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SDCC 2020: Comic Shops, Persevering Through Crisis

It’s established fact by now that comics were among the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A lot had to do Diamond Distributors deciding to shut down during the pandemic, halting product distribution across the board. This meant that comic shops had to get creative to stay alive, stepping way outside their comfort zones to fight against closing down for good.

The SDCC@Home panel “Comic Shops: Persevering Through Crisis” took a deep look at all of this, at how certain shops managed to keep their heads above water and how they plan to continue operations while still in a state of crisis.

The panel was moderated by Ed Catto in conversation with Joe Field (Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff, Concord, CA), Marc Hammond (Aw Yeah Comics, Harrison, NY), Jeff Beck (East Side Mags Montclair, NJ), and Dr. Christina Blanche (Aw Yeah Comics, Muncie, IN). These are all comics shop owners and administrators that have adapted to the reality of the pandemic to continue selling comics.

So as not to spoil the panel discussion (which I highly recommend watching in its entirety), I will offer a few highlights and explain why I believe it deserves a watch.

“Persevering Through Crisis” takes its title to heart by diving straight into strategies and initiatives that proved successful to the comics shops represented during the shutdown. One thing seemed to be a common occurrence across the panelists’ experiences: customers stepped up to help keep their favorite stores open in a big way. Many of the stories shared on the panel emphasized the role dedicated customers played in keeping shops afloat by buying gift cards and back-issues.

Sales on the back-issues front gave some of these stores the idea of setting up live shows to sell books that were previously warehoused or stuck in the shelves. In the absence of traditional comic conventions, this allowed shops to make a profit otherwise made in these events by selling older product.

Other shops stuck to curbside pick-up in order to safeguard some of the community-building they had already done by turning their spaces into a meeting ground for a whole group of people sharing common interests. This was crucial for East Side Mags and Flying Colors Comics and they went lengths to get the point across throughout the panel.

One of the topics discussed in the “Comic Shops: Persevering Through Crisis” panel

There’s also an interesting discussion on the effects the DC/Diamond split had on the road to reopening. It was a controversial subject and it had no choice in being otherwise, but the panel discussed it professionally and put forward some good points. This segment was enticing enough to justify its own panel and the guests really opened the doors for further debate. I was glad no one succumbed to cryptic responses and lazy arguments.

The possibility of a second shutdown was also broached and the mood was one of caution but readiness. These shop owners truly came off as survivors with valuable information other stores would be wise to consider.

This is required viewing for comic shop owners. There was a lot said about the nuts and bolts of survival during a crisis. But the panel also provides a kind of behind the scenes look at comics retail that shows just how hard the men and women involved work to get us our comics. You’ll appreciate brick and mortar stores even more after watching this panel.

Click here to view the complete panel.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here and Fantastic Four is opening in the theaters! Who’s going to check out the film this weekend?

While you decide on that, here’s some news and reviews you might have missed from around the web.

Around the Tubes

ICv2 – July 2015 Bookscan – Top 20 Adult Graphic Novels – An interesting list of graphic novels.

iO9 – The 50 Most Cringe-Worthy Moments In Comic-Book Movie History – Agree? Disagree?

Bleeding Cool – Aw Yeah Comics Opens A New Store In New York – We’ll need to check it out.


Around the Tubes Reviews

The Outhousers – John Flood #1

SDCC 2015: comiXology Offers Print and Digital Variant

ComiXology will be bridging the print-digital divide at Comic-Con International (Booth #2547) this year with a new variant cover available each day at the show and available digitally for the duration of the show at comixology.com.

These special limited edition variants include Marvel ComicsA-Force #2 with cover by Siya Oum, Dynamite Entertainment’s The Spirit #1 with cover by Jenny Frison, BOOM! StudiosLumberjanes #15 with cover by Hope Larson, IDW Publishing’s Onyx #1 with cover by Gabriel Rodriguez, Valiant Entertainment’s X-O Manowar: Valiant 25th Anniversary Special #1 with cover art by Al Barrionuevo and a special comiXology Submit version of Aw Yeah Comics! #1 with cover by Faith Erin Hicks.

If you are at the Comic-Con International, stop by the comiXology booth (#2547) during the signing time to receive a signed copy of that day’s variant cover. Each physical variant giveaway is limited to 500 copies and is made available on a first come, first served basis. Variant signings will feature either the cover artist or key members of the creative team of each title, or both!

Not at the show? Then just go to comixology.com to purchase a special limited edition digital copy of that comic with the variant cover at the usual cover price. Digital versions will be made available the same day as the signing until the end of Comic-Con International – and never be made available again.

Here’s the signing information for each variant cover:

Wednesday, July 8th

7:00pm – 8:00pm  — Get IDW Publishing’s Onyx #1 with special cover by Gabriel Rodriguez with signing by Rodriguez and writer Chris Ryall.
Thursday, July 9th

1:00pm – 2:00pm  — Get BOOM! Studios’ Lumberjanes #15 with cover by Hope Larson with signing by Larson and co-creator Shannon Watters.


Friday, July 10th

1:00pm – 2:00pm  — Get Valiant’s X-O Manowar: Valiant 25th Anniversary Special #1 with cover art by Al Barrionuevo with signing by writer Robert Venditti.


Saturday, July 11th

1:00pm – 2:00pm  — Get Dynamite’s The Spirit #1 with cover by Jenny Frison with signing by creative team Matt Wagner, Dan Schkade, and Brennan Wagner.


4:00pm – 5:00pm  —  Get Marvel’s A-Force #2 with cover art by Siya Oum with signing by Siya Oum.


Sunday, July 12th

1:30pm – 2:30pm  — Get comiXology Submit’s Aw Yeah Comics! #1 with cover by Faith Erin Hicks with signing by Aw Yeah creators’ Art Baltazar and Franco.

Around the Tubes

Its new comic book day tomorrow, what’s everyone getting?

Around the Tubes

CBR – Kevin Keller’s First Kiss Turns Criticism Into Comics Awesome!

The Beat – Comics Alliance seems to be coming back! Nice.


Around the Tubes Reviews

The Beat – Amethyst #8

SciFi Now – The Authority: Volume 1

MTV Geek – Aw Yeah Comics #1

Talking Comics – The Dream Merchant #1

CBR – Fables #129

CBR – Fatale #14

Comic Vine – Red Sonja #1

Crave Online – Ten Grand #1