Diamond Comics Distribution is often seen as a monopoly – but it isn’t. True, it has exclusives with DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and so on….but there are many smaller publishers, indies and small presses, that aren’t Diamond exclusive to the direct market. And a new distribution player has thrown her hat into the ring, to handle books that Diamond isn’t nmble enough to handle.
On the webpage she explains they are starting out small:
Phase One (March 2017) Puget Sound Consignment Management
A lot of Seattle area comic shops buy indie comics wholesale or on consignment. Hooray!
But do you know how much it costs to drive your comics around to sell them? Half a day and about $6.50 in gas and parking, assuming you’re an efficient parking wizard. And if you’re using public transit? The better part of eight hours and $10. Boo! Save time and money by paying a monthly service fee to Emerald.
Whether you have one title or ten, Emerald will bring your comic around to the Puget Sound area comic shops where it will sell best and get it on the shelves. Emerald won’t take a cut of your wholesale sales: all the money you make goes back to you. We’ll send you a monthly sales report and payment.
In an interview at Vanguard Seattle, Bean lays out more of her scheme, and the footwork:
Outsider Comics bills itself as a queer and woman-friendly shop focused on inclusivity and assistance. Just inside the door we’re greeted by racks of high-quality geek-themed clothing by Elhoffer Designs. I’m immediately distracted by a Spider Gwen dress and Captain Marvel hoodie, then entranced by a row of nerdy nail polishes and wraps. Bean discovers their LGBTQ and Civil Rights sections, and I can practically see the heart emojis in her eyes. Target audience acquired.
I join Bean at the counter, where she’s talking distribution with Outsider general manager Andrew Funk. Funk is describing his woes with Diamond’s back-end ordering system—a familiar refrain. I notice a table of indie and local comics with pride of place, right in the center of the room. Even better, their Local Artist comic packs bound in plastic sleeves, like the ones Bean plans to curate. I point them out to her.
“Oh yeah,” she says with a smile. “I think I’m gonna get along with these guys just fine.”
With all the problems with the distribution we have for comics, getting new players in the field is difficult. Despite all the complaining, Diamond Comics does a job that no one else can. The niche Bean is filling is more like the one filled by Tony Shenton, the go to guy for small press distribution. Shenton is an old school rack jobber who employs similar layers of shoe leather to check local shops and fill orders.
I know a lot of publishers swear by Shenton, but the world of comics may be large enough now to support more than one dedicated one person distribution center. It’s a LOT of work, Anne Bean, so good luck!
H/t Comicon.com which gave a lot of play to this story.