Marvel Vs. DC: How Have the Big Two Comic Companies Responded to COVID-19?

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The comic book world was not immune to the effects of COVID-19. The industry took a large hit as Diamond Retailers, the sole comic book distribution service shut its doors in response to the pandemic.

The response of the two largest comic book publishers, Marvel and DC has had two very different responses to the shut down. Marvel elected to discontinue publication of its books for a time. DC elected to publish entirely digital for a while, and created a "Digital First" brand of comics featuring the company's most popular characters.

Diamond recently reopened its doors, and Marvel responded cautiously, releasing only a few issues per week. DC's response was two-pronged; the company has not only started releasing its full slate of comics, but has also made the unprecedented move of looking to diversify its distribution. Instead of continuing to rely exclusively on Diamond, DC has chosen to sever ties with the services, and is looking for other ways to distribute their services. The last word was that DC was looking at using three potential distributors to ensure that their comics are made available for fans.

Even as the world attempts to recover from the effects of the Corona Virus, DC has returned to releasing its full slate of books, while Marvel lags behind. This week, DC is releasing fifteen issues, including the first part of the much anticipated "Dark Nights: Death Metal". Marvel, on the other hand is only releasing four issues this week, and has substantially delayed their own summer event series, "Empyre".

As a fan, I am having a bit of a time understanding why Marvel is taking such a cautious route. It doesn't make a lot of sense. Thus far they have been slow to release their titles, and even now their weekly releases are slim pickings.

DC, on the other hand, has adapted impressively with the times. Even when they had no distributor to use, the company elected to create an entirely digital line of comics. This was a very innovative move on their part, and allowed them to make the important move of maintaining a connection with their fans.

In my humble opinion, DC has won this round. Marvel would definitely benefit from taking a closer look at their competition and snatching a few notes from DC's business model on how to adapt to change.

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© 2020 D. R. Bickham