How Comics Creators Are Helping Retailers In Light of COVID-19

Comic book writer Leah Williams is part of a group of comic book creators campaigning to help and support comic book stores struggiling to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. Caitlin Chappell over has expanded on what Williams and her colleagues are up to.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, comics retailers are struggling — and some creators have banded together to establish necessary resources.

As the world deals with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, states like California, New York and several others have mandated that non-essential businesses close their doors. This has resulted in some comic shops and bookstores having to temporarily close their doors. Meanwhile, Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s largest distributor of English language comics, announced it will cease taking new product as of next week. Many are concerned about how this will affect the future of the comics industry and some comics creators are working together to help in whatever ways they can.

This is uncharted area for retailers and customers, so grassroots efforts are more important than ever. Leah Williams, writer on X-Factor, Gwenpool Strikes Back and The Amazing Mary Jane, has posted about comic creators coming together in order to generate resources that will benefit readers and retailers during these trying times.

In this vein, Comics Pro Patrol, an organization of comic professionals working on crisis management, went public on Twitter last week. The group’s current priority is generating a global retail map that displays quarantined adaptive services from shops, as well as a standardized protocol customers can reference in order to help struggling stores. Some industry professionals featured include The Immortal Hulk writer Al Ewing, Original Sin artist Mike Deodato Jr. and BOOM! Studios VP Arune Singh.

Williams also provided an ever-growing map of stores offering curbside pick-up for those practicing social distancing, or shipping for those who either do not have an open shop near them or are staying indoors. Furthermore, Williams is promoting several opportunities through CBLDF, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, including e-commerce solutions for shops without online stores. CBLDF is also working to keep stores afloat with several resources including a remote retailing webinar on March 27 and information about financial aid.

Meanwhile, former IDW Publishing Editor-in-Chief Chris Ryall, who has also jumped on board William’s initial post, has mentioned in a tweet that discussions about issues in light of the pandemic are “non-stop” and “industry wide,” with several professionals with IDW have met up virtually to discuss the next steps in helping the comic community at large.

Prior to restrictions and temporary closures for retailers, the comic industry has already been hit hard by the novel coronavirus. Globally, conventions have been postponed or canceled, leading to artists who would’ve been featured there unable to sell their work directly to fans. In response, creators have banded together to create online alternatives, including a directory of the artists who would’ve been at these conventions.

While these are strange and stressful times for customers and retailers, the comic community has shown their support while creators have found ways to boost business for local and small stores as well as the industry at large. It’s these online resources that allow fans to continue to back creators, retailers and publishers while also practicing social distancing.

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Steve Galloway
Steve was 5 years old when he saw Star Wars for the first time during its first UK cinema release. He considers himself a first generation Star Wars fan and in his own words is a ‘Child of 77’.