In case you’ve been drowning in Tik Tok videos or locked in too many Zoom calls like myself in quarantine; a few days ago, San Diego Comic-Con announced they were going virtual after news broke that the physical event would be canceled due to the pandemic. Reading this, I wondered how will this affect the comic book industry as a whole? Will I be able to walk into Forbidden Planet when they release us New Yorkers from our fortress of solitude? Only one way to find out.
I decided to reach out to Joe Kelly, who created characters like Big Hero 6, Ben 10, and wrote for Spider-Man as well as many other comics. To my shock, he actually responded. Holy connection Batman! Joe was enthusiastic to share his thoughts about the status of the comic book industry as a whole and even shared his personal experience working in the industry. “It’s a wild time,” says Joe, “and I do think, like many industries, we are gonna come out of it different than we went into it.”
Shockingly though, the decline of comic book sales has been going on for a while. Joe and Shawna Kidman, a UC San Diego professor and author of Comic Books Incorporated: How the Business of Comics Became the Business of Hollywood both stated that the rise of superhero movies really hasn’t been translating to print sales. “So you have a struggling industry and this crisis is aggravating all of the aspects of the industry that were already struggling,” exclaims Kidman. The brick and mortar shops are the ones really at risk in closing stores for good she said while big guns DC and Marvel move to virtual platforms to ride out the tide.
Being an avid comic book fan myself, I couldn’t fathom a world where mint fresh condition comics get shelved for good. Luckily, Joe Albano a NY- based collector, who has seen comic book stores around him close maintains hope. “It’s important to people that they have those heroes to fall back on…to look up to…it’s important to us.”
Thankfully, all three agree that this is not the end of the industry. Fundraisers like #ComicRetailerReliefFund are being started in the hopes of saving those comic book stores. Just now, Back the Comeback was announced by Diamond. Heroes in the community are rising up. We have the power and with that comes the responsibility.
Watch to hear more about my discoveries!