Ma Bell is Pulling the Trigger on DC

Ma Bell is Pulling the Trigger on DC

Where there is smoke there is not necessarily fire but that said, there is a LOT of smoke here.

However, be advised we are entering the rumor zone.  I do not have direct contact with any of the players.  But these rumors do make sense, the sources have been reliable in past and the word is that…

Diamond Distributers is buying DC Comics

Beloved Reader: What is Diamond Distributors? 

You ask and the Dark Herald answers:

When I was a kid there was no such thing as a comic book shop. There was only the drugstore turnstile. 

And it sucked.

The only issues available to you were ones that were on the turnstile. If you were following a prolonged story arc and your local five and dime didn’t carry it that month you just plain missed that episode of the story. 

Your only hope of being able to catch up with it, is if you were enough of a nerd to go to a comic book convention. There you would find a herd of tubby guys who loved comics enough to load up a bunch of long-boxes into their creepy-ass windowless vans (with bad mural art on them) and drive from convention to convention. The more sensible ones had day jobs to support them but they all wanted to make it in comics and it just wasn’t going to happen for them due to the fact that the openings were very limited.

Then in the early 1970s a guy named Phil Seuling got DC and Marvel to agree to a new system in which he would act as their middleman. They didn’t actually have one that was dedicated strictly to comics before then.

That changed everything for the comic book guys. The first comic book shops of the Seventies flopped but they paved the way for the totally gnarly comic book shops of the Eighties. Now these shops, by comic book nerd for comic book nerds, created a marketplace for independent comic publishers. 

Titles like Elf Quest, Rocketeer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles began appearing on their shelves, (which were actual shelves). I admit I am viewing these stores through rose colored glasses, but I did love them back in the day. It was a place you could go and hang out and the owner would hate you for not having a shopping agenda. Although, the owner was just doing this store thing until his comic book about a Fat Ninja (that was real) took off.

As with all things that are expanding too fast, there came a crash. A lot of the comic artists decided it was time to let the dream die and got real jobs. There was a Gaiman inflated second bubble of adult-oriented (which is to first wave Gen-X readers) comics in the 1990s. This led to another crash about the same time Sandman ended its run. Fairchild couldn’t keep their doors open.

Sorry guys. I tried.

There was a system of multiple distributers in place for a while. And by multiple, I mean more than one.  But that changed after DC comics tried to take it all over.  The short story is that they failed, which left Diamond Distributers as the only game in town.  Diamond has held, (up until quite recently), the monopoly on comic shop distribution.

The comic book industry did absolutely nothing to future-proof itself.  There was the occasional and halfhearted attempt to attract younger readers but after a while, they give up on what had been their traditional market and just concentrated on bald tubby guys with ponytails and BO.  

It was a dying market to be certain but why would that matter?  The comic books themselves weren’t valuable but the intellectual properties damn well were.  Once X-Men came out the future became obvious and that future was being a parasite on a corporate body that was so vast that the annual losses for comic book divisions were basically a rounding error. 

And that was before DC and Marvel got barnacled by SJWs who didn’t give a fuck about the characters they had taken over.

So long as Warner and Disney were doing alright, DC and Marvel would be just fine.

This was all before Covid-19.

When the Covid lockdown first hit back in March, Diamond Distributors announced they were halting all deliveries and they weren’t making any disbursements to the publishers either.  Marvel didn’t seem to care all that much, they were still able to operate off of the old system of corporate parasitism.  Marvel Comics appears to have a high-level protector at Disney.  They don’t seem to have been too badly hurt as yet.  But DC has had the vast misfortune to have passed into the cold unfeeling clutches of AT&T.

To the abject horror of DC Comics employees, Ma Bell told them she wanted results or else.

DC announced it was severing all ties with Diamond and launching its own distribution system.   Diamond had the nerve to be angry about it!  Court action was threatened and there might have been grounds depending on how the contract was written. But then litigation died out overnight. Steve Geppi, the CEO of Diamond came to an agreement with AT&T, he would have the right of first refusal if they decided to kill DC Comics publishing. 

DC’s hip shoot efforts at distribution have been a disaster.  One of their distributors quit when DC announced it was going to break with established industry practice and accept remaindered copies of unsold comics.  The other company has proven so unsatisfactory that a number of comic book shops did the unthinkable and stopped ordering DC Comics.

I’ve been saying for a while that AT&T has been getting ready to swing the ax on DC Comics.  

There have been a series of mass executions at DC over the last few months.  These layoffs have been so large and cut so deep into the company’s executive talent pool, that there was clearly no way for the company to recover.  DC Comics has obviously been in a death spiral for almost a year.  

What efforts DC has made to expand its market share has resulted in ridiculous projects like, I am Not Starfire and Gotham High with Gay Alfred.  Seriously, guys, the problem was not a lack of Wokeness.

If DC folds completely, that is the death of the comic book shop because there is no way they can keep the lights on with just Marvel comics on the shelves.  No comic book shops means, no Diamond Distributers. 

Consequently, it makes all kinds of sense for Steve Geppi to buy the license for the comic book rights to the DC Comics’ characters. 

Developing.

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Comments (9)

  • Steve Johnson Reply

    And then publish himself? Or use the existing DC staff?

    Geppi’s a businessman and not notably Woke, as far as I know. He’ll need someone to produce new DC comics but he probably won’t be stuck with the old staff unless they have super-sweetheart contracts.

    So he could license them out, perhaps a few titles here, a few more there. He could even license them to Marvel.

    A while ago Jim Shooter tried to buy DC when they were on the rocks. He was looking forward to a Superman cover with the banner FIRST MARVEL ISSUE! across the top.

    It could actually happen.

    February 16, 2021 at 7:47 pm
    • Codex Reply

      DC spent some serious money hiring big name YA authors with popular series to write stand-alone graphic novels for the teen library/amazon market. For example Kami Garcia wrote A few Raven/Beast Boy titles from the Teen Titans series that are doing well.

      And the Teen Titans “anime” drew in the middle school girls who drive anime and manga sales. Whether they can get the boys who are into MHA etc. I do not know. I have not seen any sign of it yet*, but it was just getting going in 2019. I didn’t get to see what the kids were cosplaying at local events in 2020 at all.

      If they don’t screw the pool (I know) they have a shot at grabbing the younger market.

      * The boys who love Avatar and Butt Detective, frex.

      February 17, 2021 at 4:50 am
  • Raymond Solar Reply

    If whoever does buy DC has their head screwed on straight, they’ll publish the entire historical line in decent trade paperback (manga-style) and collectible hardcovers–at affordable prices for most anyone. Those reprints and versions of historical comics are the real best-sellers at DC now outside of the Bat Books. The income would be slow, but steady and they’d make their money back without too much fuss.

    However, since this is Clown World … .

    February 16, 2021 at 7:53 pm
  • 2bfree Reply

    Perfect example of “Get Woke, Go Broke”

    February 16, 2021 at 10:12 pm
  • Seeker Reply

    This should be good news for comic fans. Of course there is the issue that obviously AT&T/WB will obviously be retaining the rights to all Movies/TV Shows/Video Games and probably most merchandising (at least of major characters), but that’s unavoidable since Diamond doesn’t have that level of money. Also, if they do keep on going with the stories they should rewind everything back to 2004/2005.
    It is entirely possible that they just focus on previous reprints to avoid the minefield of current comic PC culture. Given that most dc comic collections have run on very limited print runs, that’s probably quite needed.

    February 16, 2021 at 10:30 pm
  • Jew613 Reply

    Here’s something I’ve never quite understood. While I get the comics don’t sell well and haven’t for years, what about all that sweet sweet, TV, movie & merchandise money. Why isn’t that sufficient to keep DC comics afloat?

    Also, please tell me about the fat ninja comic, better yet do a review.

    February 17, 2021 at 4:21 am
    • Seeker Reply

      They don’t need the publishing wing to do that since 95+% of interest in the characters nowadays is driven by the Movies/Games/TV shows. My understanding is that DC historically was basically a break even sort of business for Warner Bros that they kept around for control of the characters. Since AT&T took over they view book publishing as pointless and are seeking to sell off their assets while keeping hold of the true value (namely the Intellectual property of the characters/settings). This is what most major corps that still have book publishers are doing as well btw.

      Once the publishing business is closed down the standard corporate thing to do is license out the characters to smaller publishers who take the risks, pay heavy royalties for it, and have dictated limitations with the characters. This seems one step further than that situation because the DC Comics name would belong to someone else, but would presumably have most of its major IPs in the hands of AT&T/WB. The issue with this current deal is that whoever picks up DC is in a bad place unless they either get it for a lot cheaper than 300 million, or they get merchandise split rights and at least some of the TV/game rights. Otherwise, the sensible business thing to do is use the classic comic characters to launch a bunch of new characters that can take prominence and be merchandised.

      February 17, 2021 at 5:35 am
    • JonM Reply

      In at least one well known case (Wonder Woman), the day the rights holder stops publishing the character, the rights revert to the creator’s Estate. There are other long-term effects such as copyright protection as well, particularly for characters created in the early-20th century. Maintaining the publishing company and producing product helps them track and protect characters from entering public domain.

      February 17, 2021 at 7:12 pm

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