: The comiXology Unlimited free trial period has been extended from 30 to 60 days for a limited time.

Publishers: 2000AD is giving away a 400-page volume of Judge Dredd Case Files for free.

Conventions + Events

Conventions: The Toronto Comic Arts Festival, or TCAF, is the latest event to be canceled as a result of the coronavirus. Originally scheduled for May 8-10, the organizers held out for as long as they could before making the call to cancel this year’s event. They also explained why they canceled the event versus trying to reschedule for later in the year, as many events have done.

“While other shows announced postponement rather than cancellation, at this time we’re not comfortable postponing because of the uncertainty around the duration of this pandemic,” their website reads. “In addition, there are now multiple open-ended government orders around international travel and cancelling large gatherings, and that makes any postponement or possible rescheduling impossible.”

They plan to refund table fees to exhibitors. All related events for that weekend in Toronto are canceled as well.

Conventions: The annual Book Expo America, UnBound and BookCon events have been pushed back from May to July — July 22-26, to be exact, the same weekend as Comic-Con International in San Diego. Many comics publishers and creators attend these events to promote their work to the book trade, so those new dates might mean some hard choices for publishers and creators. ReedPop, which puts on the events, said in a statement:

“Our hearts go out to our entire community, every individual person and business impacted by the COVID-19 virus, and all of you who rely on and look forward to this event each year. From authors who have had to cancel book tours, to bookstores who have made difficult and courageous choices to keep their customers and employees safe. We stand with you and we will do everything we can in the coming weeks to highlight your work, so that as a community we can come together and support you.”

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