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COMICS STAGE A COMEBACK

As with the rest of the world, the world of comics publishing, distribution and retail were affected by the shutdowns related to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thankfully, we are now well into a comeback in all three areas. Our comics experts Constance and Kevin discuss the challenges ahead and highlight some of the big releases coming out in early July 2020.


Constance:
The Comics genre has always been flexible. From the days of direct to consumer subscription mailings, newsstand purchases, brick and mortar stores to digital platforms; comic fans have never shied away from new ways to consume media. In March of this year, Diamond Comic Distributors halted shipments of new comics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many (on both sides of the comic production chain) this disrupted the familiar constants we’d all grown used to – new comics come out weekly, new content is always available and new comics are getting made in anticipation of the weeks to come. Shops were shuttered and millions of fans, content creators and retailers were left with the collective question of: what’s next? Now, as the United States struggles to find footing amongst the continuing presence of the pandemic, retailers are working tirelessly to get comics into the hands of fans.

Stores have opened around the country with reduced hours, capacity limits and curbside pickup options to bring fans back in. While retailers are feeling the strain of the past several months, they are excited to get back to the business of getting comics into the hands of fans.

Kevin:
After Diamond halted shipments to stores at the end of March, DC Comics announced it was working with two new distributors in mid-April and began shipping new comics to stores in late April. By late May, Diamond was back up and running, distributing comics from Marvel, IDW, Dark Horse, Boom! As well as all the other comics publishers. As this was happening, Kickstarter comic launches were doing gangbusters, as were online vendors and auction houses with vintage books and original art. As Constance mentioned, with comic stores reopening all over with new rules about social distancing in place, in addition to the US, Canadian and international comics retailers are also facing the same challenges of getting fans back into the stores and staging a safe comeback.

Constance and I delved into some of the big comics projects and books coming to a store near you in early July.

Constance

From a content perspective, there’s plenty to be excited about – both in collected editions and new comics come July 1.  If you’re someone who enjoys classic comics, DC has an Absolute Fourth World by Jack Kirby hardcover coming out that collects Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 133-145, Forever People 1-6, New Gods 1-6 and Mister Miracle 1-6 plus a smattering of extras.  Add that to the Nightwing Year One deluxe edition hardcover that comes out on the same day (collecting Nightwing 101-106) and this little nerd is going to drop some coin on DC hard covers next week.  

Star Trek Year Five is back with issue 12 promising a villain reveal that has been a mystery for readers since issue 1 and it’s worth your time if you haven’t read the first 11 to grab them and catch up over the next week.  For me, the art alone is with the price of admission with series regular Stephen Thompson delivering beautifully drawn, engaging pages over and over. 

If the MCU is where your heart is, Marvel continues their tradition of prelude trade paperbacks with one on Marvel’s Black Widow Prelude, written by Peter David. This book gives a glimpse into the history of Natasha Romanoff (in the context of the MCU) and promises to be a great supplement as we wait for the movie. 

Further reaching out to non-print Marvel Universe fans; 90’s X-Men Fans can look forward to the Marvel Animated X-men Magneto Bust being in stores (personally, I’m waiting on Jean Grey, but the Magneto really does look amazing).  

Darkhorse is celebrating Blacksad’s 20th anniversary year with a TPB featuring 5 of his most impactful cases – collecting 280 pages of content along with some that has never been published in English if you’re a fan of Blacksad, don’t miss this. If you aren’t a fan of Blacksad, I’m willing to bet it’s because you haven’t read any and you should also not miss this. 

Jason Aaron has a new series out from the Goddamned: The Virgin Brides with art from R.M Guera via Image and I’m excited to read it – it looks absolutely gorgeous and introduces two new female leads (Sharri and Jael) and their quest to escape a fate worse than death (their world’s version of matrimony).  Aaron promises fresh new biblical brutality and I am here for it.

Kevin

The first week of July is a skip week for Marvel and DC, but they are putting out a number of graphic novels, some of which Constance mentioned in her overview (can’t recommend Blacksad more highly!). 

Some of the graphic novel releases I’m excited about being released July 1 are from Marvel Comics Timely’s Sub-Mariner: Post War Omnibus –Marvel has never reprinted most of these comics as they were never included in the Golden Age Marvel Masterworks line. I’m a big fan of the Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett’s work, he has a great, clean drawing style and these comics also include the debut of Namor’s cousin Namora. 

Marvel Masterworks Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 3 collects some classic Spider-Man comics from the early 1980’s written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Jim Mooney. It also includes Amazing Spider-Man Annual #13 written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by legendary artist John Byrne. Also a new Marvel Select Edition of the classic Infinity Gauntlet by Jim Starlin, George Perez and Ron Lim and a new printing of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s Batman: Arkham Asylum and the first collection of Tini Howard and Marcus To’s Excalibur.

On the non-superhero front, Scott Chantler’s Bix is worth seeking out. This wordless graphic novel by the Eisner Award nominated and Shuster Award winning author (Two Generals, Northwest Passage) highlights the career of Leon “Bix” Beiderbecke, an innovative jazz soloist from the 1920’s. It’s very stylish and extremely accessible.

When the Walking Dead came to an end last year with issue #193, fans thought the book was closed on the Walking Dead comics universe, but Image Comics has a surprise for everyone with the release of Negan Lives #1 on July 1 by series creator Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard and it spotlights the exiled fan-favorite anti-hero and costume choice for distinguished cosplayers all over!

I collect 1/6 scale figures so I was happy to learn that Three A’s Game of Thrones Jon Snow Season 8 1/6 Scale Figure will be arriving with my comics retailer.

Hot Comics

It should also be noted that the delayed Marvel Comics Empyre event in which the Avengers and the Fantastic Four team up to deal with a massive alien invasion spearheaded by a new Kree/Skrull alliance is gearing up in July. Empyre: Avengers #0 came out June 24, and Empyre: Fantastic Four #0 is set to arrive in stores on July 8th and will be a big deal in each subsequent week in July and August, with numerous one shots and related mini-series in addition to the 6 issue main mini-series written by Al Ewing and Dan Slott.

With the recent releases of Batman #92 and #93, introducing the Joker’s new girlfriend Punchline, DC Comics are gearing up for the big summer Bat-Family crossover “JOKER WAR” that kicks off in Batman #95, out later in July, written by James Tynion IV. Additionally, the first issue of Dark Knights: Death Metal #1 came out on June 25th by superstar creators Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo and it’s sure to be a big event over the summer of 2020.

Younger Readers and Anime/Manga

There are many new releases for younger readers as well like Jeremy and Hermione Tankard’s Yorick and Bones, Disney’s Moana: The Story of the Movie in Comics and among the many releases for Anime fans is My Hero Academia GN Vol. 24  

For the full list of new releases coming on July 1 visit: https://previewsworld.com/NewReleases?releaseDate=07/01/2020

Kevin A. Boyd

Kevin is the Senior Comics Lead for Fan Expo HQ since 2015 and has worked in the industry for nearly three decades. Co-founder and Director of the Joe Shuster Canadian Comic Book Creator Awards, est. in 2004. Owner of the Comic Book Lounge and Gallery, formerly a retail shop in downtown Toronto. Director of the CGC Signature Series program from 2004-2010, former Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Advisor. A comics and comic art collector, fan, researcher, historian and at time creator. His secret identity has over 30 years’ experience in cancer research. Kevin resides in Toronto, ON.

Constance Eza

A 20+ year veteran of the convention industry, Constance Eza joined the FAN EXPO & MEGACON Orlando team in 2016. A life-long comics fan and superhero girl at heart, she grew up on a steady diet of X-Men, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Spawn and the Bat family. When she’s not running around a convention floor or a Disney park, Constance is a Vascular Neurology attending physician in Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her husband and son.