A Letter From A Comic Shop Owner To Marvel About Penguin Random House

Bleeding Cool has been covering a number of issues with the first week's shipment of Marvel Comics titles to comic book stores from their new exclusive distributor Penguin Random House, as well as an apology them made to comic stores for what went down. One comic book store owner Mark Hajunga of Comics, Cards & Collectibles in El Paso, Texas, shared with us the letter he wrote to Marvel Comics Senior Vice President of Print, Sales and Marketing David Gabriel, the man tasked with fixing the current distribution mess.

A Letter From A Comic Shop Owner To Marvel About Penguin Random House
Marvel / Penguin Random House logos

GLOOM and DOOM: Ironically this Knightmare happens in October. Batman's (aka the Retailer protecting the Comic community) worst fear that the Penguins are destroying the Marvel Universe!

Our story begins on my day off Oct 4th and I'm shopping at Sprouts and I get a phone call from another comic book shop owner in El Paso telling me he received his first shipment from the Penguins and he tells me never in his 35+ years of buying comics has his comics been totally smashed to the unsellable point.

The owner described the boxes as being thrown and rolled over and dropped multiple times. (I digress, for I warned you after I had told you I sent Penguin step by step pictures of how Lunar Distribution and Diamond Comics DOUBLE box comics) that they promised that the single comics would be DOUBLE BOXED. I emailed you multiple times to tell Penguin to send me pictures of the proposed boxes and you and I were ignored by Penguin with No phone calls, emails to help alleviate my major concerns and No reassurances that this so called promised Double boxing would happen.

5 MONTHS for their supposed research team to make these boxes and to NO avail. Tyne Hunter, Associate Director of Comic Sales [at PRH – Rich] appreciated the pictures and would forward to their secret Research and Operations Team. I asked again once double-boxing is implemented this would eventually include the HCs and TPBs. She said Yes. I also told her to send me updates in the form of pictures to see the prototype of the double boxing.

Matthew Klein Sales Manager of Comic Market Sales [at PRH – Rich]  when I asked about the double boxing reassured me that the single comics would come in a single stack (which I thought was strange) and woud be DOUBLE BOXED!!! and that the TPBs and HCs would also be done the same safe way.

Also supposedly if they did use double boxes, then logically they would be used also for the TPBs and HCs. Remember looming disaster of the horror stories of retailers always getting damaged TPBs and HCs in Cracker Jack boxes and Manila envelopes!

Now this story takes a turn for the worst this owner tells me that another retailer posted on YouTube the First Unboxing of the Cracker Jack boxes of comics from Penguin Random Horror House (Q: Why would another retailer waste his time making a video unless he had to warn of the pathetic packing!) working in their secret igloos and keeping US(retailers and Marvel in the dark). This video is the most appalling, horrific and traumatic video I have ever seen in my entire life of the destruction of the Marvel Universe!

This may be the video in question, from Economics In Comics;

There are other retailers who did similar, but I highlighted this one because the retailer in question also received a phone call from Tyne Hunter from Penguin Random House after posting that video. Which may have helped calm that retailer's concerns for months to come, if not the next couple of weeks.


But back to Mark Hajunga's letter to Marvel's David Gabriel.

The owner mentions in the video that other owners have had their entire orders destroyed on arrival, for example, the sides of boxes completely separated and/or the fold flaps separated from the inadequate tape jobs. He describes the boxes as wafer-thin aka a Cracker Jack box with a SURPRISE: a note stating carefully packed with the utmost attention to making sure the books arrive in excellent condition by way of having sturdy boxes. This Surprise note, What a Joke(UR)! A nightmare tease from the Penguins.

My Knightmare of this morning October 5th will be when my trashed out comics arrive. If I had any common sense I should just refuse these shipments since they are irresponsibly and incompetently packed! A disgrace to the comic industry! Being that Marvel Comics entrusts the business of comics wholesaling to an inexperienced company instead of using for example a mail order service that has common sense that the comic book industry is less than 15% readers with mostly collectors and investors and know how to pack! Penguin Random House of Horrors treats their product like paperbacks, believing everybody is only a reader and condition is irrelevant. After watching that video, my October 4th FOC I decided to NOT buy from the Penguins and placed my order with Diamond comics.

What a ruse with deceit, lies and scamming from Penguin Random Horror House towards retailers and Marvel Comics. We should not be obligated to pay for the breach of contract and YOU(David) need to talk to the hierarchy and/or BRAIN trust of Marvel Comics to have Diamond Comics have a competitive discount to at least match PRH discount of 50%.

Class in Session:
Grades of the Penguins Random Horror House:
Customer Service: lies and deceit = F-
Website: archaic and ancient = F-
Billing: unreadable with packing invoice = F-
Shipping: Mentioned above = F minus times 5(I'm being kind)
Filling of orders: especially TPBs and HCs (single comics pending) = F-
Cannot use Smartphone to do any ordering on the ancient website = F-
Free Shipping: A+(dubious grade since All the comics come damaged being NOT double boxed)

Now on to Economics 101: First about shipping: Lunar Distribution charges 1.6% of retail for shipping using a discounted rate with FedEx. Diamond supposedly has a discounted rate for retailers with UPS, but that seems not true (recently Diamond had proposed a 2.5% of retail for shipping charges, but changed their mind=Not Good!) so we are paying over 5% of retail for shipping compared to Lunar. Penguin: Flat 50% with Free shipping.

Marvel Discount (previously with Diamond was 53%) so for Members I would give either 5% off ( 53% – 5%=48% – 5% shipping costs = 43%) or 10% off (53% – 10%=43% – 5% shipping costs = 38%). Diamonds new discount for me has gone down 13% to 40%(minus 5% shipping = 35%).

Proposed: Marvel Comic s= NO Discount and the customer on Marvel Comics will be charged 5% Inconvenient CONDITIONal Surcharge. If the customers complain and are resistant to paying the surcharge and/or NO discount then I will NOT carry Marvel Comics! Class is over and maybe Marvel Comics will be expelled.

Note: With so many Horror reports coming in for damages, I seriously doubt that Marvel has enough reserves to fill damages which it doesn't matter if they are filled since they will come damaged again! Also I told you that you can never trust a Penguin. The Prophecy is true!

No, seriously Mark Hajunga, tell us what you really think. Does anyone else care to contribute their own take on the situation? Possibly in a more coherent  fashion? But I think this accurately expresses the frustration that many comic book retailers are feeling this week.

Enjoyed this? Please share on social media!

Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
Comments will load 8 seconds after page. Click here to load them now.