Hurricane Sandy's Effect on the Comics Industry

On Monday, Hurricane Sandy -- a hurricane that combined with two other storm systems to form an odd amalgam Frankenstorm -- hit the east coast of the United States to devastating effect. In the comics-heavy New York City, Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Valiant Entertainment main offices have been closed since the storm hit on Monday. Although all editorial staff are safe, there is not yet an update on when offices will be reopened or how the hurricane will affect the current publishing schedule.

"Even though Valiant has a small in-house staff, we are scattered all over the greater metropolitan area with employees in not only Manhattan, but Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut as well," Valiant Marketing and Communications Manager Hunter Gorinson told Comic Book Resources. "Obviously, our offices on W. 33rd St. have been closed since the storm began, and, even though Sandy has passed, most of us would be unable to commute anyway due to the various public transportation shutdowns currently in effect.

"As of last count, our staff members residing in Long Island, Connecticut, and New Jersey (including Publisher Fred Pierce and VP of Operations Walter Black) are without power. That being said, everyone is safe and sound, and any property damage to their homes appears to be minimal at this time. However, Valiant Assistant Editor Josh Johns did manage to capture some pretty stunning amateur video as his building in Harlem was about to be evacuated. This is what he shot of the FDR Drive on the East Side of Manahttan last night."

"We won't have a full accounting of how this has impacted our freelancers in the area until we can regroup later in the week, but, for now, we're just grateful that everyone appears to have weathered the storm safely," Gorinson continued. "And that goes not only for Valiant, but our friends and colleagues at Marvel, DC, Archie, and the plethora of amazing local retailers across the five boroughs, and all of our fellow New Yorkers citywide as well."

comiXology co-founder and CEO David Steinberger noted that, despite the effect of the storm, the comiXology team in New York have pulled together to keep digital releases on track for the week -- an impressive feat considering none of the New York staff have been in the office since Friday.

"The comiXology team really came together in the last few days, including hard work through the storm last night," Steinberger told CBR News. "We managed to launch 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' last night at midnight and Marvel back issues this morning. We expect a near normal new comics day release schedule tomorrow -- although please forgive us if we're a little late flipping the switch -- and almost all books set to launch will be live and ready to read! All this and no one has been in the office since Friday. Congratulations to the comiXology team!"

While comiXology's digital services will be largely unaffected according to Steinberger, the offices for comiXology, Marvel, DC, Valiant and more could be out of commission for some time -- Bloomberg reports damage to the Metropolitan Transit Authority was so widespread, officials couldn't even say when they'll be able to assess it and full service will not resume until inspections take place.

While it's unknown whether editorial staff are able to work through the aftermath of the storm while the offices are closed, many have taken to social media on Twitter and Facebook to keep in contact -- including "Amazing Spider-Man" writer Dan Slott, who Tweeted at Spidey editor Stephen Wacker that he's still hard at work on "Amazing Spider-Man" #700, despite having no power.

"Power is out in my neighborhood, but I've lined up a place to work from tomorrow," Slott said via Twitter. "Will have 'ASM' #700 scr [sic] pages in tomorrow."

Fans may have some trouble getting this week's comics in a timely fashion due to unavoidable delays. In an e-mail to retailers, Diamond Comics Distributors stated its home office in Maryland would close early yesterday in anticipation of the storm, but the office is open again today. Despite tendering nearly all retailer shipments, Diamond notified retailers that UPS has reported "unavoidable shipping delays" in many states with affected areas including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington DC.

UPDATE 10/31/12 9:40 AM PT: Diamond has contacted CBR and stated there were not any delays in getting shipments tendered to UPS/Fed Ex or any other shipping option for this week's comics. As previously stated, there will likely be shipping delays to affected areas with carriers not delivering or picking up shipments in the last few days. Other than that, there has been no disruption in service or pick up of comics for next week's shipment at this time.

Many retailers are so far unable to provide updates on when affected locations will be open for business due to the massive power outages and loss of phone service across affected areas. CBR contacted New York retailers Jim Hanley's Universe, Forbidden Planet Bergen Street Comics, St. Mark's Comics and Manhattan Comics & More with no answer by phone. Even inland New Jersey store Dewey's Comic City is currently closed due to power loss in Madison, NJ. Madison isn't the only town affected -- WTVM reports 606,671 customers are without power in New Jersey and 593,992 are without power in New York with further homes and businesses affected in Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and New Hampshire.

While many New York and New Jersey stores do not seem to be open for business today, select locations, such as Midtown Comics and Forbidden Planet in New York, have taken to Twitter to update customers on the status of distribution, both on-site and online. As of right now, Midtown Comics' Downtown store is without power, but Times Square and Grand Central locations are planned to reopen tomorrow at 11:00 AM, but won't have this week's releases on hand until Thursday at 8:00 AM -- including the free Halloween ComicFest titles. Manhattan Comics & More, as of October 29, planned to open on Halloween to hold an event with "Halloween Eve" creator Amy Reeder, though there have been no updates since. No matter where you shop for comics, be sure to call ahead if your local store is in an affected area -- openings are sure to be sporadic and varied.

Much like the aftermath of any natural disaster, the situation with Sandy is fluid and changes could come at any moment. In the coming days, there will likely be a clearer picture of how the aftermath of the storm will affect publishers, creators, editorial staff, retailers and fans alike. Stay tuned to CBR News for more updates as they occur.

Retailers with updates on the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy can contact CBR Staff Writer Steve Sunu directly via e-mail.

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