Mercifully, nothing utterly insane happened this week in comics, so I get to write about a bunch of things I like instead! Unfortunately, we’re kicking Comics Disassembled – my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics – off with a health scare. Fortunately, it was just that: a scare.
1. Get Well Soon, Brian Hibbs!
Brian Hibbs is someone you might be familiar with even if you’ve never been to his two San Francisco comic shops, Comix Experience and Comix Experience Outpost. He’s a long-standing leader in the comics retail community – his first shop opened in 1989 – and he’s a vocal guy, doing his best to stand up for comic shops, even if puts him in a tough position. I like Brian a lot, even if I haven’t agreed with everything he’s said during the pandemic, because a) he really loves comics, b) he’s always great to chat with on Off Panel, and c) he’s always doing what he thinks is right for everyone, not just himself. I respect the hell out of that.
Very recently, Hibbs had a heart attack. It was a close one, but he’s recovering and out of the hospital. I won’t go into any more details, because it’s his business, but I just wanted to share a hearty “get well soon” to Brian, as well as a “for the love of god, please take it easy!” message. Being a comics retailer is stressful, and something that can come with unrelenting days, nights and likely other time periods that have been invented solely for retailers. I hope Brian gets the chance to veg out, watch some Netflix, and relax, because everyone needs that from time to time during this stretch, but perhaps most of all him.
2. Comic Releases, Down (For Now)
This is something I meant to write about last week, forgot to do that for reasons, and now am doing it because I think it’s interesting enough to do so even a week later. John Jackson Miller, data god, man of Comichron, shared insight into a trend heavily discussed in my recent retailer feature, and that’s the extreme drop off in comic releases amidst the pandemic. Now, that’s even the case post-Diamond reopening, and it’s wild to see the numbers, which JJM breaks down in a thread on Twitter.
Here’s the basics. March saw 459 comics released, April had 3 (!! but also unsurprising!!), May had 91, June spiked to 248, while July’s all the way up to 327, still well below the starting point. The bulk of the downturn came from Marvel, who is still below 50% its previous output of *checks records* one billion releases a month, but either way, it’s a startling downturn. Not a bad one, though! I’ve largely heard that the limited selection has instead helped some titles thrive and find audiences better than they might have in the previous status quo. It’s very interesting.
Conversely, graphic novels are up way higher than they were in March, because of course they are. There was a bottleneck, which fueled big, big, big numbers upon the return. It’s all very interesting, but not something I’d necessarily call purely good or bad, despite what I said before. I’m going to call it chaotic neutral. Interesting, but definitely chaotic neutral.