Coronavirus Pandemic – Creator Resources and Free Comics!

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Image: Marvel
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Image: Marvel

Last Updated: Tuesday 7th April 2020

Latest updates: updated news items on US comic publisher plans, re-scheduled Marvel films and added information on the Twinkl Home Learning Hub for parents and teachers

This is a growing list of resources for creators, comic buyers and parents affected by the CoronaVirus Pandemic Lockdown in the UK – and is hopefully of interest beyond the UK. 

This page, which is being updated as and when possible, includes links to News Items about the comics industry in the face of the Pandemic; Digital Comics portal links; Kids Activity resources; and a section on both the status and plans of UK and US comic publishers plans for continued publishing 

Please let us know about any projects you’re running or offering using the feedback form at the bottom of this page – thank you. We’ll try to add them as soon as possible!

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC – NEWS ITEMS

Here at downthetubes we are posting items and resource news using the hashtag Coronavirus-pandemic

Our regularly updated list of UK and Irish comics events – many postponed or cancelled due to the Pandemic – is here

• The team at Bleeding Cool are posting Coronavirus Pandemic related items about how it is impacting the international comics industry, particularly the US comics industry under the hashtag #coronavirus

• Coronavirus-related items on the Tripwire Magazine web site here

• Purely on a whim, #ComicsAndQuarantine was created by PREVIEWSworld to funnel the conversation around comics under one hashtag. “We threw it out there, and the results have been amusing, informative, and supportive,” said the team before Diamond shuttered its service for now and began lay offs. “Creators, fans, and comic shops took to the hashtag to keep each other updated on what they are reading, what they are working on, and how to get their titles during this strange moment in time. See for yourself here

COMIC CREATOR RESOURCES

• Britain’s Arts Council is making £160 million of emergency funding available for those organisations and individuals who will need it during this crisis, and they have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently in receipt of their funding.

The Council want to support artists, creative practitioners and freelancers as best they can in this crisis and are making £20 million of financial support available to individuals, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months. Find out more here

• America’s Comic Book League Defense Fund has hub of resources for creators impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic. It’s very US-led but still very useful

• ComicHub Provides Discounts & Support for CBLDF Retail Members

Comic stores need e-commerce solutions now, so ComicHub is extending an offer for discounts and free installation to help CBLDF Retail Members get up and running. ComicHub is a point of sale system designed explicitly for comic shops. It allows stores to quickly create an online store comprised of their inventory. The store’s customers can update their pull lists, make requests, browse stock, and make orders directly on the site.

In response to the crisis, ComicHub is waiving the install fee for all CBLDF Retail Members and reducing the monthly fee to $100 for the first six months. Enquiries about the system can be directed to stu.colson@comichub.com.

Join CBLDF here

• Tuesday 7th April 2020: In the United States, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation is shaping up as the key non-profit collecting and disbursing relief funds for comic stores, bookstores, and their employees.  DC Comics was the latest big donor, announcing a donation of $250,000 to Binc to support comic book retailers and their employees in an email to retailers. 

Crows Confusion over Covid-19. Photo-Toon by John Freeman
Photo-Toon by John Freeman

BUYING COMICS

On Wednesday 1st April 2020, it was announced that due to the Diamond Comic Distributors shutdown, the US comics publishers and others will use ComicHub to give readers access to digital books, with print copies to follow. Within the next two weeks, you’ll be able to buy a physical comic from your Local Comic Shop  – anywhere on Earth – online. You’ll be able to read a digital copy the minute you buy it. Your LCS will get a free physical copy to give to you later.

The distribution plan has been reported here by Bleeding Cool, and here by CBR.com.

ComicHub offers a suite of tools, encompassing the customer app, customer website, publisher portal, creator portal, retailer Point of Sale, retailer eCommerce websites, publisher and retailer marketing tools and this ComicHub product directory all seamlessly integrate to ensure the print comic industry continues to thrive in the digital era.

BUYING COMICS IN THE UK

As of Wednesday 25th March 2020, newsagents and supermarkets remain open in the UK for the purchase of food – and comics published in the UK, which include many magazines and comic-magazines for children, plus 2000AD, Beano, Commando, ComicScene Magazine, Doctor Who Magazine, The Phoenix, Judge Dredd Megazine, and Panini’s Marvel Collectors Editions and more.

Comic publishers continue to offer mail order and subscription services, and many titles are available digitally.

WH Smith initially closed around 60 per cent of its shops after the Prime Minister ordered non-essential stores to shut due to the coronavirus outbreak. More have closed since, but those remaining open including Post Office branches and hospital stores so NHS staff can be supplied with food and drink. Branches in certain key travel locations including airports, some mainline stations and small towns are also being kept open.

2000AD publisher Rebellion has issued a statement indicating it planned to continue publishing, but its planned Best of 2000AD title launch has been delayed.

Titan Comics has not issued a statement about its plans but many of its London-based staff are furloughed until late April and its chain of Forbidden Planet stores is closed but its web store is still active. Collections are being distributed, including the upcoming third volume in the Life Is Strange Trilogy, due for release 21st April.

UK Comic Shops are however closed – but some are still offering Mail Order services. Sara Kenny is building a spreadsheet of comic shops offering mail order to keep sharing and encourage people to buy comics from comic shops. Let her know via Twitter by commenting on this thread if you are a comic shop offering Mail Order.

• Our British and Irish Comic Shop Map is here

If you have a pull list, subscription box, or items on hold at your local comic shop call, message your store owner. Arrange to get your stuff to keep income flowing for shops. Stores need the money right now and you’re going to need books to read.

US comics are no longer being distributed in the UK. Titles planned to be on sale in the UK on Wednesday 25th March 2020 will not be distributed here, but they will in the United States. Diamond ceases distribution of new comics in the US on 4th April. Please read the announcement about ComicHub‘s plan to give readers access to digital books, with print copies to follow, above

Comics Industry Collective Coronavirus Pandemic Map - Shops Running Mail Order

Entirely separate to our work here, Marvel Comics writer Leah Williams has assembled data about comic shops offering Coronavirus Pandemic-related services. It’s live here on the Comics Industry Collective web site and includes UK shops.

Use the map to check out all the comic shops that you can help right now. You can even search our entire directory of comic shops by location or service offer.

US COMICS: DISTRIBUTION NEWS

Read our news story, published 18th March, about how kerb side deliveries now impacted by lockdowns here. Comic shop owners are being asked what ways they are changing things up (like doing kerbside pickups, shipping, that kind of thing) or any other ways people can support their shop online or by phone. We’ll add links to her map when she posts it.

The Comic Book League Defense Fund has posted an article on “Remote Retailing: Sales Strategies for Stores Affected by a Shutdown” by Siena Fallon. They discussed these strategies and more during their Remote Retailing webinar which took place on Friday 27th March 2020

Art by Joe Quesada
Art by Joe Quesada

Diamond ceased physical comics distribution with final deliveries to US stores on 4th April and UK stores on 25th March 2020

Monday 6th April 2020: ICV2 reports Geppi Family Enterprises CEO Steve Geppi has sent a message to Diamond Comic Distributors suppliers laying out a delayed pay-out plan for the money it owes them, while Alliance Game Distributors suppliers are being contacted individually. The GFE companies told suppliers last week that they were suspending payments because they “were no long receiving consistent payments from our customers”.

• Monday 6th April 2020: ICV2 reported Barnes & Noble had closed approximately 500 of its 620 stores in the United States at this point in the coronavirus crisis, the remainder still open.  Kerbside pick-up is being offered at as many stores as possible. BN.com is also taking and shipping orders

• Sunday 5th April 2020: Bleeding Cool reported MyComicShopone of the largest online comic book stores in the world announced that it too will be suspending all new orders, as a result of shutdown orders in the state of Texas.

US PUBLISHER PLANS

Here’s what we know so far about US comic publishers plans now Diamond has announced its will cease physical comics distribution.

Bleeding Cool published a bullet point list of US comic publisher plans on 29th March 2020 here

• 1st April 2020: Marvel has published a list of comic shops still operating mail order and other services, mainly in the United States but indicated it would be updated. Retailers wanting their shop added could try commenting on the Twitter thread here.

• Saturday 4th April 2020: Newsarama reports Marvel Entertainment is “pausing” work on one-third of its planned May and June comics output.  Those issues come from 15 to 20% of Marvel’s titles, some of which were scheduled for twice-monthly release in May and June.  The move is being taken “to help spread the amount of publishing product over the coming weeks and months,” a Marvel spokesperson said. 

Bleeding Cool has reported that Marvel Comics has announced a significant increase to the retailer discount to help them get through the crisis, and that it was giving Diamond more generous payment terms. The company has a plan, but for now that appears to extend to to continuing to publishing digitally.

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Image: Marvel
Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. Image: Marvel

Marvel has picked a new date for the release of its Black Widow feature film to release on 6th November 2020, which has pushed the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 4 film slate back one slot.  That was the date originally scheduled for Eternals, which has been rescheduled to 12th February 2021.  Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has moved to 7th May 7 2021, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness to November 2021, and Thor: Love & Thunder to February 2022. 

• 1st April 2020: There have been various reports that while a number of comic book publishers have announced they are suspending publication, like Dark Horse or restricting publication like Archie Comics and Boom! Studios, physically and digitally, DC Comics are going to use multiple distribution options to get their comic books out in the world. physically and digitally. Which means a new printer, new distributors, venues that are still open and ComiXology/ Kindle.

DC ComicsComic Beat reported that DC Comics Editor in Chief Bob Harras has sent a positive letter to freelancers about the future of DC despite the Coronavirus Pandemic.

• 1st April 2020: Archie Comics issued a statement to retailers, stating intent to publish their 1st April titles as usual, in print and in digital and send them to subscribers or directly to retailers, including Sabrina: Something Wicked #1 and Cosmo the Mighty Martian #5, as well as Vampironica: New Blood #4 on the 15th April. Even if ordered directly, they can still be returned via Diamond. They will continue publishing their kids Digest titles but will suspend their other direct-market-focused comics for the foreseeable Coronavirus Pandemic shutdown.

• 1st April 2020: Boom Studios say no digital comics will be released until print distribution resumes, no single issue comic books will ship, but graphic novels and collections will be released through bookstore distribution. Full returnability through June. and a Retail Support Programme.

• 27th March 2020: Dark Horse Comics has  have ceased all direct market comics publications and announced its commitment to comic retailers for now, stating that for now, they will not release new comics digitally that are not already in print. They will continue to put out their collections, OGNs, and art books that go out to bookstores, but no single issue comics that would have otherwise been distributed through Diamond.

• 21st March 2020: Dynamite Entertainment has delayed titles, increased discountsmade books returnable but is publishing selected classic collections digitally.

• 2nd April 2020: The Edgar Rice Burroughs web site is still releasing new comics every week at www.edgarriceburroughs.com/comics – there are some free samples, too.

• 24th March 2020: Humanoids delayed all comic books for at least a month.

23rd March 2020: IDW Entertainment is adding delays to schedule, making comics returnable and stated they have a plan for supporting retailers through the reduction of books in the coming months.

• 17th March 2020: Image Comics has made all their books returnable, and is delaying and staggering their schedule.

27th March 2020: TKO plans to continue non-Diamond distribution to open stores or direct to customers but will give 50 per cent of direct customer sales to a nominated comic book store.

• 20th March 2020: Valiant Comics have told creators told to stop working until at least the end of July. No digital comics until print resumes.

• 27th March 2020: Vault Comics has announced a Local Comic Shop Gift Card Initiative to support still open retailers or those running Mail Order

DIGITAL COMICS PORTALS AND COMICS

Comixology is publishing digital editions of US comics, British comics and more | They offer a number of Free Comics here | Many titles on Comixology are also available through AmazonUK (Affiliate Link)

• For independent comics, Comichaus is a brilliant portal, run out of the UK. They have apps, too!

Fan The Flame Concepts LLC, an independent comic and graphic novel producer, has announced that Neymar Jr. Comics is making its entire library of more than 200 individual episodes across all titles available free to fans who are sequestered in their homes for the duration of the crisis.

Papercutz have very generously made a bunch of their comics collections for younger readers available to download free, including The Smurfs, Chloe the New Girl, and Dinosaur Explorerscheck them out here

SmackJeeves has some great online comics at www.smackjeeves.com

Taptastic has thousands of comic strips of every genre available to read for free at tapas.io

FREE INDEPENDENTLY-PUBLISHED DIGITAL COMICS

Please note some of these comic offers may be time limited

Crisis In Infinite Quarantine #1

Dave Sim, Benjamin Hobbs et al have created a free, Coronavirus special digital-first edition of Cerebus In Hell, dubbed Crisis In Infinite Quarantine #1. It’s available as a PDF here

ANTHOLOGY COMICS

100% Biodegradable Bundle

• Dave Hailwood has created a special Isolated Carnage bundle, which enables you to download all 23 digital issues of 100% Biodegradable (containing strips from the likes of Alan Grant, Alan Burrows, Stewart Moore, Dan Cornwell and many, many more) for free on Drivethru Comics

Lee Robson, along with collaborators Alfie Gallagher, Jim Lavery and Lord Brignos, have put up some of their comics work from Zarjaz and FutureQuake. As many of you will know, those are some top UK independent small press comics works, with a heavy 2000AD tilt (in fact the guys at 2000AD like them and some of the official writers and artists have been known to do the odd strip for the fanzines!). They have a collection of works available to download free here

Bryan Talbot, working with his official web site master James Robertson, has put together a downloadable version of all of the free comics published on his official site site over the years. Find out more here, or simply travel the web here to download the Bryan Talbot free comics compilation – CBR version or the Bryan Talbot free comics compilation PDF version.

ADVENTURE COMICS

• If you haven’t already grabbed a copy, there’s a free download of the Great War Dundee comic, which includes Pat Mills story, “Ragtime Solider“, available here

Commando and Dan Dare artist Keith Page is beavering away on a new Charlotte Corday adventure, one he began last year, which is being uploaded to the Charlotte Corday Facebook Page here | Find out more about the Charlotte Corday adventures here | There’s another adventure, “Witchcraft Street” to read for free here on Taptastic

Colin Mathieson is posting some of his adventure strips for free on his blog at Moment of Adventure Blog

Time Bomb Comics have a free digital preview edition of Flintlock #1 available through their website here

Westernoir - in Colour

Dave West and artist Gary Crutchley have been quietly posting a re-mastered version of their popular ongoing Westernoir series on SmackJeeves, re-coloured by Matt Soffe, who Accent UK (and other indie folks) have worked with for many years and he has of course, recently made a breakthrough with work on 2000AD and Heavy Metal. Dave talks about this new colour version a little in this blog post and the Westernoir online comic link is here on SmackJeeves.

SCIENCE FICTION

Ben Dickson and Tony Suleri have made all four volumes of their sci fi adventure Slumdroid (the story of a dilapidated android who stumbles upon a mystery in the shape of a woman with no memory of who she is) free to download for a limited time, the first volume available here | Volume Two | Volume Three | Volume Four

• You can read “Crucible” by John Freeman and Smuzz – “an SF adventures… with dwarves!” – here for free on Taptastic

HORROR

• Comic creator Mike Garley (Adventure Time, Wallace And Gromit, Kill Screen) has made his brilliantly entertaining horror series Samurai Slasher free to download from his Patreon site – strictly for 18 or over!

HUMOUR COMICS

Colin Bell and Neil Slorance‘s delightful Dungeon Fun and Pirate Fun is terrific for young readers and adults alike (or better still, read them together!), and the team have made both series free to download here. They have also made a Dungeon Fun Colouring Compendifun available to download free, too.

• Thanks to comic editor Rob Jones at Madius Comics, the hilarious comic anthology Papercuts and Inkstains is currently free to download on Payhip

Moose Kid Comics

Jamie Smart‘s marvellous anthology project, Moose Kids Comics, are still available free – an anthology of some terrific UK-based comics creators who made some issues to inspire children with quality comics fun. The two issues and the special include works from Jamie Smart, Sarah McIntyre, Mark Stafford, Steve Tillotson, Gary Northfield and many more – you can read them online or download them here. If your young readers have been enjoying works like Dogman or Bunny Vs Monkey, they will love these.

The Kaci Bell Mysteries by John Gatehouse & Dave Windett

Dave Windett has created a number of PDFs of his comics, such as Lazarus Lemming and The Kaci Bell Mysteries, some created with John Gatehouse, which are free to download here from MediaFire

RESOURCES AND COMICS FUN FOR KIDS!

• As a response to UK school closures, the National Literacy Trust has developed a comprehensive web portal for parents, to support them during the Coronavirus Pandemic. You’ll can access free reading and writing resources, audiobooks, videos, competitions and reading challenges. Every resource is available for free, although to access some you may need to create a free account. Check it out at literacytrust.org.uk/family-zone

• London’s Cartoon Museum, which is closed to visitors at present, will be putting a range of fun cartooning worksheets online at www.cartoonmuseum.org/learn

The Twinkl Home Learning Hub: Parent or teacher, at home or still in school, our Home Learning Hub has you covered during school closures. Each day you’ll find a new set of daily activities to get involved with. Qualified Twinkl teachers will provide book readings, live lessons, positive news updates and more. The hub brings you activities from its partners too, to help fill your days and offer some much-needed variety. Activities will be listed the day before – giving you enough time to get prepped and set up for the next day’s learning.

• Book publisher Barrington Stokes have pulled together all of their free resources that they offer all year round for kids, from reading guides to colouring in sheets, their Young Editors Scheme to author videos. There’s something for every age of reader and hopefully they can help you all to power through this uncertain time. We’ll also be sharing and supporting the #UnitedByBooks campaign on social media, where you’ll be able to check out even more teach from home help

Get Free Resources for Remote Learning with CBLDF

America’s CBLDF is committed to helping parents, educators, and students turn challenges into triumphs in remote learning situations. Check out all the free resources we have for you to help keep your kids interested and learning, including lesson plans and discussion guides for more than 50 graphic novels

• America’s Autism Parenting Magazine is providing a free resource oflockdown coping strategies as well as ways for Autism Families to deal with heightened anxieties as a result of the Coronavirus Pandemic

• The Beano is offering a wide range of Boredom Buster activities on www.beano.com

• Young Squaxx at home with you? Fear not, Earthlet, the 2000AD team have dug out an activity pack for you to do with your kids – or you can do it yourself if you’re bored!

• A chunk of Bigfoot Studios free paper toys are available to download and make if you’re looking for some fun lockdown activities and have printer, scissors and glue handy…

CBBC - Plastic Planet Marine Rescue

• It’s not comics, but comics writer and publisher Paul Goodenough headed up the team that created Plastic Planet Marine Rescue for CBBC – save the seas in the new Plastic Planet Marine Rescue game. Bubble pop your way to cleaner oceans and safer habitats for sea creatures like whales, dolphins and turtles!

• Harry Potter fan? Wizarding World of Harry Potter has launched its Harry Potter At Home hub, a free online collection of child-friendly activities, videos, puzzles, illustrations, quizzes, creative ideas, and more!

Grab this Batman by Dan McDaid to colour
Grab this Batman by Dan McDaid to colour

• Comic Artist Dan McDaid has uploaded a high resolution image of Batman to colour in here

Metaphrog have created an Activity Page on their website and it will be updated every week with more activities, using the hashtag #CreateWithMetaphrog on Twitter

They have also unveiled the first pages of their Bluebeard graphic novel (#BluebeardGN) which is still scheduled for release, and will be posting extracts every week. The book will be launched on 5th May 2020 on their social media channels with, hopefully, a little video, on Twitter @metaphrog | Facebook: @Metaphrog | Instagram: @metaphrog_art

FUN FOR KIDS – COMIC CREATOR RECOMMENDED BOOKS

• For those parents with children to keep occupied, Dave Hailwood has released a brand new Blank Comic Book For Creative Kids which is Dungeon Crawler themed, and massively reduced the price in the UK/US/EU (plus Canada and Japan). It contains 12 Dungeon Crawler characters for children to draw, plus almost 100 pages of blank comic panels to fill and costs £3.50/$4.49. Be aware that Amazon have already started issuing notices in various countries about shipping delays for all physical books, so it’s worth stocking up whilst you can!

Carlos Ezquerra‘s 2000AD and Judge Dredd Colouring Book print edition is now half price on AmazonUK here | If you want the PDF, it’s also half price from Millsverse: use the code COVID at checkout. There are free sample pages too

Marc Makes Comics You Tube Channel Promo

YOUTUBE CHANNELS

• Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic with some light relief in the form of something creative, comic creator and regular Lakes International Comic Art Festival guest Marc Jackson has set up a free online service offering cartoon art workshops and activities for families on YouTube. Supported by the Festival, you can find the Marc Makes Comics channel here | Read our news story here

An illustration from The Graveyard Book, art by Chris Riddell

Neil Gaiman offers videos of himself and others reading from his wonderful younger reader’s books Coraline and The Graveyard Book available free on Mouse Circus

Sarah McIntyre, the writer and illustrator of Grumpycorn, has also launched Drawing with Sarah. Get a taste of her book, learn how to draw Unicorn step by step, and discover how to let your drawing inspire a whole new story! Share your drawings on social media using #DrawingWithSarah! There are more free Grumpycorn activities at www.jabberworks.co.uk/grumpycorn

• Illustrator and cartoonist Tom Sparke has also launched a YouTube channel to help entertain and educate kids during the isolation periods we’re all enduring. Called Captain Fishbeard, it features drawing games, some of which can be done alone or with family and friends. Tom tells us the channel is suitable for ages five and up and would be perfect independently for seven years plus.

• American cartoonist Joe Wos has his HowtoToon YouTube Channel here

Resource to add? Please let us know!

With thanks to Joe Gordon and Dave Hailwood

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The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



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