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Comic Book Retailers React to Dark Horse Going Exclusive With PRH

Yesterday, Bleeding Cool shared the news that Dark Horse Comics was dropping exclusive distribution to comic stores from Diamond Comic Distributors to Penguin Random House Publisher Services, as well as Diamond owner Steve Geppi's response which was, basically, "we'll miss the one percent that was Dark Horse." A number of comic book store owners and employees gathered to discuss the change on Facebook… here's some of their back and forth.

Now Dark Horse Comics Goes Exclusive With Penguin Random House

Brian Hibbs owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco: "If you hadn't heard otherwise, Dark Horse is moving all periodical distribution to Penguin Random House as of 6/1/2023 – Diamond will then be wholesaling like they do with Marvel (AKA: your cost as a retailer goes up by ~5% of margin if you stick with Diamond)… Anyway, I thought this letter from Geppi was *astonishingly* petty (that 3rd paragraph, wow!), and, if I were a remaining DCD publisher, I'd sure be wondering what they're saying about YOU behind your back. Diamond has now had ~3 years now to fix their underlying problems with shipping and costs and inventory control and messaging, since DC said they were leaving. They've had about THREE DECADES of retailers complaining to the Upper Management Team about shipping (I have the receipts of emails to VPs, yes I do) — and they have STEADFASTLY refused to do a damn thing about it. Even MODEST changes would have resolved most of it. But they've done f-ck-all. I *want* a healthy Diamond comics, and I way way way way way would *rather* buy allllll of my comics product from them (centralization brings several efficiencies) but *Diamond* made that impossible, sorry. Don't blame other people for your inability to change, yo."

Randall Armstrong Manager at South Tampa Comics: "Wooooooo! Down with Diamond and their ridiculous overcharging on their shipping. All I need now is Boom and Image to move over and we're in business!"

Marc Arsenault of Wow Cool.Sparkplug Books & Alternative Comics of Cupertino, California: PRH was a little rough in the beginning. And yes I do mean the packing issues. They have well overcompensated based on my experience. It's hard to argue with the sweet discount and lack of monthly minimums. Oh yeah and the book trade industry standard free shipping. The moving into the 21st Century shorter advance ordering/FOC times is also a welcome change. Screw Diamond. Come on Image, bury the beast and move on over.

John Harter of Waterfront Comics, Suisun City, California: The 4 points I lost from Marvel moving to PRH has more than been offset from the 10-15 percent I was paying to Diamond for shipping.

Richard Evansof Bedrock City Comics, Houston, TExas: I can't imagine ever wanting to revert to a time when all ordering was done through Diamond, especially after realizing the amount of money we have saved by diversifying vendors. At this point the more suppliers that allow us to order their products elsewhere the better. Congrats to Dark Horse.

Brian Hibbs: Our overall margins on comics product have dropped significantly since DC left Diamond. Glad your experience is different.

Mark Dickson, former comic store ownerin Chillicothe, Ohio: Diamond should have consolidated Alliance Games dist/Comics dist together a long time ago. Alliance still has free freight on $$$ orders. If a retailer had game product going out on a Monday, then comics could be included for free shipping. And all coming from the same warehouse. That would have helped retailers tremendously. At least one chance a week to get free freight comics. This would have only worked if some warehouses we're shut down and all products be in the same locations. Corporate policy is to wait and react when problems come up. So if a fire starts and the house is burning down you run around like crazy trying to put the fire out. In corporate thinking this is a cost saving measure. Don't change the policy until absolutely necessary. But another way of doing business is to change when problems start and find a solution before the fire starts. Diamonds house is burning down right now, it remains to be seen if it will be saved or be a total loss.

Brian Hibbs: no, what the SHOULD have done is listened to retailers like me who patiently and carefully explained to the VPs at Diamond how shipping worked everywhere else, and how we were moving our business away without a change, and exactly spelled out just how much THEY were losing from it as a result. Like I said, I have the receipts….

Few people have suffered from the age-old advice, that is, listen to Brian Hibbs about stuff.

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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.
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