The first Wednesday without new paper comics has come and gone, and the Coronavirus is still rocking the industry! Could we have seen the last of Diamond Comics Distributors?
The comics industry continues to feel shock waves from the Coronavirus pandemic, and they seem to come without any warning! Here’s what I think the biggest stories of the week were!
First up, Marvel apparently has told one-third of its artists to put down their pens, as it were. That means they are expecting their product to experience serious delays, and then some! If things continue as they are, we could see the House of Ideas tell every creator to stop what they’re doing, if they haven’t already!
Across the country, more states are extending their downtimes from two weeks to at least a month. Again, if you love your local comics shop, support them any way you can! Interestingly enough, some shops have apparently negotiated with local governments and received permission to offer curbside pick-up. I know of at least one here in the state of Florida that has reopened, and at least one more that has never closed its doors. That last one sends me emails daily reminding me about that! I wish them, and any others I haven’t heard about who remain open, much success!
I haven’t heard of any more stores locking their doors permanently, but not every website I check is still up and running as of this writing! That in itself worries me!
DC released only collections and a few comics digitally on Wednesday, including Batman: The Adventures Continue #1, which was originally intended to be digital-first. The other books were rescheduled for April 29, but that might change as we get closer to the date. I haven’t heard what, if any, comics will come from DC this Wednesday digitally.
I was intrigued to see that some publishers, including Vault Comics, did release the digital comics they originally had scheduled for last Wednesday. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens this week!
Several comics companies are donating money to local shops you indicate when you buy comics directly from them during this shutdown. Hey, I really like that idea!
NO MORE DIAMOND DISTRIBUTORS?
As time passes, I’ve become more and more concerned about things returning to what was previously considered “normal” prior to the Coronavirus. One of my biggest worries, if I can call it that, is Diamond Comics Distributors.
Publicly, DC said in a news release on Saturday that they are looking into other distribution methods. Their release included the following:
“Because we anticipate that continued disruption to business operations will create regional volatility, DC is exploring a multi-distributor model to provide us with the flexibility needed during this crisis to get new content to our readers on an ongoing basis. In the short-term, we continue to engage in active conversations with Diamond to help us solve the distribution issues that have arisen and hope to get new product to stores that want or need it as soon as possible. We will provide additional information about how we’ll make that happen in the coming days.”
In other words, Diamond is likely NOT their only option any longer.
For those of us who have been around a long time, this harkens back to days when Diamond only distributed to a portion of the U.S. There were at least three other companies distributing in other parts of the country, while Diamond “owned” the East/Northeast.
Over time, Diamond slowly either bought up the other companies or filled the gap when one went under. I have to say that I’ve never been a fan of a monopoly when it comes to distribution because they can simply turn down books that creators are offering based solely on their own perspectives. For instance, many people have heard that any comics dealing with super-heroes were “right out,” as the British often say, because DC and Marvel held an iron-tight grip on that part of the industry. I know of several great comics that they refused solely on that basis.
That was a mistake, I believe. Thus, it may be time to change direction as we move forward.
SINCE DIAMOND STOPPED
Personally, I’m not convinced we’ll ever return to what we considered “normal” before all this happened. The speed with which Diamond suspended its operations is a worry. Are they paying companies they bought product from? Are they making plans for how to get things running again? I hope so, but it’s been pretty quiet–too quiet for me.
I’ve often wished there were a system that would make Indie comics available rather than creators having to canvas each store individually. I once spoke with a creator who was going to make an “Indie Previews” book much like the one Diamond has released but promoting independent comics. I never saw that happen, though.
I’m hearing that several companies are considering a move into distribution of comics and related goods if Diamond does not come back or returns in a very limited capacity. Since I’m used to there being several distributors at one time, that doesn’t concern me as it might others who are used to having only one source for comics and related items.
This is a great time to take a deep breath and consider the future. Do we want to go back to how things were done before, or could there be a better way?
I’m open to change at this point. If someone has what I hope would be a “fairer” way of getting product to local stores, I’d be all for it. I know a lot of comics I think would have been big successes if they could only have been distributed through a good system and reached local shops. We’ll see.
There are a lot of creative minds out there that could make the comics industry return bigger and better than ever! I hope they’re already working on this and will make it happen!
And as I said previously, be sure to stay healthy and keep reading your comics!
What do you think? Should we return to how things were done previously? If not, what changes do you think should be made? Please share your thoughts in the space below!