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Free Comic Book Day has been postponed amid coronavirus outbreak

A boy looks at a comic book at Secret Headquarters.
Free Comic Book Day has been postponed until the summer because of the coronavirus outbreak.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Diamond Comic Distributors announced Thursday that Free Comic Book Day 2020 is officially postponed.

Generally observed on the first Saturday in May, Free Comic Book Day is a day where each person who visits a participating shop is guaranteed one free comic book from a selection of FCBD titles. Diamond had previously announced the 47 titles set for FCBD 2020.

“The severity and timing of the impact of the COVID-19 virus can’t be predicted with any certainty, but the safety of our retailer partners and comic book fans is too important to risk,” Diamond Founder and Chief Executive Steve Geppi said in a statement. “As always, we appreciate your enthusiasm for and support of the comic industry’s best event and look forward to celebrating with you later in the Summer.”

The announcement follows some confusion generated by Wednesday reports that Diamond was considering changing FCBD 2020 into a monthlong celebration.

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As with movies, TV and various other entertainment events that have had to alter course in response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the comic book industry has also been impacted by the public health emergency.

This includes postponements and cancellations of larger-scale events. Comic-Con International announced last week that WonderCon 2020 would be postponed from its April dates until some time in the summer.

Even outside of California, events such as Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con, which was originally scheduled to be held in March, has announced new August dates. The Toronto Comic Arts Festival also recently announced that the annual event is canceled for 2020.

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Local comic book stores, much like their fellow independent booksellers, have also been impacted by the outbreak. In addition to canceling in-store events, some shops have opted to limit store hours and have been providing alternate ways for costumers to obtain their comics such as shipping orders (made via phone or online) and offering curbside pick-up.

Comic book retailers are in a uniquely vulnerable position because they operate in what is known as the direct market — meaning each store has to decide how many issues of each comic it believes it can sell and pay upfront for this inventory. The cut-off for these orders is usually months in advance of the on-sale date.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, publishers have become increasingly vocal about how to safely support retailers and have begun to announce new measures.

Image Comics publisher and CEO Eric Stephenson penned an open letter urging other publishers to make their books with upcoming order cut-off dates returnable, which would allow comic book stores to return the issues they were unable to sell for a refund.

Other comic book publishers are looking to delay upcoming new releases, which could also alleviate some of the impact on retailers.


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