Dan Wallace of Impulse Creations Comics & Collectibles read Mile High Comics' Chuck Rozanski's notice about DC Comics leaving Diamond Comic Distributors and deciding to launch a DC Sucks 50% sale as a result. Wallace has a very different take on the situation. He writes;
For many years, Diamond Comics Distributors has had exclusive contracts in place with all the major comics publishers for distribution within the US. That all changed this week when DC Comics severed ties with Diamond, resulting in outrage from many in the comics retail community with no particularly good reason for that outrage in most cases.
While only DC and Diamond know the full details of the breakup, the first public cracks in their alliance came at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. As lockdowns began to go into effect in many areas, Diamond made the decision to cease distributing comics to stores after March 25th. This was done out of concern for shops that could not or would not utilize alternative means to service their customers and receiving comics they couldn't sell would create financial problems for those stores.
Prior to this decision by Diamond, many stores including Impulse Creations took quick action to implement cleaning procedures, curbside pickup, local delivery, and to enhance our existing online sales with features such as free shipping and new categories to make finding items easier.
Our customers have always been our #1 concern followed closely by our amazing staff. You are why we exist and we are willing to do whatever is necessary to continue to serve you and to keep our team employed while layoffs are widespread. Comic books may seem low on the list of what's important during a pandemic but, when the world is going crazy, being able to get some entertainment from the safety of home goes a long way toward relieving stress and reducing anxiety.
It came as a shock then when we received the news that the supply of new comics would cease for an indeterminate length of time. The reasons for Diamond taking such drastic action were justified as many other stores were either not prepared to adapt as quickly as we did or were in some especially restrictive areas where store owners and staff could not even enter their stores. Even so, this came as a crushing blow to us and to DC Comics as well which needed to get books into stores in order to pay their hard working creators who make these books the joy that they are.
Our first response was to reach out to publishers who we could order from directly. All the largest publishers were hampered by exclusive contracts with Diamond so ordering from them was not an option but we were able to create a supply chain to bring in comics from publishers like Scout Comics, Source Point Press, TKO Studios, A Wave Blue World, Big Blue Comics, Short Fuse, Black Mask Comics, Hero Tomorrow Comics, Inverse and more. While these publishers couldn't take the place of some of the big names in comics, the level of quality in their books is amazing and we were able to expose them to new readers, many of whom have now embraced them as favorites.
Along with bringing in these books, we began doing Facebook Live shows, increasing our social media presence, and engaging in other efforts to shine spotlights on items we already had in stock to keep our doors open and to satisfy the needs of our fans who were anxious for comics during the shutdown. It took a lot of effort but, having read super-hero comics all my life, the idea of giving up simply wasn't something I could even consider. Things were hard but that just meant we had challenges to overcome and each one needed a solution instead of a shrugged shoulder.
It was then though that DC Comics stepped in with a plan to distribute comics outside of Diamond. They were able to get around their exclusive contract with Diamond to offer new comics to stores that needed them. No stores had to use this option. Stores that were unable to sell comics could simply wait and their orders would still be filled by Diamond when distribution there resumed. For stores like ours with ready customers and plans in place to accommodate them though, being able to get new comics from a major publisher was a huge shot in the arm and prevented more stores from going out of business that the pandemic would have otherwise claimed.
Even though using these new distributors was not mandatory, their mere existence was met with explosive tempers from comic store owners. Those stores fell into roughly three categories with two of them having some justifiable outrage. Stores that simply could not be open in any capacity (mailorder has been legal in almost all areas but there are exceptions) and stores that are so small that the shipping cost for a handful of DC books from another distributor would make them unprofitable to ship in really had no good option and they were not happy about other stores bringing these books in. The third group though is made up of store owners with the mindset that all change is bad. Change requires doing something more or different than what they've always done and sitting back to wait for the status quo to resume is easier. Any new way of doing things is rocking that boat and that made them uncomfortable.
Even with that third group, I understand the feeling. New things can be scary and even hard. They might work and they might not. Sticking with the tried and true is not only easier but it also carries with it less risk.
All of that makes perfect sense but it's also true that the comics industry can't improve and grow without change. Complacency leads to stagnation. The shops stay the same so the fans stay the same so the stories themselves stay the same. Eventually, that spells the demise of the entire industry and no one involved in it wants that.
Diamond doesn't want that and neither does DC. There are no villains involved here and there are no heroes either. Everyone is doing what's best for them first (including us at Impulse Creations) but most are also trying to do what's best for the industry as a whole too.
When the pandemic first hit, DC Comics donated $250,000 to a fund to assist comic stores that were suffering losses. DC publisher Jim Lee has been working tirelessly through all this doing a sketch a day for 60 days,each being auctioned for several thousand dollars with those funds being donated as well. Lee has also recruited other artists along the way to create additional art donations.
To even think for a second that DC does not love and support the retail comics industry is ridiculous. Whatever the specific reasons for leaving Diamond are, they may well benefit DC directly but there is no doubt whatsoever that there is a game plan in place to make the comics industry bigger, stronger, and more vibrant which benefits everyone from their new distributors, to comic stores, and to fans.
There will be some growing pains as this all plays out. There are stores that will be uncomfortable with that and will express their outrage for some time to come. This is change and change is hard but the comics industry needs change if it is to survive and I applaud DC for being willing to stand up to critics for the good of the industry and I look forward to seeing what comes next.
Anyone else want to add their informed commentary?