We round up here a day’s events in the comics Biz in the unfolding Coronavirus Crisis of 2020.

Image Comics, which yesterday announced that it would take returns on the next three Final Order Cut-off weeks (see "Image Taking Returns"), has now expanded that offer top include all titles that hit Final Order Cutoff through May 18.  The company is also cancelling non-essential releases including second printings and reprints, and looking at ways to reschedule and stagger the release of titles in the pipe.

And in an Open Letter to Publishers, Image Publisher Eric Stephenson called on other publishers with financial heft to take steps of their own to support comic stores, noting that "Image may be the third largest comics publisher in the United States, but percentage-wise that’s a long way from number two."

"With all due respect to our publishing peers, we urge you to enact similar measures that will help our retail partners get through these harrowing times," he wrote.

Comic retailer organization ComicsPRO published its own open letter, thanking former DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz for his column on ICv2 urging immediate action by comic publishers (see "Suggestions for Comic Publishers and Retailers on the Coronavirus Pandemic"), and making specific suggestions of their own, including:

  • Returnability of all comics and graphic novels shipped during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Extended terms.  This is especially necessary for the most vulnerable stores – the ones on COD.
  • No interest payments for back debt incurred during the crisis. Interest payments can cripple comic stores.
  • Temporarily raising the Discount Levels.  And making sure that reduced orders due to closings and reduced traffic don't affect these higher discount levels.  By lowering the product cost to retailers, we will have more monies to be able to weather the storm.
  • Publishers should limit output. Push major projects back.  Slow Everything Down.  Fewer titles mean less cost to retailers.
  • And the postponement of Free Comic Book Day by at least a month, a reopening of FOC on FCBD titles, extended terms for FCBD items, and the postponement of FCBD-related product launches.

In a letter to retailers, AfterShock Comics Publisher and Chief Creative Officer Joe Pruett announced that the company will delay new releases by at least four weeks, with a re-evaluation at a later date to determine if the delay should be extended.

And in a message from Geppi Family Enterprises President Stan Heidmann, and in the ComicsPro message, comic retailers were reminded of the existence of the Forge Fund, an initiative of the Book Industry Charitable Foundation funded by an initial donation from Lion Forge CEO David Steward II (see "Lion Forge Donates $100K to Begin the Forge Fund to Help Comic Retailers") to help comic retailers in need.

Heidmann also announced that GFE headquarters staff, including Diamond Comic Distributors customer service reps, had begun working from home and urged customers to use email for primary communication.