Panini Comics UK have offered the vaguest of hints that their range of Marvel Collectors’ Editions are to return – the titles victim to the Pandemic earlier in the year and put on hiatus.
While Doctor Who Magazine, Spider-Man Magazine and Panini’s football magazine Strike-It have continued through 2020, with editorial staff largely working remotely, “Collectors’ Editions” titles such as Deadpool Unleashed, Marvel Legends and Essential X-Men went on hiatus in March and April.
Much to the dismay of regular readers and subscribers, these were victim to the closure of most WHSmith in the first national lockdown in response to COVID-19, the source of the bulk of their sales.
The publisher’s new DC Comics tie-in title Batman, was also launched in March, but only the first issue was published.
In the briefest of statements on the Panini Comics UK Facebook Page, the publisher has stated that they “will be unveiling our exciting new plans for the Collectors’ Editions in the coming months”.
The wording suggests the company are planning a relaunch of the range, but with a new national lockdown now looming, it seems unlikely much more news will be forthcoming until early 2021.
Fans will simply have to be patient, although British Marvelites may be a little miffed to learn that Panini Italy and Panini Spain have continued to published their tie-in comics through 2020.
“I’m guessing there are a lot of factors in play here,” notes Jon Carpenter, publisher of the Starlogged blog. “Lockdowns, staff on furlough, diminished high street footfall, lack of new movies to give regular sales bumps, the international view from Panini HQ, Marvel’s ability to keep supplying licencees with content during the New York lockdown, production (especially if other language editions are involved), printing and shipping overseas, the narrative nature of comics compared with magazines, subscriptions versus shop sales, retailer enthusiasm (especially WHSmith and their tendency to put copies behind counters… A problem now they are mostly self-service stores).
“And now, the uncertainty around Brexit and the costs and logistics of doing business in the UK (exchange rates, staff costs, overseas printing and potential headaches and delays around shipping printed comics into the UK in a timely fashion).
“Better now to wait and see what the market can sustain in terms of range, frequency and cover price and then reboot to fit,” he feels.
“It’s a shame the Collectors’ Editions aren’t more widely available, as I feel it’s putting a cap on their sale potential,” says Rob Kirby, author of the upcoming British Marvel book, From Cents to Pence. “I don’t think that it’s down to their US size, as in the past two years the supermarkets have stocked recent Panini Select collected books, released as film tie-ins. The Spider-Man magazine is also available in all supermarkets and many smaller independent newsagents/general stores too, so it’s immediately got that wider visibility, as does Doctor Who Magazine.”
While overall magazine subscription sales have increased exponentially for British publishers, title sales still benefit from a news stand presence, with newcomer publisher GetMyComics recently launching its new anthology title SHIFT – now on sale – at perhaps the most difficult of times, but cannily pushing a variety of subscription packages through both printed page and online promotion.
While the continued absence of many Panini Comics UK titles is understandably a source of concern to fans, it’s at least good news that their Marvel reprints are to return – although in what form, and when, remains dependent on a number of factors sadly beyond the publisher’s control.
Here at downthetubes we wish all the staff involved the very best at this difficult time, and look forward to learning more about the revival of the reprint collections in due course.
• You can buy back issues and Graphic Novels over at store.panini.co.uk where the publisher still offering free delivery