A quick recap. Diamond Comic Distributors confirmed our original scoop that they would be returning to distribute comic books in mid-late May, suggesting Sunday, May 17th should be the date comic book stores would start to receive the comic books delayed since April 1st. Then DC Comics announced that they would also be returning to distribution sooner than that, from Tuesday, April 28th, from two new distributors, UCS Comics Distributors and Lunar Distribution, who Bleeding Cool shortly identified as Midtown Comics and DCBS respectively. That means comic book retailers may start to receive such comic books from this weekend. A number of retailers spoke out against this plan by DC Comics, though a few of them supported it, and Bleeding Cool has tried to cover the actions of Diamond, UCS and Lunar since.
DC Comics told retailers that all their DC Diamond orders had been cancelled, Diamond say that wasn't true, and we were faced with the very real prospect of getting two print runs of all affected titles, both dubbed the first printing. While all the Diamond-distributed titles were now returnable, it does leave a bit of a mess, especially with DC delaying the long-awaited quarter-of-a-million print run of Batman #92 till June, when Diamond was still intending to ship it in May. And UCS and Lunar having different issues regarding timing and shipping. We also noted that Diamond were removing certain honorifics from their DC listings.
Now DC Comics has decided to answer a few questions:
- What is the status of my orders at Diamond? Are they cancelled or not? We received feedback from many retailers and can confirm that all order quantities for titles for the original ship weeks of April 1, April 8, April 15, and April 22 not fulfilled by Diamond will be reset to zero. We have discussed this with Diamond and they have agreed to this reset. All order quantities for books on sale Tuesdays April 28, May 5, and May 12 will need to be updated via Diamond's upcoming FOC or the other distributors' ordering systems. We're doing this to ensure you don't receive double orders (should you choose to order books from one of our new distribution partners) or to allow you to confirm the orders you originally placed in Diamond's ordering system. Your original orders were placed well in advance of the stay-at-home directives and we understand you may need to make adjustments that best suit your customers' needs. To be clear, the affected orders include all DC product including comics, graphic novels, and collectibles.
- Why is now the time to do this? Our goal is to get new comics into shops that are able to sell as soon as possible. We expect regional inconsistencies as to whether stores will be allowed to open up or remain shut down, and want to ensure we can continue providing comics to stores that can operate during these times. We recognize that many stores are not open for business at this time, but we've also heard from many retailers who are open and/or providing mail order, curbside pickup, or delivery, and we need to provide them with product.
- Why did you only place five comics for sale the first week back? By starting with a small number of releases we're allowing our new distribution partners to work through any process glitches. We will increase the amount of product we distribute over the next few weeks. Additionally, retailers have requested we not publish a full slate of comics as businesses reopen to help ease the financial burden on stores.
- Are these new distributors our only option to receive DC product? You can choose between three distributors for periodicals: Diamond Comic Distributors, Lunar Distribution, and UCS Comic Distributors. If you are ready and willing to receive product starting Tuesday, April 28, you can order from either UCS or Lunar. You have the freedom to work with either of these distributors or wait until Diamond Comic Distributors starts shipping again.
- What is the best source for the latest DC product and distribution updates? When it comes to DC's business and products, the information you need will come directly from DC. Watch for more updates coming soon!
I don't know about that last one, DC. As a fair few people have pointed out, they have been getting better, more timely and more accurate information from Bleeding Cool of late, regarding these New Distribution Wars of 2020. Because we can interpret what DC is saying a little better, and raise a few unanswered questions as well.
Which is that DC has cancelled all Diamond orders for DC titles – but retailers can un-cancel those DC orders with Diamond for three weeks worth of DC Comics titles that Diamond is still holding, including Batman #92. Going forward, retailers can still use Diamond to order DC Comics titles, as well as UCS or Lunar.
DC has broken the Diamond monopoly, but Diamond is still distributing DC titles. Which begs the question, what was the point? Why not wait another three weeks for Diamond to get their act together, especially when the books shipped will be lower on DC's priority line – and not Batman #92.
Whether there's a market for stores to order just their DC Comics from UCS/Lunar and then everything else from Diamond, just so they can sell DC titles on Tuesdays, is something yet to be measured. Also, whether Diamond will be happy distributing any product to DCBS and Midtown when they are now competitors for their DC distribution, is up in the air. While who gets to distribute Batman #92 first is also not clarified here either. Just in case DC fancy answering a few more questions.