As planned for over a year, Dark Horse and Image are joining the ranks of “FOC” publishers at Diamond. Already used by Marvel and DC, “Final Order Cut-Off” allows retailer to raise or lower orders right up until print time in accordance with changing factors, such as increased publicity, or negative reaction to previous issues. Diamond’s PR below:

Dark Horse Comics and Image Comics — including Image Central and Top Cow Productions — have announced that they will implement new Final Order Cut-Off (FOC) programs, effective with products carrying an FOC Date of Thursday, April 23.

“We’re very pleased that two more of our Premier Suppliers have joined the FOC system” said Diamond VP-Marketing & Sales Roger Fletcher. “The change is a welcome one for retailers who rely on FOC to adjust their orders and manage their purchasing and buying decisions in a timely manner.”

The new system allows retailers greater flexibility to increase, decrease and even cancel orders up to the FOC date, which will be Thursdays at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. (The same date/time as other participating publishers.) Product will generally reflect FOC Dates with a 20-day adjustment window, meaning that an item carrying the April 23 FOC Date is scheduled to be on sale Wednesday, May 13.

“We are pleased to announce this move to the FOC,” said Dark Horse Comics President Mike Richardson. “As every comics retailer knows, times are tough. It is important that Dark Horse not only support them with great product, but with our best efforts to make their ordering decisions as easy as possible. This system will help every retailer who orders Dark Horse product and should lead to better business for all of us.”

“We’ve been enthusiastic about implementing FOC for quite some time now,” Image Comics Publisher Eric Stephenson said. “FOC allows retailers to test the waters with our all of our new projects, whether they’re by seasoned veterans or comics’ newest names with limited risk while still getting all the benefits of supporting a series from the floorboards up.”

Additionally, Dark Horse and Image products that have not shipped yet are also eligible for adjustments under the new FOC system. A list of qualifying Dark Horse and Image titles can be downloaded from the Vendor Tools section of Diamond Online’s Retailer Services Area.

The switch to FOC Dates also means a change in the schedule for both companies’ weekly e-mailers. Retailers will now receive the weekly Dark Horse Dispatch and Image Comics e-mailer on Mondays, starting April 20. Each will include an attachment with a list of their respective titles on FOC that week, customized to each retailer. Retailers will then be able to adjust orders for either publisher on the My Account page of Diamond Online’s Retailer Services Area, or by contacting their Diamond Customer Service Representative.

The May 2009 PREVIEWS Retailer Order Form will be the first order form with items carrying Dark Horse and Image FOC Dates.

Retailers with further questions about this announcement should contact their Diamond Customer Service Representative.