GeekGround Image makes new comics returnable

3/17/20 11:35 AM
Posts: 48371


Image Comics Makes All New Comics Ordered Returnable – But Will Marvel Or DC?

Brian Hibbs, one of the leading comic book retailers in the direct market, co-founder of ComicsPRO and the man who created the Final Order Cut-Off system after a successful lawsuit against Marvel Comics, is having new issues with the FOC this week. He posted on Facebook, regarding his Comix Experience chain in San Francisco.
San Francisco business is being shut down in the whole Bay Area, so I went to redo FOC for the week, right before the deadline.
I sent an email to my top five suppliers asking if they were going to be offer returnability on the other end of this — I have three weeks of orders in the pipeline, and zero ability to sell those books in a meaningful way.
Two of the five ignored me, the other two gave me really really dark answers and it is clear they are using each other as excuses, and only one, Image, stepped right up and said "Yep, returnable for now". It's probably only 80% of the reassurance I want, but at least it is something.
I CUT THE SH-T OUT OF MY NEW FOC ORDER — 20% nearly across the board, and several things cut 50% or more.
Thanks for the reassurance, folks!
Comis stores order well in advance – it used to be three-to-four months but of late they are now able to amend their order without restriction around a month before the product is released. Which means the following four weeks worth of stock was locked before the coronavirus restrictions came into play, leaving many stores vulnerable to the changing market.  Image Comics has told Hibbs that they will be making all new stock ordered by stores fully returnable.
That would be a massive hit for Image Comics if it's carried through – but it's the kind of thing that will keep many comic book retailers afloat. However, Image is only 5-10% of the market. Marvel and DC Comics make up around 75-80% right now. And with greater pockets and mightier media owners, there is a need for both to step up is the direct comics industry is going to survive this. Will it be Marvel or DC who blink first? When one does you can be guaranteed the other will too.
3/17/20 2:00 PM
Posts: 32218
That would be a big break to struggling brick and mortar shops.
3/17/20 5:42 PM
Posts: 48373


Image Comics has devised a plan to assist retailers during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
"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," Chief Creative Officer and Publisher Eric Stephenson said in a statement. "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."
A letter was sent to retailers detailing some of the plans Image will implement, which include "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."
Final order cutoffs for Monday, March 16 products and FOCs through the end of the month will be made fully returnable, with an April update promised should the pandemic continue to worsen. Other measures taken include signal boosting direct market retailers on social media who are taking part in curbside pickup and mail delivery, encouraging fans to pick up their pull lists and asking Diamond to delay store billing.