The COVID-19 pandemic and continued lockdown restrictions across Britain continue to impact publishers large and small, including Panini Comics UK, who have informed fans of their newsstand Marvel Collector Editions they will not resume publishing until the high street returns to normal.
Collectors’ Editions titles such as Deadpool Unleashed, Marvel Legends and Essential X-Men went on hiatus in March and April 2020, although the company continues to publish its graphic novel range, which is still available to buy through a number of online outlets.
As we previously reported,
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.
“We won’t be printing any Collectors’ Editions until the high street is back to normal trade,” an editorial spokesperson commented in response to a Marvel fan on its Facebook page.
“Our graphic novels go through different sales channels, which are still viable during lockdown (Amazon etc), so this is the only format we can keep going through these challenging times (we don’t have digital publishing rights).
“We are desperate to get our CEs back on sale, but have no info to release until the future of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown, is clearer – although we have been busy planning the way forward behind the scenes.
“Please bear with us (the editorial team), as it’s been difficult even to just publish these graphic novels when the Panini offices are closed. We hope you stay safe and look forward to better times.”
Doctor Who Magazine, Spider-Man Magazine and Panini’s football magazine Strike-It continued to be published through 2020, despite the logistics of the company’s editorial staff largely working remotely. New issues of all three titles, also available in many supermarkets, which have remained open throughout the crisis, have all been published recently.
“The newstrade is so volatile at present,” noted comic creator and longtime British comics industry observer Lew Stringer, “with magazines folding or going on hiatus (Starburst is in limbo until April). It’s too risky to re-launch the comics that are so dependent on WH Smiths.”
Despite the continued lockdown, there has been some good news for Panini, although not comic related. Licensing.biz reports the company has been “taken aback” by the demand for the new Premier League Official Sticker Collection 2021, that – despite the current lockdown restrictions – has seen sales outperform the success of the 2020 collection.
The range has been such a hit at retail that customers in some parts of the country have reported difficulty in getting their hands on the sticker packets, with hot spots for the new collection to be Leeds and Birmingham in particular.
Panini suggests that sales in these areas have been driven by Leeds United and Aston Villa fans who have embraced the collection as the “perfect antidote to lockdown” and not being able to see their teams play in person.
• Check out the Panini Comics UK for all their graphic novels, including, if you’re a fan of the new Disney+ series Wandavision, the House of M Ultimate Edition (£15.99 ISBN 9781846535826) and (Vision and the Scarlet Witch £13.99 ISBN 9781846532887)
With thanks to Lew Stringer