A few weeks ago Diamond announced plans to reopen their warehouses for distribution in mid-May. Now the main distributor of single-issue comics in North America has announced to retailers a target on-sale date of May 20th for the return of new comics to store shelves.
In the statement, Diamond acknowledged the complexity of the situation, with many retailers across the country closed as a result of stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As all of you are aware, however, we find ourselves in a fluid situation and there are many factors including quarantine measures, what services retailers are able to offer and the volume of orders that have the potential to effect whether we are able to meet this date. That said, we have heard your concerns and agree that taking these steps toward resuming distribution is a positive, important step in our collective move forward.
We are providing this target date to allow you as much time as possible to communicate with your customers and gather the information you need to order appropriately for your store and customer base.
The news comes on the same day that DC Comics, through alternate distributors UCS and Lunar Distribution, releases its first batch of new comics in nearly a month. The move by DC ruffled many a retailer’s feathers, and led to questions about the future of distribution for DC Comics in a post-COVID-19 shutdown world, with Diamond going so far as to issue a statement clarifying they would still be distributing DC Comics once they reopened for business.
Retailers will have until next Monday, May 4th, to finalize their orders for titles shipping on May 20th. The list of titles slated for release that day won’t be final until this Friday, but it appears to primarily consist of titles that would have been released on April 1st, save for the DC Comics titles; according to Diamond’s announcement, “All DC Comics titles released during [Diamond’s] pause in distribution will be included in the first shipment of new, weekly product.”
Does the return of weekly single-issue comics signal the return of some sort of normalcy to the direct market? With the aforementioned store closures due to COVID-19, that seems unlikely, though it will surely be nice for stores with robust mail-order and curbside pickup options to have new product available on a regular basis again. Keep an eye on The Beat as more information about this developing situation becomes available.