Image Comics has announced a series of actions they're taking to help comic book retailers in light of the growing COVID-19 (commonly known as coronavirus) pandemic.
Here is a letter sent out to retailers by Image, shared with the company's permission:
Dear Retailer Partners,
Image Comics seeks to promote and elevate the creative freedom that comes with creator-owned storytelling and some of the best comics in the industry and share with everyone these special books that inspire and entertain. We cannot accomplish this goal without the support and long-term stability of the Direct Market. As such, we are actively monitoring the conversations around government-mandated store closures and sales within the Direct Market and are active in conversations with Diamond regarding returnability, delayed billing, and potentially staggering the release of new product. We are fully aware of the impact a prolonged gap in business can have on local, independently-owned comic shops.
As the situation surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves we are following official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health officials, and the U.S. government. We understand that many retailers are taking similar measures for the safety of themselves, their staff, and their customers, too. As such, we are deeply sensitive to the immense economic strain these closures of non-essential businesses will put on comic shops everywhere.
We want to help.
To that end, here is what we have in motion so far:
ALL Image Comics product on FOC for Monday, March 16 and for the following FOCs through the end of the month will be fully returnable. Should the pandemic worsen and the closures continue, we will update you all on returnability in April.
Our marketing team is actively giving signal blasts to all social posts from Direct Market retailers who have announced mail subscription deliveries and curbside pickup.
We have sent an email alert to 80K+ consumers encouraging them to follow their local comic book stores on social media for updates on store hours, rescheduled events, and cleaning policies.
We are actively messaging to fans across all platforms to purchase their pullbox reserves and stock up on comics at their local shop for reading material during self-quarantine.
We are pushing for Diamond to extend delayed billing to stores.
We are listening to feedback and to your concerns and are monitoring emails from retailers. We are eager and invested in helping support you and your businesses.
“This is a difficult situation for everyone, and while we commend both retailers and consumers for putting their health and safety first, we don’t feel all the burden should be placed on the Direct Market,” said Eric Stephenson, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher at Image Comics. “We want stores to order with the confidence they’re not going to be stuck with stock they can’t sell, and we hope everyone recognizes the part we all can play by joining together to help one another weather this crisis.”
We stand with you during this uncertain and frightening time, and we share in the responsibility to support this medium we all love by supporting the local retailers who are the bedrock of our industry – absolutely essential businesses that drive the exposure of comic books to fans, readers, and collectors all over the world.
More information and communications to follow as the situation develops.
All the best,
The Image Comics Team