This feels like one of those weeks where some of the news doesn’t seem huge now but it could become much more later on. Let’s look at all of that and more in this week’s edition of Comics Disassembled, where I highlight ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics, led by a continued thorn in the size of all of publishing.
1. The Supply Chain, Continuing to Break
This is a subject I tackled recently, as the supply chain breaking throughout the world has created a situation where comic industry related companies are struggling to deliver the very product they make in a timely fashion (or even in the volume necessary). But this week, the topic had a direct market publisher admitting the issues the pandemic and pandemic related impacts are causing on them doing what they do, as DC told retailers delays were coming on at least 35 titles in the near future. Not only that, but they warned of further shifts, as they projected this issue to continue for the next few months.
I am sure that will be the case, and I am sure this issue is broader than most are willing to admit. I talked about DC in my feature on these shortages, and while they were lower on the list of problem publishers for shops I talked to, this issue is also not a new one for them despite the admission that hit this week. It isn’t for anyone, and the road map to resolution is a long one given that it’s related to so many other industries and to so many other parts of this world breaking.
This strikes me as something that may well get worse before it gets better, as public admission wouldn’t come if there wasn’t larger concern involved. And this is a subject that could have considerably larger costs, as publisher issues affect distributors which affect retailers which affect readers, with that reverberating throughout the industry. It’s a big deal that could be an even bigger one, so keep an eye out for this.
2. ComiXology, On the Outs?
Next week’s episode of Off Panel welcomes The Beat’s Heidi MacDonald to the show, and in it, she expresses surprise that few people seemed to be worked up about ComiXology’s announcement this week. The gist is ComiXology was getting a new app and that the ComiXology site was going away in favor of an Amazon storefront, not to mention a general migration to users needing to login through an Amazon account rather than their ComiXology one. There are other elements, but that was the bulk of it. I told her I wasn’t too concerned about it because it seemed like a necessary move – I’ve never liked the ComiXology app – and that aligning purchases through Amazon instead of a separate site made sense even if it was less comic oriented this way.
I still believe those ideas to be true – I really do not like the current ComiXology app – but a new wrinkle entered the picture, as creator Jodie Troutman shared that ComiXology Submit was officially dead as part of this, with all future comics now going through Kindle Direct Publishing instead. While I’ve always been uncertain about the viability of Submit, as it never really lit the world on fire, the fact that ComiXology offered a self-publishing option for comic creators via the platform seemed to fit their comic supportive ethos, Amazon or not.
And losing that is a huge bummer, as it could be reflective of a new mentality that doesn’t quite match where ComiXology came from. I suppose it’s nice that Kindle Direct Publishing is still an option, but with that being a one-stop shop for all types of storytelling, seemingly, that puts comics in a sea of unrelated materials. At least with Submit all content fit within an ecosystem of other comics, making discoverability a possibility rather than a nightmare.
With that change, I went from being not too concerned about this news to, let’s say, moderately concerned about what this means for the long-term future of ComiXology as ComiXology rather than, effectively, Amazon Comics. Granted, that’s what it is already, just under a different name. But having some separation allows for some of its original energy to live on. I’m concerned that’s on the way out now.