DC Cut Ties with Diamond Comic Distributors

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In an attempt at a Friday news dump, DC Comics will no longer be distributed by the industry-leading comics distributor, Diamond Comics Distributors. The announcement was made in an email sent to retailers Friday morning.

Instead, DC has instructed retailers to fulfill products through Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for monthly comics and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.

Retailers have responded negatively, tearing the comic publisher apart. One described the decision as a “bloodbath.” So far, DC has not responded to retailer criticism. Lunar and UCS are sister companies of two comic retailers, forcing stores to add profits to competition. DC claimed the move was to “improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.” It’s unknown and unclear how the cutting of a distribution channel will grow fans worldwide.

The email claims that the new decision allows for an “efficient operational supply chain,” though again, having to deal with multiple contacts for distribution (now at least three) isn’t exactly optimal.

Retailers have expressed anger and frustration as the decision will increase costs for them and seems to be a move to eventually move out of the direct market. It is absolutely a move to be less reliant on it.

One retailer told us:

DC Comics is a prime example of wartime profiteering in 2020. Publishers — if you want an example of how to appear tone deaf in the middle of two global crisis, look no further than DC Comics and their actions since March.

Another retailer told us:

This action is not about breaking a monopoly, or they wouldn’t be reducing the distribution options. This decision reeks of men in suits with no connection to comics as an industry or art form making decisions with mo respect for it.

This is a direct threat to the periodicals market, and there is no rational reason for this action other than a shift away from publishing periodicals and moving purely to digital and OGN formats.

Putting this decision out at any time is atrocious. Fling it in the middle of a pandemic and national unrest is nothing short of insulting

Diamond will be fulfilling orders through June 1 and will not solicit DC titles further. DC had been exclusively distributed through Diamond until earlier this year. After Diamond shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, DC announced plans to find alternate distribution methods and announced a partnership with Lunar and UCS which were spun up as businesses in April. Multiple smaller publishers have also made the decision to no longer distribute through Diamond.

Some excellent thoughts on the arrangement by DC with the two new distributors can be heard by our friends at the Tales From the Comic Shop podcast:

DC has been consistently the second biggest publisher in the market with roughly 30% of units and dollars sold through Diamond. The move comes in curious decisions over the past year including making it more difficult for press to review comics, which is the antithesis of helping to “grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide,” and seems to have decreased the number of reviews gathered by aggregate sites.

The decision is perplexing.

You can read the message to retailers below: