AfterShock Comics has announced plans for a special anthology to be offered free to comic shops, as a way to to help them mitigate the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses.
Support Our Shops (S.O.S.) is a 48-page anthology that "celebrates the central and critical role that comic shops have always played in fostering a love of the medium among fans – many of whom have gone on to become creators in their own right," according to publisher Joe Pruett.
Creators participating in this anthology include Cullen Bunn, Stephanie Phillips, Zac Thompson, Steve Orlando, Jamie McKelvie, Jerry Ordway, Aaron Douglas, Leila Leiz, Don Kramer, Szymon Kudranski, Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, Gordon Purcell, and Cliff Richards.
AfterShock will give 20 free copies of the anthology to the 200 comic shops who have historically ordered the most from the publisher. The next 300 comic shops will receive 10 free copies each. Stores not in AfterShock's top 500 are encouraged to ask for copies.
"It might be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a hell of a drop in the bucket," Pruett said in the announcement. "These are heartfelt stories, crafted by creators with deep, lasting connections to the comic shops of yesterday, today and, we have no doubt, tomorrow."
The publisher is not restricting how comic shops sell these books, stating they can be given away free, used as a purchase incentive, or sold for any price point the retailer wishes.
“Speaking and connecting with hundreds of comic shops regarding the challenges they face – as an overall retail channel and as individual and independent business owners – we felt an obligation to give something back, something that was uniquely AfterShock," the company's senior VP of sales and marketing Steve Rotterdam said. "We’ve always been about creators and their visions, so this was an easy decision."
AfterShock's S.O.S. anthology is scheduled to be available June 24. The publisher hasn't provided any specifics for readers about which shops will carry the title, or if a digital edition is planned.