In a week that’s been marred by weird illness symptoms (no, not THAT one), severe illness elsewhere in our family (no, thankfully still not that one), news of one distant relative’s recent death (it, um…it was that one), complicated cases at work, the monotony of internet outrage, and daily-routine malaise…it’s heartening whenever I spot signs of the Old Normal popping up, like a stray flower sprouting in a scorched field.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, the comic book industry had ground to a halt in the wake of COVID-19, with no new comics published for over a month. New Comic Day, that treasured tradition that lured us comics collectors to shops every Wednesday for the latest installments of our never-ending fantasy/SF paper serials, was erased from our calendars with no promises that everyone would make it through unscathed to the other end of the pandemic tunnel.
Eventually plans were concocted, workarounds were found, a 27-year-old paradigm was junked, and a few publishers announced their comebacks. The gears of printing and distribution are grinding slowly, but at least they’re grinding. Every company is reducing their output, which is understandable considering many shops can’t fully reopen yet and many fans need their former comics-shopping money for more essential goods and services at the moment. But those who can do something are happy to do so at whatever level they’re allowed without endangering everyone else in the chain of comics commerce.
The local shops’ procedure for acquiring new comics is relatively simple: pre-order, pop in, pick up, get out. The ordering interface for Step 1 had some kinks to work out, but adjustments have been made. I also had to wait an extra day because one of the comics I wanted had to be transferred over from another store. Nobody’s ordering a lot of extra shelf copies right now, and no one’s under any idealistic impression that new fans might show up out of nowhere and decide they want to read Something Different. Browsing the shelves for random purchases is a luxury not technically permitted yet under our state’s five-phase “reopening” plan.
It was an awkward reunion today, to say the least — me wearing the mask our niece made me, the shop owner in his flip-down full-face shield. But it was great to see him and his wares again — him distanced, them in my clutches.
Full disclosure: this wasn’t the very, very first week that new comics became a thing again. DC Comics got the ball rolling three weeks ago, but almost entirely with new stuff I didn’t want. The lone exception unfortunately came out when the “ordering interface” issues were at their nadir and I couldn’t quite jump through the correct hoops that our local shops were holding in front of me. Eventually it arrived in my mailbox two days ago. I’d prefer to keep shopping locally and not to keep spending extra on mail-order, though.
In a week that’s felt like being smothered by a murky gray sky, it’s nice to have a few new highlights poking holes through the canopy.
It would be even better if only I could remember what happened previously in Plunge all those months ago…