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Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

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Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Old 03-19-20, 05:50 PM
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Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

https://www.bleedingcool.com/2020/03...nt-comic-shop/

Long article with lots of opinions and prognostication from retailers

The one from Brian Hibbs is particularly sobering...

"We are closed to walk-in trade, as mandated by the government. My expectation is that we are the "canary" on this, and such closures will go wider and wider over the next two weeks, possibly culminating in Martial Law. It's possible things could be shut down for months. Sales are radically off (duh), and even our aggressive attempts to setup curbside pickup, shipping, or pay-now-we'll-hold-your-books have yielded a tiny fraction of the income we need to remain viable without drastic intervention by the largest publishers. What we NEED is an immediate extension in everyone's sales terms by at least 30 days, and probably more like 90, as well as all shipments from 3/16 and later being fully returnable via affidavit. We need production of marginal material (15k or fewer copies might be a rational line?) to be paused or cancelled. And so on. Every Bleeding Cool reader should (RIGHT NOW, *before* things get further shut down!) set up a preorder list with their LOCAL comics store, because stores everywhere are starting to slash their non-returnable orders. Let your local store know you support them. Make no mistake: this is an extinction-level event for the Direct Market, but cool hands and firm leadership from the top could absolutely mitigate a significant portion of the damage, if not eliminate it outright. There is an amount of volume that, if lost, means that selling comics are therefore non-viable as a business. If the bottom third of stores goes away, the overwhelming majority of Marvel and DC comics will suddenly become deeply unprofitable, which could crush out the next third of stores. DC and Marvel need to be showing serious leadership right now. It's been 72 hours of silence instead."
I don't know if the comic book industry as we know it will survive. I think that most of the smaller publishers might end up going belly up. It's likely that a lot of stores will end up going away; Diamond and the larger publishers might survive by the grace of the larger mail order companies (DCBS, Mailordercomics, Mile High, Midtown, etc).

If physical stores don't have enough revenue to pay their bills and employees, they'll shut down. Then Diamond and the publishers will get hit with a lot of debt and a decrease in revenue. Marvel and DC will survive in some form; we might see a bigger push for publishing through Comixology.
Old 03-19-20, 07:50 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Yeah, I don't see how they survive. Even going mailorder is going to be tough to maintain. The only hope they have is some kind of stimulus package to keep the business afloat: basically fire everyone but yourself then get some stimulus and reopen and rehire when people start going out into the open again.

Even then, so many comic sales rely on that monthly drip, so people either find alternative means to get that drip (digital, mailorder) or stop altogether.
Old 03-20-20, 07:12 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

My LCS is doing curbside pickup, they have already have a big time eBay store, and before all this hit, were in the process of putting their entire store inventory online. Hoping all that will help them stay afloat.

Here is the most weve heard from DC

Old 03-20-20, 04:50 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Most small businesses are badly struggling with the entire country shut down. I know a local catering business that went from doing $25,000 a week to only $300 in the past week.

Reports indicate China is more or less back to business as usual after Covid19 hit them earlier than us, so there is a light at the end of this tunnel. If people still have jobs in a month, I expect things to rebound fairly quickly.
Old 03-23-20, 03:04 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

New rumor brewing - Diamond is no longer taking in new comics from publishers.

Bleeding Cool has been informed by multiple senior industry figures that Diamond Comic Distributors is requesting that no more product be shipped to any of its warehouse until further notice. Product already in its warehouses will be distributed, such that it can, but after that they will be distributing no more comics, magazine, books, toys, games, or any other product until further notice.
More at the link:
Diamond Comic Distributors No Longer Taking In New Comics
Old 03-23-20, 04:46 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Official https://www.bleedingcool.com/2020/03...ter-this-week/
Old 03-23-20, 05:34 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market


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Old 03-23-20, 07:31 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

What I've read isn't particularly clear, but I assume they are suspending operations until the pandemic blows over and not going out of business.

With a good chunk of the DM stores having to suspend operations or cut back, the likelihood that the printers will probably reduce their output or temporarily shut down, and the publishers probably suspending as well, there won't be any new product to ship out in the coming weeks anyway.
___
ETA: Reading Geppi's statement, and he does say that he plans on resuming operations in the future, but it's kind of buried in the text.
Old 03-23-20, 08:08 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
What I've read isn't particularly clear, but I assume they are suspending operations until the pandemic blows over and not going out of business.

With a good chunk of the DM stores having to suspend operations or cut back, the likelihood that the printers will probably reduce their output or temporarily shut down, and the publishers probably suspending as well, there won't be any new product to ship out in the coming weeks anyway.
___
ETA: Reading Geppi's statement, and he does say that he plans on resuming operations in the future, but it's kind of buried in the text.
Yes, Diamond is suspending operations until the pandemic is over. IDW and DC have followed suit. No word yet from Marvel. I don't think this is the end of the industry but it has already put many stores out of business in the past 2 weeks. There still too much money to be made here, so the direct market will come back, but we'll see how. Again, this is something affecting the entire world and every single industry, from Hollywood to Wall Street. I don't think print comics are over but like everything else, it will take some time to recover.
Old 03-23-20, 08:17 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

I agree this could be extinction level. So many stores live “paycheck to paycheck” that a month or two of no shipments will kill them. If even 20% of shops close that’ll hurt Diamond and the publishers and snowball. Combine that with more people learning to go digital, and pop, the system collapses. I hope not, and probably not, but this could be very very bad.
Old 03-23-20, 10:00 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

If the DM does collapse, I think the comics industry could survive by going digital for monthly comics, and then putting out hardcover and softcover collections of the material that would be distributed by bookstores, online retailers, and whatever b&m comic shops are left.

The comic stores that do survive would probably have to transition over into more pop culture/geek interest stores that carry toys, cards, clothing, and other pop culture ephemera to replace the new weekly comics, in addition to the TPBs and HCs.

The big question is whether or not there are enough people who would switch over to digital monthlies from print monthlies to amortize the costs of production. The industry has trained its customers to view every comic as a limited edition collectible that can increase in value over time; digital comics don't have this feature. Will there be enough (paying) comics readers to support the industry as it switches over to digital for monthlies? Even if enough people skip over the digital releases to wait for the HC and TPBs, it could put a crimp in the publishers' cash flow as people wait to buy their comics until after they're completed.

And even then, not everything will be able to support physical releases, as the flood of recent Marvel and DC superhero TPBs flooding Ollie's stores shows.

If the digital monthly/physical compilation model does take effect, we'll probably see a drastic reduction in the kind of material that gets released. I would expect fewer "family" titles (eg, the Batman family, the Superman family, Spider family, X family) and even fewer marginal titles (eg, stuff from indie publishers, Image titles that sell below a certain threshold, and a lot of the cheesecake books).

Stuff that's associated with a single creator that isn't over-franchised like Walking Dead (no longer published), Saga, Sandman/Vertigo, and books tied to a single creator like Hellboy, will probably do well under the new model, as they seem to thrive in bookstores.

Old 03-24-20, 01:41 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Marvel and DC would survive going all digital, only because their corporate overlords don't care about turning profits on low-margin comic books. They are idea factories for film, television and videogames. If 50% of the direct market disappears overnight, that would likely gut the industry to its core.

All this greatly depends on how long the government maintains the current status quo. It's foggy right now but I sincerely doubt this de facto quarantine lockdown lasts beyond May 1st. If people start believing treatments like hydroxychloroquinone are generally effective, they will tolerate more risk of infection and resume their lives.
Old 03-24-20, 09:11 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by PhantomStranger View Post
Marvel and DC would survive going all digital, only because their corporate overlords don't care about turning profits on low-margin comic books. They are idea factories for film, television and videogames. If 50% of the direct market disappears overnight, that would likely gut the industry to its core.

All this greatly depends on how long the government maintains the current status quo. It's foggy right now but I sincerely doubt this de facto quarantine lockdown lasts beyond May 1st. If people start believing treatments like hydroxychloroquinone are generally effective, they will tolerate more risk of infection and resume their lives.
If they start believing or if it actually works? I hope you mean the latter, but man who knows right now.

A lot of fans will not make the jump to digital. And you won't get new fans buying full priced digital either. So either they drastically change the pricing model if they go all digital AND do a ton of advertising, or only the most popular comics survive.

I love comixology as much as anyone else but it has traditionally always been harder on a digital marketplace to get things to stand out. Compare, for example, looking at products on a shelf at Target compared to searching for things on Amazon. It's great if you know exactly what you want, not so much if you want to peruse, which seems like a very important part of comic buying.
Old 03-24-20, 06:23 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

I suspect comixology loses Marvel and DC if the direct market is finished. Both companies would start their own digital businesses and cut Comixology out.
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Old 03-29-20, 08:25 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Local Comic Stores (LCS's) have been on life support for years well before the virus, so I can completely see how this pandemic will cause many of them to go out of business entirely.

I will completely admit to eschewing LCS's completely about 5 years ago. I got tired of dealing with their bullshit (as I've mentioned in other threads) and it also wasn't convenient to be driving to & from the store 2-3 times a month. It's a lot easier & cost-effective to order the Collected Editions (CE's) I want online, and have them delivered directly to my door. And, I probably buy more CE's now than I did when I went to LCS because I'm saving money (by not having to pay full price) and it's a lot easier to get the books due to not having to go & pick them up.

I'm no economist, but I suspect that CE's can still exist and make money even without LCS to distribute them at all. Even now, I believe a lot of collectors order online exclusively and don't even go to stores. I.e., I can easily see paper CE's still being produced - but in much lower #'s. However, what probably would suffer (if all LCS closed) are floppies, since I don't know if you can order these online as readily, or even if you would want to (the concern would be that they would easily bend while being shipped, etc.)

However, if I'm wrong (and I may very well be) and if comics go 100% digital and there are no more paper copies of anything, I'm quitting the hobby cold-turkey. I have 0 interest in digital comics & will not buy or read these.

Last edited by TheDude; 03-31-20 at 09:51 PM.
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Old 03-29-20, 09:12 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

The main thing about floppies going away is that by definition, Collected Editions no longer exist because there's nothing to collect. You'd just have graphic novels. It would be extremely hard for anything that isn't what the hardcore fanbase already gravitates towards (Bat books, spider books, etc.) to stand out or get published unless a huge name is attached to them.

I'm kind of a hypocrite because I too have avoided floppies for a long time now, but I think without them the comics industry is very, very different.
Old 03-29-20, 10:00 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
The main thing about floppies going away is that by definition, Collected Editions no longer exist because there's nothing to collect. You'd just have graphic novels. It would be extremely hard for anything that isn't what the hardcore fanbase already gravitates towards (Bat books, spider books, etc.) to stand out or get published unless a huge name is attached to them.
That depends. Yes, there are CE's out there that collect newer comics, and many collectors of these new series just trade-wait & don't get the floppies.

However, there are other collectors like me who only collect CE's that reprint issues from the 1960's - 1990's. I have 0 interest in any comics from 2000-on. So, if they stopped printing floppies tomorrow there are still a plethora of comics out there that still haven't been reprinted that I would want.

And, for those who like the 2000-on titles - there is still 20 years worth of material to reprint (that hasn't already been reprinted).

Last edited by TheDude; 03-29-20 at 10:06 PM.
Old 03-30-20, 07:13 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

I’ll never understand people saying they’ll quit the hobby if it’s only digital. So you’re a fan of paper instead of the actual story and art on it? I understand collector mentality, obviously, but the art is the thing.

The only negative on digital is that you can’t re-sell them. Your entire paper collection of 100,000 books in your multiple closets? I have them all on this iPad, where they look better, are slightly larger, will never fade or burn or get stolen, and I paid about 50 cents an issue.
Old 03-30-20, 07:55 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by fujishig View Post
The main thing about floppies going away is that by definition, Collected Editions no longer exist because there's nothing to collect. You'd just have graphic novels.
Presumably, going forward, the "floppies" would be published digitally, then collected into physical books.

The "original graphic novel" model is a tough nut to crack. The production costs get spread across the monthly comics over, say, six months. With the same content in an OGN, the creators and publishers will be working for six months without cash flow.

A lot of people sort of want to move onto this format, but when series do attempt to transition over, they're usually dead in the water with reduced output and reduced visibility. Sex (Image Comics) and Astro City tried to do this a couple of years ago, and, I think Sex put out one OGN after a couple of years, and I don't think an Astro City OGN ever materialized.

Originally Posted by TheDude View Post
T
However, there are other collectors like me who only collect CE's that reprint issues from the 1960's - 1990's. I have 0 interest in any comics from 2000-on. So, if they stopped printing floppies tomorrow there are still a plethora of comics out there that still haven't been reprinted that I would want.

And, for those who like the 2000-on titles - there is still 20 years worth of material to reprint (that hasn't already been reprinted).
it is good that there is interest in older material, but I don't know if it can stand on its own. I could almost see superhero comics at least acting in sort of a feedback loop, where if they stop publishing new material, interest in the reprints of older material will decline. I'm not sure if any creative industry can sustain itself by just regurgitating 20+ year old material.

It's like saying that the tv networks were going to stop producing new material and just show reruns of Starsky & Hutch, Moonlighting, and Family Ties. Most commercial-supported cable networks can make a model work where they trade in nostalgia for old tv shows and movies, and mix in a bit of new original programming, but if HBO were to stop making stuff like Westworld and just show twenty year-old movies and tv shows (they can rerun Dream On and First & Ten instead), their subscribers will plummet.
Old 03-30-20, 08:03 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I’ll never understand people saying they’ll quit the hobby if it’s only digital. So you’re a fan of paper instead of the actual story and art on it? I understand collector mentality, obviously, but the art is the thing.

The only negative on digital is that you can’t re-sell them. Your entire paper collection of 100,000 books in your multiple closets? I have them all on this iPad, where they look better, are slightly larger, will never fade or burn or get stolen, and I paid about 50 cents an issue.
Well, the other problem with digital is that you need an ipad or equivalent. I haven't touched a lot of my digital collection once the ipad I was using got this issue with displaying colors (I mainly read manga on it now). The other negative being that you don't really "own" them but then physical collections are also temporary for the most part and have storage costs.

Originally Posted by Josh-da-man View Post
Presumably, going forward, the "floppies" would be published digitally, then collected into physical books.

The "original graphic novel" model is a tough nut to crack. The production costs get spread across the monthly comics over, say, six months. With the same content in an OGN, the creators and publishers will be working for six months without cash flow.

A lot of people sort of want to move onto this format, but when series do attempt to transition over, they're usually dead in the water with reduced output and reduced visibility. Sex (Image Comics) and Astro City tried to do this a couple of years ago, and, I think Sex put out one OGN after a couple of years, and I don't think an Astro City OGN ever materialized.



it is good that there is interest in older material, but I don't know if it can stand on its own. I could almost see superhero comics at least acting in sort of a feedback loop, where if they stop publishing new material, interest in the reprints of older material will decline. I'm not sure if any creative industry can sustain itself by just regurgitating 20+ year old material.

It's like saying that the tv networks were going to stop producing new material and just show reruns of Starsky & Hutch, Moonlighting, and Family Ties. Most commercial-supported cable networks can make a model work where they trade in nostalgia for old tv shows and movies, and mix in a bit of new original programming, but if HBO were to stop making stuff like Westworld and just show twenty year-old movies and tv shows (they can rerun Dream On and First & Ten instead), their subscribers will plummet.
Agree on both fronts.

I don't think we can go to OGN unless the entire collectors mentality changes to go towards it as the new norm, and I think we lose a lot of people along the way. Also, publishers will have to give money up front to creators, which they would be hesitant to do unless they already have a track record of some kind. If we could even move to some kind of anthology setup that would work as well but that's failed time and time again. Basically you've trained people to buy Spider-man month in and month out to complete their collection, and that's the model they've stuck on, at times pure momentum when the creative juices just aren't there, to sustain them.

That is another reason why some won't transition to digital. You basically break the habit. I don't have a physical connection to my ongoing Spider-man collection, plus issue 5907 is going to be digitally available basically forever, if I really want to start back up again why not wait for a 99c sale or cheaper?

Another great example is cartoons. There are enough kids cartoons out there that you would never need to create another cartoon again and you could probably satisfy the vast majority of kids who are born. But it's a marketing machine, the whole concept of "new" is very valuable even if it doesn't matter much at that age.
Old 03-30-20, 08:41 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Just saw an ad from TKO Studios on Instagram.

Buy one of their packages of comics or TPBs, name a store, and they'll send 50% of the sale to that store.

Looks like it might be time for me to buy Ennis' and Epting's Sarah.
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Old 03-30-20, 06:13 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
Iíll never understand people saying theyíll quit the hobby if itís only digital. So youíre a fan of paper instead of the actual story and art on it? I understand collector mentality, obviously, but the art is the thing.
I tried digital awhile back when I was traveling for work in countries where comic stores weren't bountiful. I just couldn't do it. The connection wasn't the same. I actually lost interest in a few of the titles I was reading and ended up dropping them (tho that could have been the writing). I'm one of those guys who needs to own it and hold it while I read. If comics go full digital, I'll drop the monthly books but I'll continue to buy older (physical) books. And if I hear good things about a new digital comic, I'll pick up a trade collection IF one comes out. I won't quit the hobby but it'll certainly change my spending habits.


Old 03-31-20, 11:20 AM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Diamond might be in trouble:

Old 03-31-20, 05:04 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Let’s say Marvel has a 4 month gap in printing new comics. I’m curious what happens to the six month delay on Marvel Unlimited. I don’t see a subscription service not releasing new content for 4 months, but I doubt they would be ok with dropping the delay to 2 months. 4 months is a hypothetical right now, so it may become a moot point. Whatever the gap is, though, I have to wonder what the answer is.
Old 03-31-20, 05:16 PM
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Re: Coronavirus: An "Extinction Level Event" for the Direct Market

Many shops are upset with DC, who has already signaled they may sell physical comics directly if this situation goes on. This came at a terrible time for DC and the industry in general.

I do expect Trump and Congress to pass another round of helicopter money, directly aimed at propping up small businesses like comic book shops for several months.

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