DC Comics has written to comic book retailers regarding the current change in circumstances. These have seen DC Comics distributing comics through two new distributors, UCS and Lunar while Diamond shut down. Now that Diamond is starting up again, UCS and Lunar will continue to distribute DC titles as well as Diamond. Why would retailers going forward use more than one distributor, when they could get all their comics through Diamond? Well, the only reason we can give is that they will get to sell DC Comics titles on Tuesday, a day before competing comic book stores who don't use Lunar and UCS.
We'll get into the politics of that in a minute, but here's what DC Comics has to say, in questions they posed themselves.
- Will Tuesday remain DC's new on-sale date? Why Tuesday? Yes. Tuesday on-sale allows us to sync up release dates across all markets, and retailers are free to sell DC product when they receive them on Tuesdays. Retailers also can continue to sell new DC product starting on Wednesdays, should that work best for their stores and clientele.
- Will the titles shipping via Lunar and UCS eventually be available through Diamond? Yes, starting with a currently scheduled on-sale date of May 19 for books that were on Final Order Cut-Off on Monday, April 27. Schedules are expected to be in sync across all distributors by May 19.
- Why was it necessary to zero out our orders at Diamond? Diamond orders were zeroed out for DC titles originally scheduled to be on sale April 1, April 8, April 15, and April 22 to ensure that you don't receive double orders should you choose to order from one of our new distribution partners.
- How will returns be handled with the new distributors? Lunar and UCS will handle returns in the traditional manner. Returns will be made to the distributor you ordered the product from. Periodicals and books with in-store dates between March 18, 2020 and June 24, 2020 will be fully returnable. DC will provide credit for your separate return shipping of these items only.
- Will comics coming from Lunar and UCS in the next three weeks be first printings? Yes, unless otherwise specified, like Batman #89 Third Printing and Nightwing #70 Second Printing.
Appropriately we can do a little unpacking here. Bookstores generally have New Book Day on Tuesday and that includes graphic novels. Sometimes that means a collection or graphic novel will appear in bookstores a day before comic stores – or 6 days afterwards. Now, for DC Comics at least, they will have bookstore and comic store parity, for comic shops that order through Lunar and UCS. Diamond is still sticking to Wednesday for other publishers. If they put everyone out on Tuesday, it would increase distribution costs getting the books through a day earlier, especially for international customers. The UK will not get Lunar or UCS distribution, so again the UK will be out of step with the US – a situation that former DC VP Bob Wayne fought to eliminate. Steve Geppi talked about not wanting to go back to the distribution battles that saw stores using airfreight to get a day advantage over others, and spending a lot of money that didn't go back into comic books. Will we see that kind of fight again?
Also, what will DC Comics look like to Diamond going forward? No longer exclusive to Diamond, so no longer a Premiere publisher, no longer at the front of Previews, and no more Gems or Spotlights. Will it have been worth it to DC, to gain that added day?
DC Comics has also stated that all the titles are the printing that it has been indicated they are on solicitation. Though as Bleeding Cool has noted, the Giant books have been the Walmart mass market editions rather than the direct market editions that retailers were expecting. You can catch up with the rest of our coverage on the impact of the current global situation here as well as the New Distributor Wars of 2020 here. It's always Tuesday somewhere.