The 48-page special will be shipped at no cost to stores.

Seeking to help comic book retailers struggling to deal with the effects of COVID-19, AfterShock Comics has announced the release of Support Our Shops, a special one-off anthology featuring seven all-new stories.

The 48-page issue, which will be shipped at no cost to retailers, features work by 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, behind a cover by David Mack. Each story in the issue centers around the importance of comic book stores in their lives, or the lives of fans.

“This benefit book 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,” AfterShock publisher Joe Pruett said in a statement. “It might be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a hell of a drop in the bucket. These are heartfelt stories, crafted by creators with deep, lasting connections to the comic shops of yesterday, today and, we have no doubt, tomorrow.”

“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,” added SVP of sales and marketing, Steve Rotterdam. “We’ve always been about creators and their visions, so this was an easy decision.”

Twenty copies per storefront will be delivered free of charge to Diamond Comic Distributors’ 200 top-ranked AfterShock accounts, with the next 300 ranked accounts receiving 10 free copies. Any store not included in these 500 places that is looking for copies is invited to contact AfterShock. Copies will arrive with shipments of product with a June 24 on-sale date.

AfterShock is leaving it up to retailers to decide what to do with the anthology once received, with the company suggesting that copies could be given away free to customers, sold as a way to recoup COVID-related losses, or used as an add-on to particular purchase levels.

S.O.S. is our small way of saying ’thank you’ to all of the wonderful stores that have supported AfterShock since the beginning,” editor-in-chief Mike Marts said about the project in his own statement. “Now it’s our turn to give back.”