For 25 years, Diamond Distributors had a monopoly on comic shipping. If you were a comic shop, you ordered through Diamond—it was just how the business worked. But that all changed yesterday as DC ditched Diamond Distributors. This is a seismic shift for the industry. But how did this happen, and what does it mean for the future of the comic book world?
DC Comics Ditching Diamond Distributors was a Difficult Decision
One of the most anticipated comics coming out in July, Batman #95. The Beginning of the Joker War. (Image: DC Comics)
Alliteration aside, when DC ditched Diamond Distributors, they made sure that they explained their decision to the direct market:
“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.”
However, the writing was on the wall for a while now. At the end of April, DC Comics started using new distributors, and now those distributors are their only distributors. A DC spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter:
“After 25 years, DC and Diamond Comic Distributors are ending their long-standing relationship. 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.”
This is a Good Thing for the Comic Industry and for Diamond Distributors
DC’s accidental big event, Dark Nights: Death Metal, will feature a sentient Batmobile! (Image: Dark Nights: Death Metal #2, DC Comics)
Because DC ditched Diamond Distributors, they brought something to the direct market that hasn’t existed in a quarter of a century: competition. For any industry, competition is vital to its growth. Cell Phone companies compete to get the most customers based on their services. Automobile manufacturers compete to convince you to switch makes or even just models. Marvel and DC compete for the best talents to deliver the best superhero stories and win the most readers. Indie Comic Prints compete for the most unique voices so that their comics stand out more.
Diamond had no competition, and that’s why this is good for them, even if it will definitely suck for the immediate future. This will make them more innovative. Now they have to worry about other companies leaving them too. So, how will they convince Marvel, IDW, Image, Boom!, and all the other houses to stay with them. More importantly, what will they do to get DC back? And if other comic houses decide to use the new distributors as well as Diamond, how will Diamond change to convince the direct market to stay with them.
In that regard, it’s a really exciting time for the comic industry. At least, it would be if it weren’t for one little problem. Literally little, on a molecular level: the Coronavirus.
DC Ditched Diamond Distributors at the Worst Possible Time
We’ll finally get the trade of Batman: City of Bane Part 2 in July! (Image: DC Comics)
Yes, this is a good decision, but it’s not the right time. The industry—every industry—is still in chaos. Hundreds of comic stores are still closed across the country. Now, when they return, they’re going to have to learn an entirely new ordering system while they are trying to rebuild their stores and customer base. The benefit of only having one distributor, at least during this pandemic, was that it made ordering much easier. DC Comics recognized the problem of the Diamond Distributors monopoly, but they ditched them too quickly. Let things go back to normal before changing the entire industry model.
It will be very interesting to see what happens going forward, and how this will reflect in the comics themselves. It’s a big unknown, but we haven’t had that in a long time. Stay tuned!
(Featured Image: Supergirl: Being Super, DC Comics)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.