Diamond sent out a press release yesterday confirming that Fantagraphics is going exclusive to the comic shop trades with Diamond. You can read the whole thing in the jump. While Norton’s exclusive with FBI to bookstroes remains untouched, Diamond Books will sell them in Canada. The main reasons for the move are covered in a very lengthy report at The Comics Reporter, including the ability to offer a higher discount to comics shops, and the growing costs of selling direct to over 3000 retailers. Or as Tom sums up:

As for why Fantagraphics made this move, the fundamental reason is likely to be found in what they describe as the declining fortunes of the DM side of their overall business and what they as a small company with limited resources is able to invest in that side of their business in order to give it the best chance running smoothly and perhaps enabling it to grow.

As much sense as it makes, there is a feeling that you can’t escape the Diamond monopoly any more, and that just doesn’t make sense on principle. Chris Butcher leads the loyal opposition:

We really wish that Fantagraphics had consulted us as their retail partners before they made this move, because we would have said “Good God No, Don’t Do It.” We’re very sympathetic to the general indifference of the Direct Market to good comics, including those that Fantagraphics publishes, and we understand the reasons they made their decision. Speaking from our point of view though, we like the opportunity to deal directly with Fantagraphics, because if Fanta has a book in print, then they will have it in stock. That is not the case with Diamond. Even on the largest publishers that have moved their Direct Market business exclusive with Diamond, publishers like Viz and Tokyopop, our fill rates on in-print books are less than adequate. We hope that Fanta knows what they’re in for on that front.

Diamond Comic Distributors is pleased to announce it has cemented an exclusive distribution deal with Fantagraphics Books to exclusively distribute their products to comic book, game, and specialty store market outlets worldwide.

As a result of this exclusive arrangement, Diamond customers will receive an increased discount on Fantagraphics titles, which were formerly available primarily at an F discount (lower of 45% or Standard Discount), but will now be offered at an E discount (lower of 50% or Standard Discount). Furthermore, this new relationship will allow Diamond to stock the full range of Fantagraphics titles in deeper quantities, resulting in increased fill rates for retailers. Another bonus to stores already carrying a wide selection of Fantagraphics Books will be the ability to combine shipping with other product ordered through Diamond, effectively cutting retailers’ expenses on shipping (as opposed to ordering direct from the publisher).

Diamond and Fantagraphics Books have had a longstanding relationship in the comic book specialty market, going back over 25 years of distributing Fantagraphics’ award-winning graphic novels and comics. Fantagraphics Books has become the leading publisher of alternative or “art” comics in North America. The company was a vocal proponent of comics as an authentic artistic expression since 1976 when it began publishing The Comics Journal, a magazine devoted to the history and aesthetics of cartooning. By the early 1980s, Fantagraphics found itself at the forefront of the burgeoning movement to carve out a place for comics in popular culture next to fiction, film, and music. Fantagraphics has gained an international reputation for the consistency of its high editorial and production standards and the range of its publishing program — from Charles Schulz and Jules Feiffer to Daniel Clowes and the Hernandez Brothers.

“This new relationship with Diamond in the Direct Market will better serve retailers in every way,” said Fantagraphics Publicity Director Eric Reynolds. “They will get a better discount, better shipping rates, and have our entire backlist available for immediate reorder. It will also free up some resources here to focus more concertedly on the direct market.”

“We’re pleased that Fantagraphics has decided to expand our relationship and entrust us with such critical parts of their business,” said Diamond Vice President of Purchasing Bill Schanes. “We look forward to working with Fantagraphics as they truly embody the true art and expression that is the comics and graphic novels medium.”

Additionally, Diamond was also awarded the rights to exclusively distribute Fantagraphics Books products to the Canadian book market under the banner of its sister company, Diamond Book Distributors. Fantagraphics will continue to be represented to the U.S. book market by W.W. Norton & Co.


  1. Though I’ve no particular recollection of the JOURNAL’s news coverage of previous Diamond exclusivity deals where they pertained to other companies (as per Chris Butcher’s reference), said news items and/or editorials might make interesting reading now.

    “Those who do not remember the past are doomed to have their asses bitten off by it.”

  2. * they have grandfathered in their relationships with Last Gasp and Bud Plant, both of whom do business with DM retailers. Eric Reynolds of Fantagraphics told CR that these were the last two DM distributors with whom Fantagraphics had a relationship that wasn’t Diamond.

    Wel…. okay then.

    Looking for Fantagraphics back stock? … http://www.havendistro.com

  3. I like how Gene begins his post about “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat” it by admitting he doesn’t remember what he’s talking about. Brilliant.

  4. I meant no disrespect to Haven in my comment Lance quoted. Haven hasn’t been around long enough for us to have really established a relationship, unfortunately. I do hope they thrive, though.

  5. ‘I like how Gene begins his post about “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat” it by admitting he doesn’t remember what he’s talking about. Brilliant.’

    I said I didn’t remember the specifics of JOURNAL coverage of earlier exclusivity deals, but I don’t doubt that some sort of coverage took place. And it would be “interesting” to read that coverage in light of recent events, whether the coverage was positive, negative, or even neutral.

    Without looking, Eric, can you recall the *specific* issue in which the JOURNAL covered the deal Butcher referenced: the Image-Dark Horse contraxcts? If so, I’ll concede that your memory’s better than mine.

  6. I also love how on every Fantagraphics-related message thread on the Internet, you can count on Statler and Waldorf — I mean Gene Phillips and Alan Coil — to chime in with their well-informed opinions. Maybe we’ll publish a book one day, fellas.

  7. I don’t believe I’d be interested in publishing a book with comics journalism’s version of Geraldo Rivera.

    There might be a book’s worth of material about how often the JOURNAL’s put its foot in its mouth, though.

  8. “I don’t believe I’d be interested in publishing a book with comics journalism’s version of Geraldo Rivera.”

    Can I use this to stave off the stampede of Gene Phillips fans who have been hounding us to do this?

  9. Wow, for people who make their living critiquing others who don’t meet their standards, ya’ll sure are thin-skinned.


    The truth is that you’re so starved for attention that you want me to look up the issue numbers you so helpfully provided, and to heap greater denigration upon you.

    Hey, depending on whether I kept those issues, I’m happy to oblige.

    I can resist anything but a charity case.

  10. monopolies are not good things. I can’t fault Fanta for wanting the best deal for themselves, but hopefully, everyone’s folly in relying on ONE company for distribution will one day come to fruition and a new business structure will begin.

  11. Seriously?

    “Can I use this to stave off the stampede of Gene Phillips fans who have been hounding us to do this?”

    Is this a Journalista denigrating someone else– anyone else– on the basis of a lack of POPULARITY?

    The shame.

  12. Well, I did look through my old issues. There’s no writeup about exclusives in #161, and since I don’t have #160, I have no way of knowing whether or not Eric Reynolds or anyone else wrote scathingly of those earlier exclusives.

    I did find a few other items suggestive of disapproval, but it hardly matters. I don’t have any problem with anyone critiquing exclusives, or Diamond Distribution.

    I would think it a contradiction IF a writer had run down Dark Horse taking an exclusive for pure business reasons, but had no problem with Fanta doing the same, also for business reasons.

    However, if a writer had avoided that possible pitfall way back when, that too would have been exactly what I called it: “interesting.”

    I suppose my snarky version of the Santayana quote might have led some to assume that I could mean only “interesting in a way that makes the JOURNAL look bad.” Not quite– though the piece by Butcher may have predisposed me to think the JOURNAL might regret the move.