DC Comics is cutting ties with Diamond Comics Distributors and will use the two new distributors that came into existence during the coronavirus pandemic to deliver comics to retailers.
Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors, the distributors with ties to comics retailers Discount Comic Book Service and Midtown Comics, will distribute periodicals to stores. Retailers can also order books through Penguin Random House, who handle DC’s trades and graphic novels for the book trade.
“After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship,” a spokesperson from DC told The Hollywood Reporter. “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.”
Here’s the letter DC sent to comics retailers about the change, which details when it will go into effect:
Dear DC Direct Market Retailer,
First and foremost, we hope this finds you safe and well especially during what has been an incredibly challenging year. We are writing today to share with you that DC’s long-standing relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors is coming to a close effective following Diamond’s distribution of product offered on DC’s FOC list of June 1st. We want to thank Steve Geppi and the great people at Diamond for all the years of service.
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.
Moving forward, we will continue our distribution relationship with Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for distribution of periodicals and graphic novels, and Penguin Random House for distribution of graphic novels, worldwide.
We believe this new distribution system will bring you world class service using top of the line and modern systems that will provide you the most efficient operational supply chain. DC will continue to look for ways, together with our new partners, to better serve you and the fans to the best of our ability. We remain committed to the Direct Market and look forward to partnering with you to grow your business and to get the best comic books and graphic novels to the fans in the most efficient and seamless manner.
This is a shocking, but maybe not surprising, change for DC, given the moves we’ve seen from them since April. It also makes sense now why two mail-order comics retailers would set up distribution arms — it didn’t really make much sense, business wide, for them to do that on a short-term basis just during the pandemic.
The other thing to note is that while DC was exclusive with Diamond for about 25 years, they changed the terms of their contract with Diamond about a year and a half ago — well before the pandemic hit.
“DC, in their last contract renewal a year-and-a-half ago, asked to add a clause where they could get out of the exclusive part with 60 days notice with no reason needed. We agreed,” Diamond’s Steve Geppi told Newsarama. “Then the pandemic came on, and they exercised that option. They’re non-exclusive, and that allowed them to sell to those others. That was that.”
How are retailers reacting? Let’s start with Comix Experience owner Brian Hibbs in San Francisco, who was critical of the move when Dc announced they’d be working with Lunar and UCS during the pandemic:
Across the Bay you have Comics Conspiracy owner Ryan Higgins, who reacted to the news on Twitter:
John Jackson Miller has some additional commentary and historical context.
Update: The Beat notes that Diamond will continue to distribute DC’s books to UK retailers through at least the end of this year.