Today sees the release of the first monthly DC Comics in stores for some time – those that are allowed to be open or who can provide a mail order service. A couple of reprints, a couple of what used to have been called Vertigo titles and a Walmart Batman Giant, intended as Jim Lee put it, as a stress test for the system. While also turning New Comics Wednesday into New DC Comics Tuesday.
We've been hearing from a number of retailers regarding the current changes. Bleeding Cool originally ran Brian Hibbs' very negative response, as well as other such as Jesse James who were less hostile. But after that, hostility seems to be the name of the game, at least concerning the messages that Bleeding Cool has received over the last few days. A Canadian retailer who wishes to remain anonymous tells us,
I've spoken to a few other Canadian retailers and Lunar has not gotten back to any of us. When trying to log-on their site just reads "Your account is pending administrative approval. Once approved, you will receive an email to complete the registration." No email has been forthcoming, I signed up back on April 17. I've also tried calling the number provided, it goes straight to voice mail, and no message has ever been returned. At this point it seems Diamond will be back in business by the time Lunar gets to us. My guess is, Canada is just not a priority. Maybe Bleeding Cool could do some research and find out if its just BC or all of Canada, but it seems to me we've been left out.
Another US retailer tells me;
I am the operations manager for a small chain of comics shops centered in [Redacted]. I have been "in the business" for a very long time and would like to reach out to you and say thanks for the reporting. Our "assigned" new DC distributor, Lunar, is leaving a lot to be desired. Having "created" an account with them almost the same day the initial emails arrived in my in-box; I have yet to hear back from them after numerous attempts to contact them. Apparently, I have an account, but no terms, no information on how they deliver, when, etc. Diamond has yet to inform us of what exactly which codes were zeroed out and I have requested the option to simply roll my original orders into the new codes or back to those codes. It does appear my orders for the "Lunar" items have gone to "not ordered" in Diamond's system. Hopefully this Lunacy will end soon.
Golden Apple Comics of Los Angeles included the following in their newsletter.
IMPORTANT UPDATE ON NEW PREORDERS. We should start receiving new books again from DC starting next month. We may also start receiving other publishers next month as well. At the moment DC plans on using 2 different distributors to send us the books. It's a disorganized mess. We hope to continue using Diamond if possible but will do what ever we need to do to get your preorders filled quickly if Diamond is unable to give us what we need we will use the other distributors provided. If you want to add additional preorders now is the time to do that. We don't know when some final orders will be due so we suggest getting your orders in sooner than later. These books WILL BE UNDER ORDERED many shops are closed and are unable to conduct business so you can expect them to order the bare minimum. Please stay tuned for more updates as we have them.
Emerald City Comics in Clearwater, Florida posted out the following;
You may be hearing something online about DC Comics and Diamond Comic Distributors (where we order our comic books!). Most of it is "noise" – here's the signal: DC Comics has come up with a plan to ship some comics out before Diamond is able to start shipping again. What does this mean? It means you might see some DC Comics being offered through a few mail order places over the next few weeks. While we do offer mail order, our main focus is our Guests who come to Emerald City; so it doesn't make sense for us to order just a handful of DC Comics for a brief period of time through other sources. We've been dealing with Diamond Comic Distributors for 30 years, and they are one of the most honorable companies we've ever dealt with. A class act. Their leader, Steve Geppi, has loved comics all his life, and has done an amazing job keeping the flame alive all these years! If you are already a subscriber at Emerald City, we'll still be putting your comics aside for you as soon as they arrive, and you won't miss an issue. We will also have "New Comics Wall" copies of those same DC Comics when we re-open to the public. As of right now we're sticking with Diamond. They are ramping up again, and they hope to start shipping comics again around mid-May.
Paul Sassenie of British store, Comic Biz told us that he
has had a relationship with Diamond Comic Distributors for 30 years. In fact, I sold my distribution company to Steve Geppi back in the day and that company, eventually, became Diamond UK. Both Diamond UK and Diamond US are and have been great trading partners and I applaud them both for protecting their staff by closing during this dreadful pandemic. We do have the option of bringing DC books in from the US but we will remain loyal to Diamond and urge other retailers, especially UK retailers, to do the same.
Chris Barchuk of Funny Business, New York, told us
just wanted to put it out there that Funny Business in Nyack NY will be sticking with Diamond Comics. Lord knows I have my problems with Diamond but handing over my ordering information to a direct competitor who is within 30 minutes of my store is a no go. I also informed DC that because of this move DC Comics have become an order only option in my store. The few email interactions I have had with Stuart Schreck from DC have been very dismissive so I have decided that I do not need to continue spending my dollars on a company that cares so little about my business. I have also been a bit troubled by the very recent statements by Midtown Comics and DCBS, I refuse to use there alter ego names, where they have indicated that they have plans to distribute comics beyond the Diamond shut down so I am going to plant another flag. If DC thinks that they are going to peel off from Diamond and go it alone then my store will no longer carry DC products. The sad reality is DC Comics sales are so bad that it just wouldn't be financially sound to have to order just DC from another distributor.
Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics, Denver, told us,
Mile High Comics will be standing with Steve Geppi and Diamond Distributing. Even if DC were not trying to force us into buying from a competitor, I believe their betrayal of Diamond after decades of service to be reprehensible. If this is how AT&T plans to publish comics in the future, I will pass. Selling back issue comics is far more profitable, and requires no such moral equivocation.
Fantasy Realm of Cornwall, Ontario echoed that, telling the world,
Some of you may have read that DC Comics has contracted 2 new distributors to release their lower printed titles that were to be on sale April 1st and 8th.
Fantasy Realm will NOT be dealing with either of those companies, we will have the titles when our distributor Diamond resumes shipping.
Regardless of when Diamond does that, Fantasy Realm remains closed to ALL form of sales until we have the green light to re-open and operate as a brick and mortar business offering face to face customer service.
But not every store thinks like this. Dan Wallace of Impulse Creations Comics & Collectibles, Tulsa, Oklahoma, writes to us;
There's been a lot of retailer outrage over DC's announcement to distribute outside of Diamond and, as the owner of Impulse Creations Comics & Collectibles in Tulsa, I do agree that I'd wished for a better plan but DC is at least doing something as has been asked for by a huge number of stores. These stores have been in contact with publishers and have discussed their frustration with the shutdown but any public conversations quickly get blasted by the mob mentality of those against the idea which has kept most of those discussions private.
There's a vocal "old guard" of stores who resisted cash registers in the 70s, resisted POS systems in the early 2000s (some still resisting them today), and now resist ideas like mailorder, curbside pickup, local delivery, and Facebook live shows. They'll resist everything new simply because it's different and claim it's too hard because they don't want to have to figure out how to make it work. These same stores previously complained that stores doing mailorder had an advantage because mailorder costs less to do and is easy. Now that they've looked at doing it though they say it costs too much and is too hard.
I don't want any more stores to go under. I want us all to survive but this situation is showing that we are not all on the same playing field and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
One of the things I love about the comics industry is that there are different types of comic shops with different product mixes, different atmospheres, and different ways of doing things. That means there's a store for every type of customer.
I hope that continues during and after the current situation but I also want to see adaptation and growth. I don't want us all to be locked into the same restrictive mold simply because some stores declare that what's best for them should be imposed on everyone.
The stores most against the idea of resuming comics distribution are those in the more densely populated areas and maintaining social distancing is more difficult there. Those same stores though have an advantage day after day, month after month, and year after year as they are located where comic creators live and can more cheaply have them come in to do signings to boost their sales on a regular basis.
There's nothing wrong with that. It's just geography. Is it fair that stores in Los Angelos, New York, and Dallas can have Scott Snyder, Donny Cates, or Todd McFarlane in for a signing without telling those creators that they must also do signings in Boise, Des Moines, and Topeka? No, it's not fair but the world isn't fair and it's no one's fault. We all have to deal with the situations we're faced with without expecting other stores to sacrifice for us.
Now though, these same stores with these advantages find a situation where we're all hurting but some of us are willing to put in the effort to adapt and overcome but they not only don't want to, they want to also prevent us from doing so because NOW it's not fair. If they can't sell comics using their preferred method then no one should be able to sell them using alternative methods.
Change isn't easy. It's hard. If a store can survive without change, there's certainly nothing wrong with maintaining the status quo. That is an absolutely valid choice on an individual store basis. It only becomes a problem when the decision not to change is imposed on everyone else.
DC's decision gives retailers a choice and choices are always good. We can choose to take the choice that is offered or not to but the existence of the choice itself causes no harm.
I'm just frustrated by so many stores hearing the words "lock down", immediately giving up, and shouting to the world that all comic shops are forcibly closed. They ignore the fact that e-commerce is on the federal list (at least in the US) of essential businesses and curbside pickup has remained available in many areas as well. Each store needs to decide what's right for their situation and act accordingly but trying to impose their preference on others as if their choice is the only possible option is just wrong.
We also got the word from InStockTrades as to what they were stocking
Thanks to Lunar Distribution, we are going to be able to offer DC collected titles starting the week of May 5th
Considering that Lunar, DCBS and InStock Trades are the same company, that thanks didn't need to travel far.