The comic book industry has been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic harder than most, given that its main physical distribution centers tend to be mom-and-pop operations in cramped locations. It can be difficult to turn a profit with such a business under normal circumstances, let alone at a time when everyone’s afraid to step inside. One comic book publisher is looking to give their friends who distribute their products a little help, though.
Zenescope Entertainment was the first comic book publisher to start using the lockdown to promote themselves virtually. Their monthly “Virtual Con” livestreams have been airing on Facebook Live and their YouTube channels since March. Viewers are encouraged to interact with Zenescope reps through talkbacks and Q&As, contests, interviews with writers and artists, and giveaways. Zenescope also uses these livestreams to sell their latest comics directly (there’s gotta be something in it for them).
“Even with little time to plan the early streams, it somehow worked.” says Zenescope’s co-founder and Head Film & TV, Ralph Tedesco. “We [wanted] it to feel like an interactive event with things you might see or do at in-person comic cons. It’s really been a great way to stay connected to comic book fans during a time where everyone is feeling isolated.”
Now Zenescope is conducting “Retailer Livestreams,” or visits to one different comic shop each month (in some cases twice a month). Those who watch the stream will be given a tour of the comic shop and its products, and encouraged to support them. The revenue from the products they sell during these streams will be split 50/50 between them and the shop owners.
“Comic shops are the lifeblood of this industry. The ones that stocked our titles early on were especially vital to Zenescope’s growth over the past fifteen years” Said Zenescope President Joe Brusha “These livestreams are meant to give shop owners who’ve lost walk-in business during the pandemic a chance to showcase their stores. And hopefully it also allows them to make some extra money while we all strive to get back to normal in 2021.”
Zenescope’s first Retailer Livestream will go live on February 23, at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland. It will be followed by Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, Florida on March 9, and Comic Empire Of Tulsa (Oklahoma) on March 23.