US publisher Dark Horse Comics has announced a continued commitment to comics retailers in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, publishing a statement on the company’s social media channels 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, who have begun ceasing distribution of new comics.
While supporting retailers, the company is also clearly very aware that many of its customers will also find themselves short of cash and in lockdown in many US states and other countries, with stores closed, so they are currently running a 50 per cent sale on all its digital comics sold through its web site.
To all of our retail partners,
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. As I write this, the Coronavirus continues to threaten the health of our families and communities. With distributors shutting down or reducing capacity, retailers and printers closing their doors, and
increasingly stringent government rules, it has become challenging to conduct business as usual. We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone.
It is important that you know Dark Horse is committed to helping support your business through this trying time. It seems that market conditions change on a daily basis, which makes formulating a response difficult. While the details are still being worked out, are our initial action items:
We will immediately reduce our monthly output of both comics and graphic novels for the coming months.
Dark Horse will indefinitely offer 90-day fully returnable terms (affidavit) on all periodicals on Final Order Cutoff corresponding to the weekly on-sale dates.
Dark Horse will continue to explore a variety of options intended to help our retail partners. Updates will be coming.
I’ve been in this business for a long time and witnessed our industry weather many storms. This new threat takes us all into uncharted territory, but we will do our best to help you through it.
All the best,
On the matter of taking new comics digital the company made the following statement:
Digital Update March 26: We will not be releasing any comics digitally that are not also available in print. We still have collections, original graphic novels, and art books shipping through our bookstore distributor Penguin Random House (from whom comics retailers can also order). Those respective titles will be made available digitally the same day they are available from retailers.
Commenting on the statements on Bleeding Cool, industry commentator Jude Terror suggests the Dark Horse position may hark back to a decision the company made back in 2011, when digital comics were just on the verge of becoming popular. Then, Dark Horse attempted to release their comics digitally at the same time they were released in print, and to sell them for cheaper as well.
“The move, which would have been good for readers and probably good for the industry as a whole in terms of actually expanding readership through digital comics, caused a furore amongst retailers, he notes. “That backlash caused Dark Horse to reverse course, running away with its tail tucked between its legs while claiming that the price announcement was an error, and since then digital comics have been artificially priced the same as physical copies despite costing less to produce and distribute, solely to prevent them cannibalising the direct market.
“This time around, Dark Horse isn’t even trying it. Will Marvel and DC make the same pledge?”