So… What’s Happening with Marvel Comics?
The past year has brought many, many changes to how comic book stores work. All of this “behind the scenes” stuff isn’t very sexy. But since many of our customers have been asking questions about recent developments, I thought it made sense to describe the changes in Marvel Comics distribution and how that will affect readers, collectors and subscribers (it won’t).
First, some background.
I won’t bore you with the distributor wars of the 80s and 90s. I’ll jump forward to our opening in 2019. In 2019, there was only one distributor for monthly (periodical) comic books – Diamond. That means if a store wanted to carry DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, Vault (you see where I’m going here) there was one source to purchase those books. They all came shipped together in advance of weekly release dates. Yes, this is a monopoly. But shipping comic books is hard work, and quite frankly, no one else really wanted to do it.
In 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic, DC Comics announced that it was leaving its long-time distribution partner, Diamond, to bolster a pair of brand new start-up distributors. There was a short timeline to switch over, limited communication on all fronts and much confusion. In short order, one of those distributors bailed. Now, we get our DC Comics from one source, Lunar Distribution. Still a monopoly for DC Comics. But all of our other comic books still came from Diamond. There have been some growing pains. But we quickly pivoted to ordering, processing and stocking periodical comics from both Lunar and Diamond. Our DC subscribers can tell you that service was not interrupted and their collections have continued to grow under this system. Some things, like shipping damages have improved immensely.
It was during this time that our store rapidly expanded where we buy other comics-related merchandise like hardcovers, trade paperbacks and other collected formats. One of our favorite distributors for that material has been Penguin Random House. They have great terms and customer service. It was announced yesterday, March 25th, that Marvel Comics would be moving distribution away from Diamond Comics and instead using PRH for monthly comics. The communication has been stellar and we have a 6-month timeline for integration. For stores that do not want to move to PRH, Diamond will continue to serve as a through-seller, which is a welcome alternative for some shops. As for us, this looks like an easy pivot and we’re excited to see how the business will change under this new paradigm.
In short, our Marvel Comics readers and subscribers should see no changes to our service. All of this business, behind-the-scenes stuff isn’t very fun. Comics are fun. And it’s our mission to keep them fun for our customers.
Thanks for reading – and Excelsior!