As small businesses around the world are shutting their doors in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Image Comics Chief Creative Officer Eric Stephenson is calling for comic book publishers to implement potentially store-saving policies that will help local comic shops stay alive.
In an open letter published on Image’s website, Stephenson specifically laid out what Image Comics is doing to provide relief for comic shops during this unprecedented outbreak— like offering returns for any orders with an FOC over the next 60 days and staggering release dates so fewer comics come out during a potential lockdown.
While Stephenson did not single out any publisher by name, he did not-so-subtly allude to Marvel and DC, saying “Image may be the third-largest comics publisher in the United States, but percentage-wise, that’s a long way from number two. Despite reacting to the crisis facing our retail partners quickly and with the best of intentions, we are one publisher, and while many stores do rely on our books for their businesses, we are but a piece of the overall sales pie.”
As any comic book retailer will tell you, comics is a very niche industry with slim profit margins. Nobody opens a comic book shop because they want to make money, they do it because they just love comics. Much like many other businesses, local comic shops are going to take a scary financial hit during this pandemic. If customers and publishers alike don’t act to support these shops, the comics industry will face serious challenges.
Local comic shops are the life-blood of the comics industry, but they’re also staples of the comic community. The right comic shop is more than a place to pick up your pull — it’s a place you can go to just hang out and talk about random stuff with other nerds. If we lose our comics shops, we don’t just lose a place to get our books, we lose a place to belong. Hopefully, other publishers heed Image Comics’ call and do what they can to help comic retailers whether this storm. And if you’re able, pick up something extra at your local shop next time you’re in.