Comic store owners were rocked today by the news that DC Comics, after 25 years being distributed by Diamond, have pulled a Baltimore Colts and are leaving. Yes, starting in a couple of weeks, your local comic shop will no longer be supplied with Punchline variants by Diamond Comic Distributors. While many on social media who don't own stores (and some that do, to be fair) are rejoicing at the news, most comic shop owners are not. Ninety percent of you reading this right now probably go to your shop every week, buy your comics, and you can't be bothered/don't care how they got there. That's fair, but to those of us who DO worry about how to get you, your comics are a lot worried.
Dealing with Diamond for anything is like pulling teeth. Ask any comics retailer, and they can pass along many examples of this, from billing and shipping issues to damaged products. Most of us would agree that Diamond needs competitors. Most would also agree that DC Comics doing this during a pandemic when there are still huge chunks of comic shops that are not even open or just reopened is a bad idea. This kind of sweeping change is a pain in the ass when it is done at a reasonable time, let alone right now. Making it even dumber, we now also have not one, not two, but three distributors to deal with since we have to order DC Comics tpb/hc through Penguin. Thanks for tripling our shipping costs DC Comics. What would have been the problem with rolling this out throughout the summer and working out the kinks? Why give this business to two of the biggest competitors comic shops have to already compete with (DCBS and Midtown Comics)?
So, what to do? If you are a shop that has seen itself decimated by the pandemic, you probably are operating at a low profit, to begin with. The extra shipping costs that come with these two new distributors are going to eat further into that. Our store is just going to have to carry and chop from other areas. Survival without DC Comics is not a reality. Sadly that means fewer chances on indie books for the time being. What other options are there? Not carrying DC will drive customers away, so that's out. Maybe focus heavier on their backlist and what you already have on hand. You can talk to other stores in the area and maybe put in one central order and spread the shipping cost around.
There are no easy answers here. After talking with some people today, the Direct Market for comics may be on its last legs. I hope not, as comic shops are a vital cog in the industry and community they reside in, and sadly it feels like nobody is taking the time to worry about us. One thing I do know is we need your support more than ever. Spend the extra couple bucks and buy that graphic novel or statue from us instead of Amazon or some other online retailer. PICK UP YOUR PULLS! And just give your local shop a break for a couple of weeks while we figure all this DC Comics stuff out.