Over the weekend, Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics launched a DCSUCKS 50% off sale, detailing his issues with the decision of DC Comics to leave Diamond Comic Distributors. As you can tell, he had issues, other people opposed his issues, and now Chuck has a response to all those responses. And a final plug for his DCSUCKS 50% off crossover.
As I am sure that you can well imagine, I had an interesting weekend after writing my DC SUCKS column last Friday. As I fully expected, a slew of DC Comics fans took profound offense to my calling DC's business management on the carpet for unilaterally deciding to abandon their 25-year relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors.What surprised me (a little…) was just how many of the folks who took offense seemed totally unable to differentiate between my being critical of the DC business/financial managers, and DC's editorial team. Never once in my column did I ever question the quality or value of DC editorial production, nor would I, as I think that they have been doing a good job of late. Anyone assuming otherwise, simply did not actually understand the entire point of my column.
On the flip side, what did surprise me quite a bit was the degree of truly visceral hatred toward Diamond was out there in the world. I am well aware that the management at Diamond has abused many comics retailers for years, but the dozens of comments that I received suggesting that people would be delighted if Diamond folded were chilling in their ferocity. We have had our own deep-seated resentments of Diamond's monopoly power, but the fact that they kept shipping product to us despite our owing them huge sums at times requires some degree of loyalty, which is exactly what I expressed. My primary concern in all this, however, was and remains the outcomes that are being forced upon all of the Direct Market retailers.
I have to tell you that being forced to order our DC's from two shell companies owned by Midtown Comics is not anyone's idea of a good time, but the added costs entailed with receiving separate shipments from Diamond and the Midtown fronts are truly discouraging, especially if DC forces Tuesday deliveries, and Diamond/Marvel sticks with Wednesday. Aside from the added freight charges eating away at our margins, here at Mile High Comics we will have to invoice all of our weekly subscribers twice, which will be a complete pain in the tush.
All of the above having been said, I waited all weekend for some denial of my basic hypothesis by DC, or revelations from other sources that DC had some sort of concrete (or reasonable) rationale of which I was unaware. None materialized. Instead, a brief column was written by Peter David in which he suggested that DC was trying to cripple Marvel by putting Diamond out of business. That seems extreme to me, but in the absence of anything from DC about how (exactly) their rash decision was going to "help Direct Market retailers," I have to at least give Peter's hypothesis at least some measure of credence.
As regards Diamond, CEO Steve Geppi has been whistling up a storm in the dark, claiming in interviews that losing the $100,000,000.00+ a year in sales of DC product is an absorbable loss. I am sure that on some levels that is true, but it still has to sting, especially since DC effectively created the Diamond that exists today through some extremely beneficial (for Diamond…) discount structures that they set up, starting in 1981.
I am eventually going to write an entire long column about my own bitter experiences with DC during those seminal years (1981-2003) of the Direct Market, but that is far too much for today's column. Suffice it to say, however, when you have a distribution company that has all of its costs pegged to a given level of volume, and then you lose $100,000,000.00 of that volume, changes have to be made. Either discounts have to go down, fees have to go up, or overhead costs and/or staff have to be reduced. Diamond may have to resort to some combination of all of the above. None of this bodes well for the embattled small retailers who form the core of the Direct Market.
As I stated on Friday, none of this could come at a worse time for our 2,000+ independent comics retailing businesses that comprise the Direct Market. Many were already on tenuous financial ground prior to the pandemic, and their being shut down for 8-10 weeks was simply an impossible financial loss for many to bear. Not a day goes by that I do not read about yet another longtime comics retailer giving up, and closing their doors. That is why this decision by the DC business managers is so godawful in it's timing. If I didn't know better, it would be hard for me to not think that DC management was doing this on purpose. Just saying…
In any event, while I did catch lots of heat over the weekend for calling out the DC business managers for their bush league handling of this entire sordid affair, I had far more people send me messages of support and encouragement. That was very nice, and I extend my sincere thanks to everyone who wrote to me. I am also grateful to everyone who placed an online back issue comics order with us utilizing our 50% off DCSUCKS! codeword. Response was huge!
So you know, that 50% off DCSUCKS! codeword is still in effect for you right now, but we will need to end it on Wednesday morning at noon, as we are being totally overwhelmed. Simply put, we are a smaller organization today than we were prior to the pandemic, and we are about to lose another key back issue fulfillment staff member to paternity leave. That's why I'm going to put the brakes on now, before we get so far behind that some people get really upset with us for not turning orders around quickly enough. As it is, please allow our team a week to get your order shipped. Thank you in advance for your understanding.
Well, that's it for today. I will try to write another column for you on Wednesday, that goes into detail about some of my other epic online battles, such as when I flew to Washington, D.C. in about 1998 (?), and met with senior officials of the Justice Department to request a Federal investigation of Diamond's monopoly. Or, when I raised such hell about Diamond trying to screw all of the Direct Market retailers through their sweetheart deal with Internet start-up NextPlanetOver.com that Paul Levitz finally slammed their pernicious scheme into the ground.
I may even write about that famous moment when I called out Marvel Comics President, Terry Stewart, for bald face lying to me, and made him so damn mad that he banned me from the Marvel offices for nearly three years. Whatever. He's now gone away to rock 'n' roll heaven. After fifty years of calling BS on damn near everyone working on the business side of comics publishing and distributing at one time, or another, I am (somehow) still here…
Indeed he is. And raising all sorts of possible follow-usp – I was employed for about four weeks by NextPlanetOver as The Gutter Press, hired by David Bogart and edited by Eric Stephenson. Oh and as to that DCSUCKS codeword discount…
P.S. Our 50% off DCSUCKS! codeword discount applies to all ten million+ of our back issue comics and magazines, excepting only a few variants, new issues, and our professionally-graded issues. Below is a listing of even more new arrivals from private collections being sold to us in Jason St. most qualify for the 50% discount. Enjoy!
I'm sure they will…