In a moment of uncertainty, shock, and catching many comic book retailers and shops off guard, DC Comics unexpectedly ended their partnership with Diamond Comic Distributor – the biggest comic book distributor in North America and around the world.
In a story reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the publisher and company responsible for printing and releasing stories featuring Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League expressed their decision through a spokesperson: “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.”
In an email sent to retailers on Friday, DC announced that they have decided not to continue their partnership with Diamond, and will instead distribute their books and products via their three choices – Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for periodic releases, and Penguin Random House for their graphic novels and collected edition titles.
“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.” DC’s decision to move away from their partnership with Diamond has caused a tectonic shift in the comic retail industry – particularly international markets that
have built and established a system with the distributor for the past two decades.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Diamond – which holds a monopoly on comic distribution that includes competitors like Marvel Comics, Image Comics, and IDW publishing – had to shutter its doors temporarily and cease distribution on mid-March due to the pandemic. After announcing that and withholding payment due to cash flow problems, DC decided to move to other distributors – USC Comic Distributors and Lunar Distribution – to handle their products while Diamond was closed.
Evidently that became a permanent decision on DC’s part, and the move has been looked at by many as a ‘stab in the back” and “corporate greed” at work. It should be noted that DC Comics and its parent company Warner Bros. are now owned by AT&T – suggesting the idea that the new owners are not happy with the current structure of the comic market and want to change things according to their whims.
With international markets clearly affected and thrown into a spin, the Philippines is no exception to having to adjust to the changes made by DC Comics’ decision. Well known comic book stores and retailers in Metro Manila such as Comic Odyssey, Planet X Comics, Filbar’s, Comic Quest, and Druid’s Keep have long served faithful customers and comic book collectors by ordering their favorite books via Diamond Comic Distributors. Now, they’ll have to find new channels and ways to get DC books through the new companies the publisher has signed up with – not an easy task given the state the world is in these days.
Sandy Sansolis, owner and head of local comic book and retail shop Comic Odyssey, weighed in his thoughts in a Facebook post while sharing an article from Bleeding Cool that touches on the effects DC’s decision has made: “What DC has just done to the direct market is corporate greed at its best. DC gave retailers very little warning, made an announcement at end of day Friday, and expects retailers to open accounts with new distributors in a week’s time, all during a pandemic! It is particularly hard for international retailers such as myself, who already have to jump through many hoops, just to get the weekly new comics shipments.”
Creator, comic book store owner, and recent visitor to the Philippines Mike Wellman of Atomic Basement shared his disappointment on the move via Bleeding Cool: “This is such a disgusting and ill-timed move on behalf of DC Comics. With all of the turmoil that comic book stores are facing, that THE WORLD is facing, to take their solicitations off the board right now is obnoxious and short sighted. While I’m not one for monopolies, I think that Diamond Comics did the exact right thing by ending product flow while our nation was under quarantine. The last thing I needed was weekly thousand dollar shipments while our stores were shut down.
“This is a very selfish move for DC and those other two parties involved at a time like
this. Keeping the trains running is our best bet at this juncture and for DC to do this
right now… I might as well just send them a link to Midtown, because that’s what this
is. In protest, every DC Comic on my shelf tomorrow is $1.00. This excludes the recent
hot Batman issues, but everything else can go.”