The big comics news of the week is that DC Comics are breaking all ties with Diamond Comics Distributors in three weeks’ time. My first reaction was optimism as after all Diamond’s monopoly has not been a great thing overall for the industry, but the danger lies with Diamond going down (there’s been rumours of their demise for some time) with no replacement distributor on the horizon.
Obviously Covid has pushed whatever plans DC had up to now so we have a point where all DC product will now come from two new distributors to comics which suits their new owners at AT & T. Truth is there’s little money in periodical comics for the big multinational owners of Marvel or DC, barring the creation of new IP who they can exploit to the hilt.
But my early optimism is now vanishing as they could easily switch to a trades only policy, at least for the majority of the line while keeping a few higher profile books going monthly. The logical outcome of that is less risktaking, less new talent, worse books, more big events and a complete stagnation of the superhero genre which, whether we like it or not, still keeps most comic shops going.
At the minute things are still developing. It is worth reading this post by Chuck Rozanski as to where he stands. Also Bleeding Cool is saying UCS (one of the new companies distributing DC) will be distributing old Marvel titles which seems to be old Midtown Comics stock. There’s also a question as to how UK shops will be DC’s titles in future as it’ll cost too much unless you’re putting in a massive order, which may mean a prohibitively high secondary market and the return of the non-distributed title, but it certainly means those lower selling titles people were buying won’t come over here in numbers if at all?
If I was smart and had the capital behind me, I’d be arranging shops into units so they could place more cost-effective orders, or I’d even be talking about opening a central distribution depot if you can get the discount and agreement off DC as they may decide that 10-15% of sales they’ll lose from the UK are worth keeping and open up themselves. I dunno, we shall see but this is not a good time for this to be happening with this much uncertainty just as some reopening of the industry after Covid-19 was happening.