Image Comics President Todd McFarlane shared some thoughts on the state of the comics industry in an exclusive interview yesterday to follow up on some comments he made last year as the pandemic was first threatening the distribution and retail channel.  At that time, McFarlane felt that the interruption in the availability of new comics might cause some fans to fall away from reading and collecting, and that publishers needed to take extraordinary measures to keep them engaged.

Instead, he observed, fan-oriented businesses ended up with record-setting sales, since consumers had fewer things to spend their money on.

"Today we have to ask a different question," he said.  "Whatever those results were from 2020, are they sustainable?  A lot of geek fan-related businesses did quite well.  People weren’t spending money on anything else.  Lifestyle got shifted.  People reallocated those dollars, and people who are fans of anything went to geek businesses and online.

"Did the industry perk up?  Yep.  In a big way?  Yes it did.  We had a great year, so did a lot of others in fandom.  So is it sustainable, or was it a false positive?  Now there are more demands on people’s budgets.  There will be a couple of other things competing for dollars.”

McFarlane suggested that a drop-off would not be unexpected after such an unusual situation.  "There should be a downturn, but hopefully not back to where it was in 2019.  Hopefully people will still prioritize their geek interests.  It will be more interesting to measure where we are a year after the pandemic – then what’s the new reality?"

Asked if Image Comics is still committed to Diamond Comic Distributors as its sole distributor in the direct market, given that DC and Marvel have both found alternative distribution, McFarlane was unequivocal.

"Yes we are," he said.  "Diamond has advantages.  They have brands that no one else has.  I don't have any insight into their operations, but if I were running it, I'd capitalize on the other channels that DC and Marvel have opened with their new partners and come in right behind them.  If this were a couple years ago, I'd say to those bookstores and [mass market retailers] 'we have The Walking Dead, basis of the hit TV show.'  Today, they have other properties that will break out into the wider pop culture world.  They will still fit a need."

The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of