Diamond Comic Distributors closed a few weeks ago effectively meaning no comic shop will get any new American comic until Covid-19 is passed, which right now could be months, if not longer. This has caused a number of shops to say now they’re getting out the business while they can, while many others will struggle on but make no mistake, shops are going to close across the US and UK at an alarming rate in the weeks ahead.
I’ve seen a number of Tweets from people saying the industry won’t die and the medium will carry on, which is sort of true but the fact is the American industry has never taken a hit like this, ever. Yes, the whole ‘the industry is collapsing’ has been a thing for 70 years since the Wertham witch hunts of the 1950s but this is something which will change it forever.
In my lifetime there’s been a number of crashes, mainly small ones but the two largest are the 90s crash caused by the speculator boom which took out hundreds of shops, and also forced a number of people out of the industry full time, myself included. Then there was the 2008 crash off the back of the financial crash which ended up being short-lived thanks to the current bubble created by things like the Marvel films and ‘geek’ culture being so dominant.
And now we’ve got a generation who’ve known nothing but good times with the comics they want from the Big Two plus the wider dominance in media who may well fly the flag after this crisis is over, but the truth is the American and British industries are going to be drastically changed. People are losing their jobs, and potentially homes because of this so I find some of the debate from some painfully glib. Of course the medium will carry on, and the industry will continue in some shape or form but DC and Marvel will be even less adventurous than they are now. And yes, I fully expect a Marvel/DC crossover to have a massive cash injection into the industry at some point.
But even Image will be affected. Less cash flow means less support for new books, so again, they’ll be taking fewer risks so they’ll be a more cautious publishing side, while independent retailers could be rare as many only survive on the weekly new comics to get people in. There will be a good side as some of the shysters and conmen who’ve grown out of the ‘geek’ boom will go, so no more conventions calling themselves ‘comic cons’ that have nothing to do with comics.
Whatever comes out the other side will be a horrible period of readjustment which will lead to whatever the new normal is, but we can’t be glib or complacent or the industry won’t get back to anything like what it is now.