The Coronavirus escalated, hitting local comics shops this past week. Will we actually get back to where we were before whenever things finally wind down? At least, we hope it will pass us by, and the sooner, the better!
CONS ARE GONE, MANY SHOPS ARE CLOSING FOR NOW
Even comic conventions months away are facing a bleak future. Of course, you should check the website for whatever con you’re interested in for the latest details. Many that were scheduled for the few months ahead are rescheduling for late summer or early Fall, but we don’t know how long and how deeply this disruption will last.
Online cons and the like continue each week, and I hope they will augment the incomes of comics creators everywhere. This could be something that will continue permanently.
Some comics companies are revisiting their release schedules, many reducing their output as they try to deal with the changes happening. I hate to see the industry taking a step back, but it may be necessary to survive.
Last week, I wondered out loud how badly this all would affect comics shops, and we’ve seen big changes recently. Many of the larger stores, working to keep fewer than 10 people gathering at one time, have closed their doors for the time being. Some smaller stores remain open, but that may only be temporary. Everyone has to follow the local and state government guidelines, and if they say to close, we might see them all be closed for now.
Larger LCS’s are getting creative in their ways of getting the products they ordered to their customers. Some have moved to mailing out weekly arrivals to folks who have subscription services. Others have gone so far as to provide curbside delivery to customers who let them know when they’ll be outside the store’s doors. An employee brings out their books and other stuff to their car. Payment is handled electronically.
Gaming events are mostly gone at the moment. Free Comic Book Day is also a casualty, which I still am grieving about.
I’ve noticed several comics pros going online to ask people to support their local comics shops. If you haven’t had a subscription before, sign up now! You’ll help keep them running until this ends. And it will conclude!
I’m not sure we’ve seen the last of these changes, though! A lot will continue to depend on how the Coronavirus spreads and reactions to it.
QUARANTINE, MY QUARANTINE
The various states are being impacted differently, and that has caused quarantines in many locations. While grocery stores and medical facilities remain open, many businesses aren’t open at all. It depends on whether or not your organization is considered vital or not.
As of this writing, New York, California, and Illinois are pretty much on lockdown. You don’t go anywhere unless it is critical, like buying food or seeing a doctor. Restaurants are reduced to offering take-out in an effort to stay afloat. Clubs of many varieties, including health clubs, nightclubs, and others, are shuttered.
When I go to local supermarkets, many shelves are bare. It still strikes me as odd that toilet paper is in such demand. I guess people are trying to plan for the worst, so necessities like TP are among the first things to go. Interestingly enough, a local radio station in Florida is offering TP as a prize today! We live in strange times!
WHEN YOUR LIFE IS LIKE A QUARANTINE
Comics creators are known for living solitary lives. Either hunched over a computer screen, a typewriter, or a drawing board, you work for hours and hours alone. At least, that’s how many pros do it.
So, while some of our lives are up in the air, some of us are actually used to this kind of thing. I lived for years in the northern U.S., and we would occasionally get snowed in. Then, a few years ago, I made it through a hurricane in the South. This feels a lot like those events to me. The good news is that we actually have power! And the Internet, even though everyone seems to be on it, making it very slow at times!
I find it interesting that places like Walmart are actually hiring! With products flying off their shelves, they need employees to restock, among other things.
While many people are at home wondering what to do, I’m busier than normal! Because a lot of what I do centers around my computer, I’m getting asked to do more and more things like editing and proofreading and such. Thankfully, I can still make my podcast, my column, and my reviews. I’m still not getting the time to catch up on my reading, which I would love, though. Sigh.
I do wonder what will happen to a local paper I work for part-time. They put their free-to-customers issues in local restaurants, shops, and offices. With many of those establishments closed, I’m not sure what will happen there.
NOW WHAT, MOVING FORWARD?
I’m really looking forward to the day when not every sentence on the TV news contains the word, “Coronavirus.” Although I’m not a tremendously social person, I miss seeing friends, including a monthly gathering of game-players who enjoyed board and card games. Now, it’s all gone the way of social distancing. I guess I actually led a life that could be described by that phrase before all this happened!
I do hear a lot more people are turning to digital comics to get their weekly fix. I am uncertain how the industry will function in the months, let alone years ahead, if this becomes the norm.
The LCS’s that survive will be the ones that are already strong and supported. I have a feeling that those who were just barely hanging on by their fingertips will not make it, and that’s a shame. Some of them could have had bright futures. Rats!
I still believe that the comics industry will get through this, and maybe be even stronger as a result of this shakeup. We were in a decline before this hit, so we might have to make changes we only thought about previously. Those changes could better prepare us for the years ahead.
Stay healthy, and keep reading your comics!
What do you think? Has the Coronavirus affected your local shops and cons? Are you interested in supporting local stores and events that could help creators near you? Please share your thoughts in the space below!