It’s a sign of the times. As things continue to change in a COVID-19/Rioting world, one of the biggest hit industries is the comic book industry. Comic book stores already faced issues with the rise of digital comics, and now the unexpected has happened.
DC Comics, home to characters such as Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman has cut ties with long time distributor Diamond Distributors.
Per The Hollywood Reporter:
The announcement was made via an email to retailers sent Friday morning, with the company telling customers that all orders for DC product will be fulfilled by Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for periodical releases and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.
An email sent to retailers explained, “We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision. However, we can assure you that this change in DC’s distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC’s overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.”
The message continued, “In the near term, Diamond will only be fulfilling orders placed through June 1 Final Order Cut-Off and will not solicit the sale of new DC titles further. To ensure a smooth transition for retailers, DC will suspend Final Order Cut-Off for June 8, making those books available to order on Final Order Cut-Off on June 15.”
DC’s periodical product had, until earlier this year, been exclusively distributed by Diamond Comic Distributors, which holds a virtual monopoly on comic book distribution in the North American market. Following Diamond’s decision to close down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, followed by Diamond announcing that it would withhold payment to publishers, citing cash flow problems, DC announced plans to find alternative distribution.
The company eventually settled on two newly created companies — Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors — to handle periodical distribution while Diamond was closed. All parties involved, including DC and Diamond, publicly stated that DC would continue to release product through Diamond when the latter resumed distribution in late May.
Some comic book store owners are taking this as a massive betrayal from one of the biggest comic book company in the business.
“It was a nice gut punch after we just reopened our doors for the first time in two months,” said J.C. Glindmyer, owner of Earthworld Comics in Albany, N.Y. of Friday’s surprise news. “As most retailers, I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face, I’ll order for my regulars, the minimum for racks, but [I’m] not putting any significant resources in their future projects.”
“The timing of this is terrible and shows a blatant disregard for concerns of comics sellers,” said Benn Ray of Atomic Books in Baltimore. “So I say this as a lifelong DC Comics fan as well as a retailer — screw you, DC Comics. I wish them every bit as well as Marvel did when they did this back in the ’90s. Whoever is calling the shots at DC, if there is anyone, should be sacked immediately.”
“I just don’t have a respectful comment,” said Bret Parks, owner of three Ssalefish Comics locations in Winston Salem, Greensboro, and Concord, N.C. “I can’t think of anything useful or positive about this. I just wish DC would go away or fire their sales team and start over.”
“This is an insane bombshell,” wrote Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience in San Francisco in a Facebook post.
“They are handling this about as well as Captain Hook being a proctologist,” said Ryan Seymore of Comic Town in Columbus, Ohio. “There has been no transparency or heads up, and at times it has felt like we have been lied to.”
With the shift in distributors, this will greatly affect comic book stores, what little of them are left. It will be nearly impossible for brick and mortar stores to make any kind of profit with out the discounts from Diamond.
Just another nail hammered into brick and mortar comic book stores…