Holy hell Friday.

In a message on its retailer forum, DC has confirmed that starting with comics available for FOC on June 8, they will no longer be available through Diamond.

DC’s comics will be available through Lunar Distribution and UCS Comics Distributors, the companies that were set up during Diamond’s downtime, as well as Penguin Random House, which has been DC’s book distributor for many years.

Asked for confirmation, a DC spokesperson sent this statement:

“After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship. Moving forward, comic book retailers can obtain their DC books from Penguin Random House, or their books and periodicals through Lunar or UCS comic book distributors. DC continues to be committed to providing the Direct Market with best in class service and the fans with the world’s greatest comic books.”

The mailer included this answer to “Why is DC Doing This?”

DC has been analyzing its Direct Market distribution for some time, long before COVID, specifically in light of sustained stagnant market growth. The timing of the decision to move on from Diamond was ultimately dictated by the fact that DC‘s contract with Diamond has expired, but incidentally, the disruption by COVID to the market has required DC to forge ahead with its larger growth strategies that will benefit both the Direct Market and DC.

Along with the distributor switch, DC will be sticking with Tuesday release for its comics, breaking with the tradition of the Wednesday Warrior.

UPDATED: Books available for FOC on June 8th will instead have their FOC date pushed to June 15th.  Books with on sale dates starting with June 30th will be available via Lunar, UCS and PRH.

Obviously, this is huge, huge news for the comics industry. We’ll have further details and reaction as the industry reacts.

UPDATE: Here’s the letter that went out to DC retailers:

Dear DC Direct Market Retailer,

First and foremost, we hope this finds you safe and well especially during what has been an incredibly challenging year. We are writing today to share with you that DC’s long-standing relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors is coming to a close effective following Diamond’s distribution of product offered on DC’s FOC list of June 1st. We want to thank Steve Geppi and the great people at Diamond for all the years of service.

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.

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.

Moving forward, we will continue our distribution relationship with Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for distribution of periodicals and graphic novels, and Penguin Random House for distribution of graphic novels, worldwide.

We believe this new distribution system will bring you world class service using top of the line and modern systems that will provide you the most efficient operational supply chain. DC will continue to look for ways, together with our new partners, to better serve you and the fans to the best of our ability. We remain committed to the Direct Market and look forward to partnering with you to grow your business and to get the best comic books and graphic novels to the fans in the most efficient and seamless manner.

UPDATE #2: From the UCS website, DC’s FAQ for retailers:

Why is DC doing this now?

DC has been analyzing its Direct Market distribution for some time, long before COVID, specifically in light of sustained stagnant market growth. The timing of the decision to move on from Diamond was ultimately dictated by the fact that DC’s contract with Diamond has expired, but incidentally, the disruption by COVID to the market has required DC to forge ahead with its larger growth strategies that will benefit both the Direct Market and DC.

How do I order my books next week? 

Retailers will need to contact Lunar Distribution, UCS Comic Distributors, or Penguin Random House to receive books with on sale dates beginning 06/30/20 and forward.

What about the books I’ve already ordered through Diamond’s ordering system? Will I still get those?

Retailers who have already ordered titles with a 5/18, 5/25, or 6/1 FOC date should still expect to receive their books through Diamond.  Titles with an FOC date of 6/8 are being moved to 6/15, and all DC titles with FOC dates of 6/15, 6/22, and 6/29 (and beyond) will need to be ordered through one of the three distributors listed above.

I have books to return — where do I send them?

All DC periodicals and graphic novels that were sold to comic book specialty store customers with in-store dates between 4/28/20 – 6/24/20 are returnable to the distributor from which they were ordered. Each of these titles shall become eligible for return during the 30-day window of time specified here, and such titles must be bundled together in shipments as follows. Titles returned after the applicable 30-day window shall not be accepted.

  • Return titles with in-store dates of 4/28, 5/5, & 5/12 should be sent in together beginning 6/26 and received no later than 7/26;
  • Return titles with in-store dates of 5/19 & 5/26 should be sent in together beginning 7/10 and received no later than 8/9;
  • Return titles with in-store dates of 6/2 & 6/9 should be sent in together beginning 7/24 and received no later than 8/23;
  • Return titles with in-store dates of 6/16 & 6/23 should be sent in together beginning 7/23 and received no later than 8/22.

Distributors will provide electronic return authorization labels to cover returns shipping costs.

Customers will receive full credit from the applicable distributor for the return of the titles.  U.S. customers must return full copies in salable condition to the distributor from which they were ordered.  DC will accept affidavit returns from customers located outside the continental United States.   All returns must be accompanied by a Return Authorization Form from your applicable distributor.  DC shall have the right to audit such returns as DC deems necessary.

Which distributor should I use?

Retailers may choose from these three distributors as they like, but we suggest that U.S. and Canadian retailers on the west coast choose Lunar Distribution and those on the east coast choose UCS Comic Distributors to maximize shipping timelines. For retailers outside North America, please choose any of the three distributors.

How does this impact my discount structure? 

Your current discount plateau will remain the same with Lunar and UCS. This discount structure is based on the volume of your purchases.

What about my credit terms?

Credit terms are set with your distributor.

Why is DC committed to having books on sale on Tuesdays, instead of Wednesday?

DC is committed to Tuesday on sale dates so that all our product is offered on the same day in all retail channels.

26 COMMENTS

  1. There seem to be a lot of people that think this is a good move simply because Diamond=bad. I don’t think this will end up being ANYWHERE near that simple.

  2. Since Lunar and DCS, as distributors, essentially exist just to ship out DC books, I assume someone at corporate made it very clear that any future disruption of distribution would likely end DC as a publisher, so they could no longer rely on an outside vendor they didn’t control.

    Mike

  3. “Since Lunar and DCS, as distributors, essentially exist just to ship out DC books, I assume someone at corporate made it very clear that any future disruption of distribution would likely end DC as a publisher, so they could no longer rely on an outside vendor they didn’t control.”

    I guess the problem is that making this change is a HUGE disruption to distribution, likely accelerating the end of print distribution for single issue comics. I mean, DC accounts for over a quarter of Diamond’s business, and that is now gone overnight. The ongoing viability of Diamond has maybe never been more uncertain. A crippled Diamond may not last this rebuilding period the market in is, and then that’s it for every other publisher as far as single print issues are concerned, which would close most stores, which means there’s no one to stock DC print comic books from Lunar or UCS.

  4. I have to think this is a decision an upper executive made. One that thinks very little of the comic market and that it will follow them where ever they go, en mass, at their whim. I doubt this is going to work long term. Only a matter of time before DC has to survive on direct to GN books because I think this is going to kill their floppies dead.

  5. 100 % agree with Jamie here. I also think this may help hasten the demise of many shops already hurting from the pandemic. Either spend more money and time on new distributors (that are al retailers like yourself) or lose money from customers because you no longer carry DC monthly books.

  6. Anyone remember how Heroes World as a distributor worked out for Marvel? Or the one or two Marvel bankruptcies that followed? (I can’t remember the entire timeline on the fly, but I do remember is was a problem for many stores back in the day.)

    Back then, Diamond was able to function for a while without Marvel product, and can probably coast for a while without DC now; but that debacle happened in a much more robust market than currently exists…

    I have to think this will be a serious blow – or even knock out – to many stores that are already on the ropes because of current situation.

    As was mentioned before, will losing 25% plus of Diamond’s monthly listings even allow for enough product moving through the system to keep the wheels from falling off… especially if even a small percentage of stores collapse because of all the crap heaped on top of them?

    Be cool to your local comic book store owner next time you seem them. They might not be around long…

  7. My historical look back is online — click the link in my name to get to it — and notes that UCS is currently selling backstock from Marvel and the others publishers, if the sales charts on its website are correct.

    Diamond could, under the same thinking, sell DC comics obtained elsewhere as back issues. Indeed, Geppi publicly raised the possibility of Diamond selling back issues to retailers at the end of April.

  8. I think the simple truth is Warner’s are not interesting in being in the (monthly) comic book business. So from their corporate point-of-view why would they care about the knock-on effects the decision will have. A year or two from now all they be producing are the OGNs that seem to be doing well for them in bookstores and some digital comics.

  9. And we now know there won’t be any new DC comics for June 30 anyway — UCS announces this is “to allow additional time for retailers to get approved for an account.” Brian Hibbs points out that’s already a skip week for Marvel, so there’s no new Marvels or DCs in advance of the holiday week.

  10. At the very least, this kind of ends the debate on the overall health of the Direct Market. If Diamond can’t survive unless it’s the only distributor for all comic shops, it’s hard to think of a sign that says “Dying Industry” any clearer than that.

    Mike

  11. If any of you get Mile High Comics email, Chuck Rozanski lays it out really well. Yeah floppies will be gone soon from DC, and Im sure Marvel will follow suit.

  12. @Carter – these are businesses that have been taking in large quantities of comics, sorting them out based on orders, and shipping them back out for a long time. This is just an elevation of what they were already doing.

  13. I know who they are. I just think it’s foolish to believe that running a successful mail order business prepares one to scale up to serve the comic shops and the whole direct market.

  14. I read Chuck Rozanski’s newsletter. It was headlined “DC SUCKS!”

    The vitriol that retailers express toward DC and Marvel — without whom they would be out of business, and all their stores closed — is pretty breathtaking. Decades of heavy dependence on two publishers and one distributor has led to a lot of resentments.

  15. “without whom they would be out of business“

    Let’s be clear about something. The Direct Market was created by independent entrepreneurs and SAVED Marvel and DC when they were getting pushed out of the newsstand/magazine rack market. Without the DM, Marvel and DC would not only have had to transition to a different format but there’s no way they could have produced as many books as they did.

    You think something like Vertigo could have existed without the DM to support it before anyone ever heard the name “Neil Gaiman?”

    Mike

  16. @Carter – and I think it’s foolish to believe that the two largest comics mail-order comics retailers, companies that already have large facilities for processing mass orders of comics, would be that different from distributors and have that much trouble upgrading.

  17. “You think something like Vertigo could have existed without the DM to support it before anyone ever heard the name “Neil Gaiman?”

    neil didn’t need comics to be successful. He would have become a major fantasy novelist, anyways.

    And let’s face it: Neil is the ONLY financially successful thing that has come out of Vertigo.

    Vertigo from a financial point of view is a lot like the intersectionality a.k.a. diversity comics being published today. They don’t make any money outside of Schoolastic book fairs but the industry belives in them so much. Representation/diversity is this era’s ” mature comics “–something the entire industry thinks will SAVE IT.

    “Let’s be clear about something. The Direct Market was created by independent entrepreneurs and SAVED Marvel and DC ” . Overwhelmingly, the majority of customers in the Direct Market say they became comic readers because they discovered comic books outside of the Direct Market. The Direct Market allowed them to keep buying comics but did not make them become readers. The number of Direct Market customers keeps shrinking each year. Higher prices cannot hide the reality that the Direct Market’s customers are dying off or have stopped buying comics altogether forever.

  18. “Between this and Funko’s financial trouble, retailers are going to have to do some serious math.”

    If there is genuine demand for comics, all they have to do is use their salesmanship skills to sell what the general public wants.

    If fewer people want to pay to read comic books, they may have to reinvent themselves. They can replace Funko pop dolls with feminist t-shirts, blm t-shirts or provide testing for Corona-19.They could make more money selling those things than selling comic books.

  19. Indie art comics and boutique lines like Vertigo are nice, and certainly get respect from the mainstream press. But the bread-and-butter of most comic shops are Marvel and DC superhero pamphlets. If comic shops couldn’t sell them, most would go out of business.

    There’s a reason why comic shops are often referred to as “superhero convenience stores.”

    The DM saved some comics 40 years ago, but things have changed. There was no such thing as online comics in 1980, or online anything else. And retailers are furious that online exists.

    Comic shops may have to change their business model, unless they want to go the way of Tower Records or Blockbuster Video. If the monthly floppie dies, or becomes a much smaller part of their business, they may have to become more like regular bookstores with their rows of graphic novels and trades. And mail order may have to become a larger part of their business.

  20. I say the DM saved “some comics” because it didn’t save Warren, Gold Key, Harvey and Charlton — publishers that didn’t have popular superhero lines. DM customers wouldn’t buy their comics, so they died in the ’80s.

    I know fans who refuse to read any comic that doesn’t come from Marvel or DC. I don’t think they’re a minority.

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