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Marvel Goes Exclusive with Penguin Random House for Direct Market Distribution

Penguin Random House and Marvel

Marvel Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS), a division of Penguin Random House, have announced an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement for Marvel’s newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to comics shops, known as the Direct Market. PRHPS officially begins its distribution to Direct Market retailers for all Marvel titles starting October 1.

Marvel has chosen PRHPS as its distribution partner to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers. Penguin Random House is known for its state-of-the-art multi-ranging services that enable independent booksellers to increase efficiency and profitability.

Penguin Random House has long been committed to physical retail in order to foster and grow their market. Independently owned brick-and-mortar bookstores are local community builders, advocates for books, and passionate influencers for the industry.

After seeing a double-digit percentage in closures of physical bookstores from 2001 to 2011, and notwithstanding an anticipated rise in e-books, PRH significantly extended and expanded its outreach to physical retail. Through its robust supply chain of rapid direct shipping, greater access to data, and premier customer service, PRH helped support healthier margins that led to a market turnaround. These past experiences and learnings will be invaluable when adapting for today’s physical retailers in the Direct Market.

Penguin Random House is a free-freight company, allowing retailers to simplify their business models while alleviating the volatility and complexity of reducing freight costs and planning. Through many of PRH’s standard offerings, like its rapid replenishment program for graphic novels and advanced supply chain, Direct Market retailers will experience more flexibility to manage inventory and stock their stores to best serve their customers.

Direct Market retailers can choose to order Marvel products direct from PRH, or alternatively, through Diamond as a wholesaler under terms established by Diamond in the US and the UK. Hachette Book Group will continue to manage distribution of Marvel’s graphic novels and trade collections to the book market.

Marvel’s full print and online October Marvel Previews catalog and comic book solicits will be available in July and distributed by PRHPS to active accounts. All comic book and trade orders for titles going on sale this October should be made through PRHPS. Early solicit titles will be available for order starting on May 26. Retailers can open PRHPS accounts now to register for Marvel’s monthly title catalogs and solicits, which will continue to be available to retailers approximately three months ahead of on sale.

The last year has been a rough when it comes to distribution. COVID forced Diamond to shut down for an extended time period resulting in DC Comics to pull their deal and go to two other distributors (which is now consolidated back to one). Other publishers have also pulled their distribution from Diamond often choosing to sell directly to stores and/or consumers instead.

With yet another distributor to contend with, comic shops will likely suffer by the decision. A third ordering system will increase time to order and manage purchases, labor costs will increase and it’s unknown how margins will be impacted for them. Overall, this sounds like a decision that’s good for Marvel but the impact on stores is a big unknown.

Viacom CBS sells Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House

Simon & Schuster

There’s potentially a new mega-publisher as ViacomCBS has struck a deal to sell Simon & Schuster to Penguin Random House. The deal is for more than $2 billion. Penguin Random House is owned by the German media conglomerate Bertelsmann. The deal is not a given as Simon & Schuster is the third largest publisher and the purchase raises antitrust concerns.

If the deal fales, ViacomCBS has a termination fee that Bertelsmann would need to pay. The deal will go before the Biden administration which may be tougher than the current Trump administration but we’ll see.

Simon & Schuster is actually doing well as revenue grew to $649 million through September, an 8% increase, and profit before tax increased by 6% to $115 million. The deal allows ViacomCBS to pay down its $21 billion dept and keep up dividend payments to shareholders. The move is one that’s being seen across the media landscape as megacorporations make cuts or sell divisions to cut costs and pay down debts after large acquisitions.

The deal has a ripple effect in the comic industry as well. Simon & Schuster is the exclusive distributor of BOOM! Studios, Oni Press, and Rebellion to bookstores. Penguin Random House is the exclusive distributor of DC Comics, Dark Horse, and IDW Publishing graphic novels to bookstores. The merger consolidates a distribution channel which has a potentially negative impact on negotiations between publishers and distributors but creates a more favorable position between the distributor and retailers.

Ironically, the comic industry has had concerns over distribution monopolies for years with Diamond Comic Distributors cornering the direct market to comic shops for years until 2020. DC Comics ended their exclusive deal with Diamond splitting distribution between UCS Comic Distributors and Lunar Distribution. DC ended its distribution through UCS creating a new “monopoly” through Lunar and creating a $500 minimum monthly order. Now, if this merger goes through, the bookstore distribution options will shrink narrowing choices though we’ll see if similar concerns are raised by the industry as have been raised in the past.

Random House Graphic is Hosting an All-Day Comic Contest During PRH Virtual Con

Penguin Random House is connecting with fans by hosting Virtual Con! Mark your calendars for April 24, and get ready for author AMAs, exclusive content, giveaways, an interactive #GeekGeekRevolution game show, and more! The event runs from 9 A.M.–7 P.M. EDT! You can follow #PRHVirtualCon all day long!

Who loves comics?! We sure do! This is why during the virtual con, Random House Graphic is hosting a family-friendly event—RH GRAPHIC LOVES ART NERDS! On April 24, RH Graphic will be hosting an all-day comic contest to encourage families, comics lovers, and everyone in between to show us their own graphic novel cover sketch! Grab a pencil, paper, and anything else you might need and join us in celebrating this fantastic medium.

Here’s how to join: It’s simple! Think of what your comic story would be, give it a title, draw the cover, and snap a picture to post on social. You must share your post on Friday, April 24 to be entered.

Where to post: You can post on Twitter OR Instagram!

Who to tag: Make sure to use #RHGArtNerdContest and tag @RHKidsGraphic and @RandomHouseKids.

The prize: A deluxe package of graphic novels from Random House Graphic and Random House Children’s Books, plus some bonus goodies! (Please note: due to current events, the prize delivery may be delayed.)

Join the RH Graphic social channels throughout the day to see RH Graphic creators sharing their own graphic novel creation process. We will also be sharing bonus content from current and upcoming titles. 

“RH Graphic Loves Art Nerds” Logo created by Lucy Knisley @LucyKnisley (Stepping Stones, Relish, Kid Gloves)


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter April 24, 2020 only. Open to US residents, 13 and older. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. See Official Rules at https://www.rhkidsgraphic.com/2020/04/14/rhgartnerdcontest-official-rules/ for full details. 

Square Enix is Launching a U.S. Publishing Line for Comics, Books, and Art Books

Square Enix

This fall, the worlds of Square Enix are coming to comics, books, and art books. The video game publisher has announced a deal with Penguin Random House Publisher Services. They’ll bring iconic game properties like Space Invaders, Final Fantasy, and Tomb Raider to the American market under their own banner for the first time. Currently, some of these properties have comics and manga released from other publishers.

In Japan, Square Enix is more than a video company. They also release books, magazines, and manga, so it’s not a stretch for them to bring their material to the U.S. themselves.

The new line will launch this fall with one prose book, Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future, and three manga: Hi Score Girl, A Man and His Cat, and the complete edition of Soul Eaters.

Review: Daddy Cool

When it comes to stories about hitmen, they usually cross genres these days, the very premise usually pulls people in. One of my favorite John Cusack movies, Grosse Pointe Blank, was about a hitman who was a having a crisis of conscience while rekindling an old flame and staying alive despite the many attacks of Dan Ackroyd’s army of assassins. The movie was probably his best in years and proved that the genres of comedy and thriller can exist in the same story. As original a concept that was, not too many movies replicated its success.

Of course, the stories that usually captures people’s attention, is the serious thrillers, where the protagonists act as predator and prey. One of the most underrated movies which showed this in the sleekest way, was Enemy At The Gateswhich was more about the competition between two military snipers on opposite ends but contained elements of a thriller. It is rare for a book to both grip you and make you think, and it is even more electrifying when it is action packed. This is exactly what I found when I read Donald Goines‘ Daddy Cool.

We meet Daddy Cool, a hitman, who has a knack for close combat kills, and his weapon of choice are knives, something that he is very good at and becomes his calling card. A he tries to balance work and family, he finds his daughter, Janet, growing up way too fast, as she runs away with her boyfriend. By the time Daddy Cool finds out she skipped the town, he gets another call for a hit. Meanwhile, as she leaves town, she soon realizes that life on her own, is not as nice as when she was under father’s care, running into some conspicuous characters. Soon her boyfriend, Ron, turns into a prostitute, to make his ends meet, which sends Janet down a long spiral. As Daddy Cool, gets closer to finding her, he takes on a few more hits, ones where his work matters. Soon Daddy Cool, finds Janet, as he tries to steer her away from her boyfriend, but she stays with him despite Daddy Cool’s pleading. AS Daddy Cool decides to retire, he takes one last hit, taking out a group of thugs who sodomized a family  and raped a 13 year old girl, as he shows these goons, no mercy. By book’s end, Janet finds finally comes to her senses and kills Ron, with a knife, just like Daddy Cool showed her to.

Overall, a substantial and courageous tale about the lure of street life, as Randy Crawford sang, “It’s the only life I know”. The story by Goines is intense, action packed and melodramatic. The art by Alcala is very much of the time, but still gorgeous. Altogether, the type of story that rarely gets turned into a graphic novel but should more often.

Story: Donald Goines Art: Alfredo P. Alcala and Jesse Dena
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day tomorrow! What are folks excited for?

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – Transformers Pens Are More Than Meets The Eye – I want! That Nemesis Prime one is so cool.

CBR – “Constantine” Scheduled for Late October Debut – Around Halloween, and pretty sure that’s when Grimm debuted last year.

The Beat – Legendary Comics teams with Penguin Random House for three more titles – Where is my Pacific Rim ongoing!!!!

Complex Popculture – Shut Yo’ Mouth: “Shaft” Is Returning As A Comic Book – I can dig it.


Around the Tubes Reviews

ScienceFiction.com – Avengers #30

CBR – Harbinger #23

CBR – Ms. Marvel #4