The evolving situation in the comics industry concerning its largest physical distributor soured on Monday.
Diamond Comics announced furloughs of several of its employees, according to ComicBook.com, not long after having informed all publishing partners they would temporarily halt shipment of new comics amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Members of the executive team are also cutting their pay by half during the shutdown.
“It is our goal that, on the other side of this crisis, our furloughed employees will return to their roles,” read a statement from Diamond on the furloughs.
Affected employees enrolled in health and dental plans will continue to be covered.
Diamond has a near monopoly on comic book distribution, with clients including Marvel, DC, and Sonic publisher IDW. Diamond’s actions have already resulted in the delays of Sonic #29 and #30 to as yet unknown dates. Reports surfaced over the weekend that, at the earliest, Diamond may not ramp up production again until August, which would impact more planned releases. With much of the industry still supporting now-shuttered comic book stores across the country and around the world, a halt on new digital releases from major publishers has also been self-imposed.
The exception so far is Alterna Comics. The publisher announced over the weekend they are cutting ties with Diamond, and will sell direct to consumers:
Alterna’s break from the rest of the industry illustrates the serious problem most comics publishers share in this scenario: Significantly reduced revenue is coming in, with no way to make it up without disrupting some component of the traditional supply chain. Diamond previously announced they would only pay publishers a quarter of expected payments through the crisis, with the rest deferred.
IDW, for the moment, is sticking to promoting current releases, even extending their sale on variant covers intended for Wondercon, and focusing on selling digital bundles of back volumes.
IDW head Chris Ryall has not afforded an update publicly on the impact to his company since March 23rd. A request for comment made by TSSZ to Ryall has not been returned.
This post was originally written by the author for TSSZ News.