I want to spend  a post talking about the state of comic books right now, because we are living in a unique point in history.

Obviously, the scope of indie comics is wide––with regard to webcomics, the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t really impact their distribution unless it personally impacts or affects the health or life of the comicker.

But for print comics, the pandemic hit the industry straight in the face. This is due to there being an ostensible monopoly on comic distribution in the guise of Diamond Comic Distributors, the distributor that that, likely, over 90% of the industry uses to get its books to shops.

People have been skeptical of Diamond’s dominance for awhile, but the problem of that model never came into a more chilling light than int the face of this pandemic. In late-March or early-April, Diamond announced it would  not be delivering any new books for the foreseeable future. Such a declaration technically pushed the distribution plans of the big two––Marvel and DC Comics––to a halt, not to mention the handful of independent publishers that rely on Diamond’s breadth to get their books to shops: Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW, Oni Press, Boom!, Dynamite, etc.

The problem is that that this creates a chain reaction––if comics can’t get to shops, then shops have to rely on their back stock. With that means fewer weekly customers, which results in layoffs and reduced hours. On the other side of things, no new comics means no (or reduced) income for publishers. Aside from shops, the first folks to feel the effects of that decision are the those in creative––writers and artists––who are told to wait for further instruction before continuing with their jobs.

This is a problem because the majority of those in creative––big two or otherwise––are freelancers or work-for-hire contracts, meaning they’re working job to job without any preconceived security or any perk that comes along with said security.

In response to this, DC Comics announced that, starting a few weeks ago, it would be distributing new books to shops through alternatives to Diamond, which is a big no-no. However, they did it and it seemed to do the job, albeit with many hiccups and road bumps.

The big news is that starting this week, Diamond is––in limited capacity––starting up its machine again and, with that announcement, books from Marvel, DC, as well as all the indie publishers will be providing shops with new books this week. Even DC comics is soliciting through Diamond to no apparent penalty despite going rogue.

I say all of this not to cast judgment or aspersion on any player in this drama; instead, I want to play up the value of webcomics in light of all of this. Though the regularity of a comic is wholly dependent on the whim and life of the creator right now, the truth is that it has always been like that, and though the effect of the virus has been devastating across the board (even in the world of comics), self-published indie comics persist through the din.

I’m relieved to say that COVID-19 hasn’t affected me or my immediate family personally, and that has allowed me to continue regular updates with Long John as we head into the final two weeks of Chapter 4, it’s a luck I keep in mind every day.

So, to that end, I again thank you for your support through Chapter 4 (and before and beyond) and I hope you and yours are staying healthy, happy, and safe as we work our way through this.