The Guardian looks at the comic book industry and how it handles massive disruptions in the economy. Marvel and DC will be fine (wait, DC is worth MORE than Marvel? Huh), but the shops that sell them and the distributors who get the product there are hurting. I have a somewhat faded connection to this whole world, in that from about 1980 to about 1985 I religiously collected X-Men comics (I bet a few of those babies are worth a penny now). I quit when everything started to be about multiple timelines and dimensions and resurrections of dead characters, but I’ve maintained a peripheral interest in what is happening in the more independent world since then, and my kids are now into the whole manga thing, so I’m sad they might not get to feel the newsprint-y paper between their fingers as stories move online.
And Marvel has cut its editorial staff by half, according to a source familiar with the situation. A Marvel spokesman said the company would not confirm numbers, but that all the cut staff were furloughed, not laid off, and the firm would continue providing health insurance “for the duration of the furlough period”. Bleeding Cool also reports that Marvel has stopped work on at least 20% of its forthcoming books. However, it is offering some discounts to publishers.
Ron Hill, owner of New York shop Jim Hanley’s Universe, says he appreciated some of the gestures, especially those of individuals such as Lee. But overall, he feels upset by the weak response of publishers to the pandemic. Hill, and retailers like him, don’t only need discounts; they need debt relief, and recognition that everyone – shops, distributors, studios – is now in the same boat. The faster that happens, he said, the better everyone’s chance of survival.
“This is beyond 2008, this is beyond the Great Depression,” Hill adds. “I’m just a guy who sells comic books but I feel like this is true up and down. How are we gonna do this? I’m reading that Macy’s is gonna go out of business, and AMC [movie theaters] is gonna go out of business. Why are we letting these places go out of business?”