The UK Guardian’s asking whether the industry as we know it will survive the Coronavirus pandemic, and they note that it’s hit Marvel pretty hard too:
The comics world is now split between many have-nots and two very prominent have-alls: DC Comics and Marvel Comics, subdivisions of massive publicly traded corporations Disney (Marvel) and AT&T (DC), worth $192bn and $224bn respectively. Though Marvel and DC have taken a hit from the pandemic, they’re still so big that professionals and retailers look to them not just for guidance, but also for relief. DC has donated $250,000 to a charity for bookshops, and, for the first time since the 1970s, is allowing retailers to return unsold comics. A spokeswoman said the company was also assessing new ways to distribute comics to shops for mail-order and kerbside pickup programmes. The Guardian has also seen an email from DC sent to shops last week, saying it will start distributing comics through three new companies – two of which are reportedly run by retailers that directly compete with the shops themselves.
And Marvel has cut its editorial staff by half, according to a source familiar with the situation. A Marvel spokesman said the company would not confirm numbers, but that all the cut staff were furloughed, not laid off, and the firm would continue providing health insurance “for the duration of the furlough period”. Bleeding Cool also reports that Marvel has stopped work on at least 20% of its forthcoming books. However, it is offering some discounts to publishers.
Any chance the reduced number of editors includes the really bad ones, like Tom Brevoort and Alanna Smith? Maybe even Joe Quesada, though no longer an editor per se, is among the “furloughed” staff? Alas, chances are the really rotten apples are still there, and the books they work on still in publication, not among the 20 percent or so that was reduced in development, and Dan Slott’s books are still going too, no matter how bad a lot he is. If my assumptions are correct, and really bad books will continue, not the least being that brand new volume of the New Warriors, then they’re still wasting resources on the worst of politicized projects.
Ron Hill, owner of New York shop Jim Hanley’s Universe, says he appreciated some of the gestures, especially those of individuals such as Lee. But overall, he feels upset by the weak response of publishers to the pandemic. Hill, and retailers like him, don’t only need discounts; they need debt relief, and recognition that everyone – shops, distributors, studios – is now in the same boat. The faster that happens, he said, the better everyone’s chance of survival.
The best way to mend stuff is to make sure that, if we’re able to get past this whole pandemic without too many hurdles, they’ll retire the monthly pamphlet and make the shift to GN-only format as Jim Steranko figures will be the case going forward. And nobody should feel reluctant to appeal for what could be a positive direction. However, this does hint few of the steps publishers are taking actually avail the store managers. The way Marvel’s approached this certainly doesn’t seem caring.
Originally published here.