Looking Back | COVID and Comics

The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 a bumpy year for the comics industry.

Today we kick off a series that looks back at the biggest news trends of 2020, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the world of comics. Watch for more posts all this week.

COVID-19 was already on the radar when I attended C2E2 on the last weekend of February 2020, but it was still just a vague shadow in the distance. There were only a handful of cases in the U.S., but we knew more were coming. Some folks Tweeted that they wouldn’t be hugging or even shaking hands, but most people went ahead anyway, happy to see old friends after a long winter apart. The folks at McCormick Place put in extra hand sanitizer stations. And since China was already coming out the other side of their epidemic, I spoke to a couple of publishers about how the brief shutdown over there had affected their schedules. Like many of the 95,000 attendees, I roomed with friends I hadn’t seen in months, had lunch and dinner with more friends, attended panels in rooms that held 200 or more, and walked around the crowded convention floor.

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Sunday Comics | Two pandemics, giving thanks and worst-seller lists

Check out recent comics from Whit Taylor, Eleanor Davis, Josh Neufeld, Ben Katchor and Alejandro Bruzzese.

Here’s a round up of some of the best comics we’ve seen online recently. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below.

We’ll start this week with a new comic from Josh Neufeld, creator of A. D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, whose comics have also appeared everywhere from The Nib to the Boston Globe. He creates a comic for Journalist’s Resource on the topic of the day, COVID-19, titled “A tale of two pandemics: A nonfiction comic about historical racial health disparities.”

It highlights a recently released research article on racial health disparities and the spread of misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic and the 1918 influenza pandemic, spotlighting the three researchers who published the article.

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Comics Lowdown: Archie goes day-and-date on ComiXology Unlimited

Covid, ComiXology, and ‘Contradictions.’

Big news from Archie Comics, which this week began releasing all its comics on the ComiXology Unlimited service the day they come out. This is the first time a publisher, other than ComiXology itself, has put its comics on the all-you-can-read platform on the publication date. The Beat has a good piece putting this move into perspective, noting that Archie has been publishing fewer single-issue comics of late, and that these comics are also available day-and-date on the free (to the user) library service Hoopla.

IDW Entertainment has set up a new initiative within its Kids, Family, and YA division that will focus on developing original material for young readers. Erika Turner has been named senior editor of original content at IDW Publishing; she comes to IDW from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, where she was senior editor of their Versify imprint. On the IDW Entertainment side, Jeff Brustrom is the new vice president of kids, family, and animation, and Daniel Kendrick is the director of animation; both will work on developing animated properties.

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Sunday Comics | Award winners, bizarre cowboys and the Scarlet Witch

Check out recent comics from Alex de Campi, Dan Piraro, Kevin C. Pyle and more.

Here’s a round up of some of the best comics we’ve seen online recently. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below.

Comics writer/editor Alex de Campi declared Aug. 28 to be “Nice Day Wanda,” a day when only good things happen to Marvel’s Scarlet Witch. If you’re familiar with the Scarlet Witch’s comic book history, you know that things don’t always go well for her — she’s accidentally destroying the Avengers one day, eliminating mutants the next, finding out her kids aren’t real, watching her husband lose his feelings … #NiceDayWanda was long overdue. To celebrate, de Campi worked with several artist on short comics where “nothing bad happens to the Scarlet Witch.”

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Sunday Comics | Catacombs + COVID-19

Check out recent comics from Tom Gauld, Cullen Bunn, Eleanor Davis and more.

Here’s a round up of some of the best comics we’ve seen online recently. If we missed something, let us know in the comments below.

Once this whole pandemic thing is over, who do you plan to hug? The California Sunday Magazine has a few ideas from Eleanor Davis.

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New York Comic Con goes virtual for 2020

Just like everyone else.

As you probably expected, ReedPop has announced that they are canceling the in-person New York Comic Con and will hold a virtual event instead.

“We are thoroughly disappointed that we can’t gather together, in-person for the New York Comic Con we love to build and our fans love to revel in. We look forward to this weekend all year long, just like you, and with this being our 15th edition, we were particularly excited. I will miss walking up and down artist alley and seeing friends that I’ve made since we were in the basement at the Javits Center,” said Lance Fensterman, President of ReedPop, in a press release. “While this year will definitely be a different experience, we are going to look to bring the best and most engaging event to our fans, exhibitors and studios through our partnership with YouTube.”

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Comics Lowdown | IDW ‘has parted ways’ with Publisher Jud Meyers

Plus: How the pandemic has impacted Scholastic and VIZ Media, the ‘Thundarr the Barbarian’ comic that almost was and more!

IDW Publishing has “parted ways” with Jud Meyers, who they had named as their new publisher on July 22.

“IDW Publishing has parted ways with Jud Meyers and would like to thank everyone for their discretion,” the company said in a short statement. Meyers was named publisher after longtime publisher Chris Ryall departed the company, but was then placed on administrative leave a few days after the announcement.

Publishing: Publisher’s Weekly looks at Scholastic’s fourth-quarter and full year results for fiscal year 2020, which ended May 31 for the company. Not surprisingly, given the COVID-19 pandemic, they were down significantly compared to last year. Revenue was down $187 million, or almost 40%, leading to a 10% drop in their full-year revenue for FY20.

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Science comic ‘Planet DIVOC-91’ launches on Webtoon today

UK science organizations come together to fund a webcomic inspired by COVID-19.

Several UK-based scientific organizations have funded a new webcomic that debuted today on the webcomics platform Webtoon. Planet Divoc-19 is a nine-part series featuring the work of many different creators, including Charlie Adlard, Alex Paknadel, Hannah Berry, James Devlin, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, Elsa Charretier and more.

As you might have guessed if you held the title up to a mirror, Planet Divoc-19 is inspired by COVID-19 and is billed as a sci-fi satire.

“Although the topics we’re discussing in the series are incredibly serious, Planet Divoc-91 is full of humor and is occasionally ridiculous,” said Sara Kenney, who wrote the first chapter. “We’re aiming for more of a District 9 or The Good Place feel than, say, Star Trek.”

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Cartoonists confront the pandemic for a good cause in ‘Pandemix’

Dean Haspiel and Whitney Matheson spearhead an anthology benefiting the Hero Initiative.

Dean Haspiel and a group of cartoonists have used their downtime during the pandemic to create an anthology for a good cause.

Pandemix: Quarantine Comics in the Age of ‘Rona is a benefit anthology that’s raising money for the Hero Initiative. Haspiel is editing the book along with Whitney Matheson (USA Today’s Pop Candy blog), as well as contributing a story that features his character The Red Hook.

“When COVID-19 sparked a global pandemic and national quarantines, I worried about my creative colleagues,” Haspiel said. “Many of us lost freelance work, and the comic book industry shuttered for a while. But I felt compelled to rally cartoonists to confront the pandemic and make art out of it. Art that can help comic creators in need.”

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