While there have been differences in how the channels for comics and graphic novels have fared over the past few months, the first half of 2020 has been an extraordinarily tough year by any measure.

The comic store channel has been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been a tougher environment for comic stores than for game stores or hybrids, with the complete shutdown of comic distribution for seven weeks in April and May one contributor.  Although some graphic novels flowed from book channel sources into comic stores in that period, and DC did set up alternate distribution to comic stores in May, there were few new releases of either comics or graphic novels in comic stores, which helped stores that were completely shut down avoid inventory buildup, but made it tougher for stores operating at some level to survive on reduced volume.

Comic stores have been scrambling to create or expand e-commerce opportunities, whether for shipping orders or for store pick-up or local delivery, with Diamond making databases available in Shopify-friendly formats a big help in that process.

Now that comic stores have been re-opening, some retailers are reporting a shortage of new product.  Marvel has been working its way through previously solicited product by alternating graphic novel and comic shipping weeks, and has also moved some titles to digital and cut variant cover programs.  Other publishers have also reduced output in a variety of ways, slowed releases, and generally avoided shipping big quantities into a channel that’s still or newly shut down in some places and functioning with various restrictions in many others.  All of those moves by publishers have kept sell-throughs high, which is good for cash flow, but are also making it hard to get back to normal volumes.

For charts of the top graphic novel properties in four categories, see:
Top Author Graphic Novel Franchises – Spring 2020
Top Kids Graphic Novel Franchises – Spring 2020
Top Manga Franchises – Spring 2020
Top Superhero Graphic Novel Franchises – Spring 2020

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