Mail Call | Green Lantern Tai Pham returns in a new graphic novel next year

A round-up of recent announcements from DC, Marvel, IDW, Image, Diamond and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

Tai Pham, the Green Lantern that debuted in the pages of the Green Lantern: Legacy graphic novel, will return in 2022 in Green Lantern: Alliance.

Pham’s adventures will once again be told by Minh Lê and artist Andie Tong, as he once again comes face-to-face with his nemesis, Xander Griffin, but this time he’ll have some help from a new Kid Flash.

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Mail Call | New release dates for the Milestone revival

Catch up on news and announcements from Dark Horse, Vault Comics, DC, Z2 and more.

Mail Call is a roundup of the announcements we’ve received from comics publishers in our mailboxes recently that we haven’t already covered. Hit the links for more information.

DC Comics has modified their plans for the upcoming Milestone Media relaunch. The three launch titles — Static, Icon and Rocket, and Hardware — will no longer arrive digitally before they come out in print. Instead, they’ll be released in both formats on the same day, as well as on DC Universe Infinite. Both Static and Icon and Rocket will come out later, but Hardware will be published earlier than originally announced. The new dates (and creative teams for each title) are:

  • Static: Season One, written by Vita Ayala, with layouts by CHRISCROSS, finishes by Nikolas Draper-Ivey with covers by Khary Randolph launches in print and digital on June 15.
  • Icon and Rocket: Season One, co-written by Reggie Hudlin and Leon Chills, with art by Doug Braithwaite and covers by Taurin Clarke launches in print and digital on July 27.
  • Hardware: Season One, written by Brandon Thomas, with art by Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz with covers by Mateus Mahanini, launches in print and digital on August 10.
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Marvel teams with Penguin Random House Publisher Services as its direct market distributor

Marvel signs an exclusive distribution deal with the publishing house, that begins in October.

Marvel has announced a new agreement with Penguin Random House Publisher Services to distribute their comics and graphic novels to the direct market, beginning Oct. 1.

The deal is “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.”

This effectively replaces Diamond Comics Distributors as Marvel’s route to comic book stores. Diamond, however, will still act as a wholesaler and will receive product through Penguin, so retailers can still choose to order Marvel’s products through them.

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Looking Back | COVID and Comics

The COVID-19 pandemic made 2020 a bumpy year for the comics industry.

Today we kick off a series that looks back at the biggest news trends of 2020, starting with the COVID-19 pandemic and how it impacted the world of comics. Watch for more posts all this week.

COVID-19 was already on the radar when I attended C2E2 on the last weekend of February 2020, but it was still just a vague shadow in the distance. There were only a handful of cases in the U.S., but we knew more were coming. Some folks Tweeted that they wouldn’t be hugging or even shaking hands, but most people went ahead anyway, happy to see old friends after a long winter apart. The folks at McCormick Place put in extra hand sanitizer stations. And since China was already coming out the other side of their epidemic, I spoke to a couple of publishers about how the brief shutdown over there had affected their schedules. Like many of the 95,000 attendees, I roomed with friends I hadn’t seen in months, had lunch and dinner with more friends, attended panels in rooms that held 200 or more, and walked around the crowded convention floor.

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Diamond announces date for Free Comic Book Day 2021

Mark your calendar for Aug. 14 and cross your fingers.

Diamond Comics Distributors has announced that Free Comic Book Day will return in 2021 on Aug. 14. While FCBD has traditionally been held in May in the past, the release notes that it’s being moved to August “in the hopes that much of the uncertainty and disruption related to COVID-19 will have passed.”

The 2021 event will be the 20th time local comic shops will host Free Comic Book Day. The idea was conceived by Joe Field, owner of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California.

“I am so happy to be making this announcement today and so proud of our work with retailers and vendors these last 20 years to bring more awareness to the comic books we all love,” said Steve Geppi, President, Chairman & CEO of Geppi Family Enterprises. “In the past two decades, fans have experienced some truly remarkable Free Comic Book Day events because of the commitment of our partners to create an incredible celebration of comics. It’s such an energizing day and we look forward to making our 20th anniversary celebration the best one yet!”

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Comics Lowdown | More allegations against CBLDF’s Brownstein brought to light

Plus: News on Diamond, Art Spiegelman, Dragon Con and more.

Writing for The Comics Journal, Michael Dean has a long article detailing additional allegations against Charles Brownstein, the former executive director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Dean spoke with many former CBLDF, employees, including former Development Manager Cheyenne (Shy) Allott, who had been under an NDA about her time at the CBLDF until recently.

“My trouble with Charles started three days into my employment, at ComicsPro in Memphis, Tennessee,” Allott said. “Upon arrival at the show, I went to check into my hotel room only to discover that Charles had booked us in the same room together. I was instantly uncomfortable with this arrangement and for the first time, I saw Charles drop his charming facade and switch into an accusatory tone. He stated that it wasn’t fiscally responsible for me to have my own room, as we were a non-profit. I felt like I was misusing funds simply by asking that question.” Brownstein did not respond to TCJ’s request for comment.

The Comics Journal also sent questions to the CBLDF board, which CBLDF President Christina Merkler responded to. You can read her responses here, but one thing she addressed was whether CBLDF was still viable — a question many have been asking over the last couple weeks:

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Comics Lowdown | Geppi resumes duties as president of Diamond’s parent company

Plus: News on #BacktheComeback, TCAF, Heavy Metal, Thought Bubble and the first graphic novel to win the Wodehouse Prize and have a pig named after it.

Diamond Comics Distributor’s parent company has a new president, kind of. Stan Heidmann, the president/COO of Geppi Family Enterprises who took that role about a year ago, will depart the company as Steve Geppi resumes the role. Geppi has been serving as Chairman and CEO since Heidmann joined the company.

“Under my guidance, the executive leadership team will support a comprehensive strategic review to position the enterprise for future growth,” Geppi said in the message posted to the Diamond website. “I feel a tremendous responsibility to our employees and the industry, and I fully intend to set all Geppi Family Enterprise brands on a path for robust growth. I am confident we have the right leadership with talented teams in place and I see enormous opportunities for GFE.”

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Comics Lowdown: Can Disney stop cops from using the Punisher symbol?

Plus: News on Al Jaffe, Uncivilized Books, awards and more.

With police brutality once again in the public eye, many fans on social media have called out Disney/Marvel to put their litigious muscles to work and prevent cops from using the Punisher logo — a popular emblem with some members of law enforcement, despite the fact that Frank Castle is a criminal and a killer.

First, you can find some history of both the character and its popularity with police here. That piece’s writer, Brian Cronin, is not only a contributor to CBR, but also a lawyer, and he offers his thoughts on why he doesn’t think Disney would have much success in an article titled “There’s Not Much Marvel Can Do About Cops Using Punisher’s Logo.” Cronin writes:

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Diamond, others respond to DC’s direct market decision

Retailers, publishers and industry react to DC dropping Diamond as a distributor.

DC’s announcement that they’ve ended their relationship with Diamond Comics Distributors in favor of working with Lunar and UCS, the two distributors that sprung into being during the coronavirus pandemic, sent shockwaves through the industry yesterday.

Diamond founder Steve Geppi responded to the news with a message of his own to retailers:

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DC Comics drops Diamond as they shift completely to Lunar, UCS

After 25 years, DC will distribute their comics to shops without the help of the industry’s traditional distributor.

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.”

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Call it a comeback: Diamond launches retailer-focused campaign

The comics distributor launches a social media campaign called #BacktheComeback, with plans to hold a charity auction this summer.

As they prepare to start shipping comics to retailers again, Diamond Comics Distributors has announced a new campaign to “shine a light on the unique relationship consumers have with their local comic and game retailers while raising funds to support restart efforts.” Called the “Back the Comeback” campaign, it already has a website, a throwback logo that recalls the Comics Code Authority and T-shirts, which they are selling to raise money for charity.

“To say these last few months have been challenging would be an understatement,” said Steve Geppi, Chairman and CEO, Geppi Family Enterprises, in a press release. “I have heard from many retailers and everyone is excited about safely reopening, restarting and rebuilding. I truly believe that our comeback will be bigger than our setback and am excited to kick off this campaign in support of our industry and our retailers.”

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Marvel plans to release new comics on May 27

Marvel will stagger the release of new comics and collections, as they release their shipping plans through mid-July.

While DC teamed with two new distributors to get their comics back into stores as fast as possible, Marvel has taken a more conservative approach during the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of Diamond Comics Distributor. This week the company announced that it will begin releasing new comics again starting May 27, with five single issues, a week after Diamond plans to restore distribution.

As they previously announced, Marvel will release a slow trickle of comics into stores, alternating the first few weeks between single issues and collections. Here’s what their release schedule will look like through July 8:

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