Image, Vault, And Aftershock To Pare Back Releases To Ease Comic Shop Pressure

Multiple comic book publishers including Image, Vault, and Aftershock have announced that they would be paring back their release schedule in an attempt to alleviate pressure on comic book shops.

Vault sent a letter to stores.

To all of our comics retail partners,

Vault wouldn’t be here without you, and we’re working to do everything possible to support you through this trying time. You are the backbone of this industry.

We have been carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation. We are in constant communication with Diamond, many of our retail partners, and our creators. We are implementing a flexible plan, working to do as much as we can in this shifting landscape to alleviate some of the pressure that retailers are facing.

To that end, Vault will be delaying all titles with Final Order Cut-off dates between March 23 and April 13 by two weeks. As of now, these titles will FOC and ship two weeks later than currently scheduled. This means there will be no new Vault titles shipping between April 1 through April 29. Titles that have already FOC-ed on March 16 or earlier will still ship as scheduled, though we want to remind you that all new #1s from Vault are fully returnable. Tentatively, we will FOC one trade and one single issue on April 6 for ship dates of April 29 and May 6, respectively.

We will reassess as we draw closer to April 6, to determine whether these delays are sufficient or additional measures need to be taken to support our partners. Meanwhile, we will work daily with Diamond to gain access to better tools–the tools we need–to mitigate our retail partners’ risks as necessary. Provided no additional delays are deemed necessary, our schedule will continue as solicited after April 27.
We reiterate, we will do everything possible to support you, our partners, as we navigate this unprecedented situation.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to us directly. You can contact me or David Dissanayake, Vault’s Director of Sales & Marketing with any questions, concerns, or ideas.

Kind regards,
Damian Wassel
Vault Comics

Aftershock also sent an email to retailers.

To our retailer partners and friends:

It’s been a wild few days – and looks to be a wild few weeks, if not months. As we at AfterShock have been discussing what we can do directly to help lessen the impact of COVID-19, we remain grateful for the insights and concerns shared with us by many of you in recent days. As we stated earlier in a note to our fans, we continue to support all your efforts in navigating these uncharted waters. Our hearts go out particularly to shops forced to shutter in the midst of regional lockdowns.

We have had deep, serious discussions with Diamond and are prepared to participate, where we can, in initiatives and relief plans that they will put forward soon. We have also had conversations with many retailers, who have encouraged us to postpone shipments of our new books. As of this writing, we are working to delay such shipments by a minimum of 4 weeks, monitoring and re-evaluating daily the possible extension of this delay beyond 4 weeks, if necessary. We look forward with hope and confidence to that time when we can return to business as usual.

We’re also taking this action in support of our creators. It’s their books that we’ve been entrusted to publish, promote and work with you to sell. As you know, we have some incredible new series set to launch and are determined to do so in an environment that benefits all contributors and stakeholders.

A number of you have inquired about our AfterShock Army team of brand ambassadors. Obviously, their health and well-being are our primary concern. We are working with them individually to determine how to best stay in touch with those of you they’ve already visited or otherwise contacted. In general, we’ve tasked them with taking their cues from you. Steve Rotterdam will be reaching out directly to shops over the next few days with more specific information.

Committed to remaining as flexible as possible, we will continue to monitor circumstances in this new era of unprecedented change and challenge. And as broader programs are put forward, we will determine – in consultation with you — the best ways AfterShock might participate.

As always, please feel free to reach out with questions, comments and opinions. We wouldn’t want it any other way. You make what we do worthwhile.

Joe Pruett
Publisher and Chief Creative Officer
AfterShock Comics

Here’s Image’s letter to retailers.

Dear Retailer Partners,

Image Comics seeks to promote and elevate the creative freedom that comes with creator-owned storytelling and some of the best comics in the industry and share with everyone these special books that inspire and entertain. We cannot accomplish this goal without the support and long-term stability of the Direct Market. As such, we are actively monitoring the conversations around government-mandated store closures and sales within the Direct Market and are active in conversations with Diamond regarding returnability, delayed billing, and potentially staggering the release of new product. We are fully aware of the impact a prolonged gap in business can have on local, independently-owned comic shops.

As the situation surrounding the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) evolves we are following official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), health officials, and the U.S. government. We understand that many retailers are taking similar measures for the safety of themselves, their staff, and their customers, too. As such, we are deeply sensitive to the immense economic strain these closures of non-essential businesses will put on comic shops everywhere.

We want to help.

To that end, here is what we have in motion so far:

ALL Image Comics product on FOC for Monday, March 16 and for the following FOCs through the end of the month will be fully returnable. Should the pandemic worsen and the closures continue, we will update you all on returnability in April.
Our marketing team is actively giving signal blasts to all social posts from Direct Market retailers who have announced mail subscription deliveries and curbside pickup.
We have sent an email alert to 80K+ consumers encouraging them to follow their local comic book stores on social media for updates on store hours, rescheduled events, and cleaning policies.
We are actively messaging to fans across all platforms to purchase their pullbox reserves and stock up on comics at their local shop for reading material during self-quarantine.
We are pushing for Diamond to extend delayed billing to stores.
We are listening to feedback and to your concerns and are monitoring emails from retailers. We are eager and invested in helping support you and your businesses.

“This is a difficult situation for everyone, and while we commend both retailers and consumers for putting their health and safety first, we don’t feel all the burden should be placed on the Direct Market,” said Eric Stephenson, Chief Creative Officer and Publisher at Image Comics. “We want stores to order with the confidence they’re not going to be stuck with stock they can’t sell, and we hope everyone recognizes the part we all can play by joining together to help one another weather this crisis.”

We stand with you during this uncertain and frightening time, and we share in the responsibility to support this medium we all love by supporting the local retailers who are the bedrock of our industry – absolutely essential businesses that drive the exposure of comic books to fans, readers, and collectors all over the world.

More information and communications to follow as the situation develops.

All the best,

The Image Comics Team

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