The comic book business is currently experiencing printing delays, as well as paper, printing time, and distribution difficulties, while demand for print volumes has surged. In light of this, Marvel Comics has officially stated that their Final Order Cut-Off Date would be increased from 23 days to 30 days. The method is usually referred to as FOC, and it was originally negotiated through a lawsuit filed by San Francisco shopkeeper Brian Hibbs. The strategy has allowed comic book businesses to boost or decrease their order numbers as the book’s release date approaches. Because direct market comics are typically non-returnable, this was beneficial to retailers.
Changing the deadline from 23 to 30 days will potentially make it more difficult for merchants to have reliable numbers that represent market demands. However, it will provide Marvel another week between the printing of the print run and its arrival in stores, and right now, one week will undoubtedly help Marvel while they transition to a new exclusive distributor, Penguin Random House.
Here’s the announcement from Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing, David Gabriel.
We are very excited to report that Penguin Random House’s first week of shipping comics for the 10/6 release is well on track. Furthermore, we are working closely with PRH to minimize the impact of the logistical and printer capacity issues facing the industry. To ensure you continue to receive reliable shipments, Marvel plans to increase the lead time between FOC dates and On Sale dates for most Marvel comics from 23 days to 30 days, adding an extra week to production to help mitigate any printing delays that may occur. These new earlier FOC dates will begin to apply for November titles going on sale 11/3, 11/10, and 11/17. Marvel will continue evaluating these production dates and share regular updates as needed.
For retailers, this seems to be a wash. Some FOC dates are coming in earlier, while others are seeing their print dates being pushed back. The forethought and planning to keep product on the shelf is what is most important here. DC Comics on the other hand has seemingly shrugged their shoulders at this situation indicating that they really don’t seem to care.
UPDATE: Aftershock is also pushing release dates out. Expect other publishers to follow suit.