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The last time the comics community enjoyed a New Comic Book Day with a relatively normal amount of new product was March 25. After that, Diamond Comics Distributors — the company that ships comics from all major publishers to local stores — announced it was suspending shipment of new product amid the rising threat of COVID-19. Now, DC Comics is preparing to change that, at least a little.
The publisher announced Friday that it will begin shipping new single issue comics to participating local stores again on April 28, marking an end to a month-long comics drought that's been filled with various fundraisers to help local shops through the crisis. The decision came, according to DC's announcement, "after surveying more than 2,000 stores across the U.S. and Canada" about how to get the product to readers. The publisher also made a list of participating stores (which will be updated regularly) available on its website. While most stores are still closed to regular business, many local shops are offering curbside pickup, shipping and even delivery options for customers.
Titles available on April 28 include a new third printing of Batman #89, Daphne Byrne #4, The Dreaming #20, Nightwing #70, and Batman GIANT #4. The publisher also revealed new comics offering for May 5 and May 12 as part of its announcement. The issues will be on sale digitally the same day.
When Diamond announced it would no longer ship new product, publishers were forced to contend with the sudden loss of their main source of physical distribution, and virtually every major publisher cut out the release of new single issues (apart from digital-first releases) while they worked on a strategy. While there was nothing necessarily stopping publishers from releasing digital-only comics, a large portion of their readership still buys physical copies locally, so single-issue publication ground to a halt in solidarity with local stores.
In the days after Diamond's announcement, reports surfaced that DC was exploring options to distribute books without them, and now it looks like some version of that strategy has been arrived at.
It's unclear if, or when, other publishers will follow DC's lead and latch onto new methods of distribution to local stores, but even if they don't we may not have to wait for Diamond much longer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the distributor sent a letter out to retailers Friday that identified "mid-to-late May" as a potential timeframe for reopening shipping channels for new comics, though that timeline is subject to change as the situation evolves.
So, comics are still crawling slowly back to the light. We have no idea when a "normal" New Comic Book Day might arrive again, but at least there's progress.