DC Comics Limits DistributionThe Dark Herald
DC is now down to one distributor. Lunar is it for the foreseeable future and there isn’t a lot of future to foresee with DC Comics. USC was initially reported as having been dropped by DC Comics, but it turns out that was USC that dropped DC.
Very quick recap, up until April of this year Diamond had 100% distribution for comics shops. There were a number of reasons for this but one of the biggest is that no one wanted to muscle in on their territory. Pamphlet comics are obsolete and dying. Diamond had cornered the buggy whip market when everyone else was buying Model Ts.
Then came COVID and Diamond went into bunker mode. No further sales would be made to anyone until the crisis eased up. This put the few comic shops that were still open in the position of having no merchandise to sell.
Marvel appeared to be fine with this situation.
DC on the other hand, quickly released this statement:
“’The timing of the decision to move on from Diamond was ultimately dictated by the fact that DC’s contract with Diamond has expired, but incidentally, the disruption by COVID to the market has required DC to forge ahead with its larger growth strategies that will benefit both the Direct Market and DC.’
In the email DC Comics details they will be replacing Diamond Comics Distributors with Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors as well as Penguin Random House.
Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors will distribute periodicals and graphic novels while Penguin Random House will distribute graphic novels.”
Honestly, I don’t think DC Comics would have ever made this decision on their own. They would probably have been happy to go back to the same old life, under the same old monopoly.
However; DC is owned by AT&T, so I imagine something like this happened.
DC (nervously): So…uh…Ma, I got some bad news.
Ma Bell: Well, this is the month for it. Shoot.
DC: Diamond Distributors, the guys that sell my comics to comic shops? Well, they aren’t going to sell them during the crisis. And, well, they say they are going to keep the money they owe me… I mean, you. And, uh, they say we will have to sell through them again when they feel like it.
Ma Bell (takes off her glasses and then drums her fingers): You told them, fuck you! Right?
DC: Oh, I couldn’t do that. They wouldn’t like me afterward.
Ma Bell (backhands DC, who lands on the ground sobbing. She comes around the desk and starts kicking DC savagely in the ribs): Apparently, you aren’t clear about your position with me! (kick, kick) You have not been making me enough money! (kick, kick) Now you are backing the play of the guy who is TAKING MY MONEY! (punch, kick, kick punch).
DC: Please stop! Please!
Ma Bell (stops beating him and goes back to her desk): That was for your own good. Now, what are going to tell Diamond?
DC (whimperingly whispers): fuck you.
Ma Bell: Good. Make it happen or I’m offing you and farming out your job to the Indies.
DC sent the comic shops that couldn’t open into an apoplectic fury by breaking the monopoly and hiring new distributors. Since these are the same shops that said, Arkhaven readers “aren’t our customers!” I suppose it’s technically none of our business but it’s amusing to watch them flail. Anyway, the California shops were pissed AF that some shops in other states were going to be getting new comics when they couldn’t even open their doors. And held quite the tantrum over it.
DC went forward anyway, and USC and Lunar became their new distributors. There were, however, a lot of questions at the time about these guys ability to handle the job.
Now there are answers to those questions and a lot them are, “no, they can’t.”
DC announced that in defiance of the entire history of comic books that they will now accept returns of unsold comics. Up until now, the comic shops were stuck with whatever they bought whether it sold or not. If a comic didn’t sell, they either threw it out or put it in the $1 long box. Now there is an option (B) for DC comics only.
USC appears to have suddenly become a lot less interested in being a DC distributor when they found about shops being able to remainder unsold merch. They are out.
And now Lunar has announced a bunch of restrictions.
From: Bleeding Cool (so, please don’t click on link).
“But Lunar has been making plans and, now with a much larger market to service, they are bringing in restrictions. It is likely that these are imposed by DC Comics, and it could even be a reason that UCS declined to go forward. Firstly, Lunar states that they have leased a new warehouse and are “currently beefing up our warehouse and CSR staff to handle the influx of new retailers from UCS.” They also confirmed Bleeding Cool’s account that stores will now to make a minimum of $125 worth of orders a week or $500 per month. With new details that those retailers who don’t make a weekly total will have their order suspended until the following weeks, and those who don’t make $500 a month over a three month period will see their account suspended.
But the big change is that Lunar Distribution will now be enforcing certain other requirements for stores to keep their accounts. They must meet one of the three criteria listed:
- Brick and Mortar store
- Dedicated direct to consumer website with a functioning shopping cart
- Online platform selling direct to consumers in a format other than auctions
Lunar states that they will be auditing accounts and that retailers “may be asked to provide proof that you have satisfied one of the three criteria”. What does that mean? It means those who order solely for eBay will be cut out. Will that include those who just use Amazon Marketplace? We’ll see if that counts as their own “online platform”. But it also cuts out buying clubs, where fans group together to buy comics at retailer discounts.”
Well, at least DC Comics is still selling to someone.