The Death of Superman and of Comics – Michael Davis, From the Edge

Michael Davis is an artist, writer, mentor, entertainment executive, co-founder of Milestone Comics, co-creator of Static Shock, Hardware, Icon and Blood Syndicate and creator and host of San Diego Comic-Con's The Black Panel. He writes for From The Edge for Bleeding Cool and for ComicMix. This week, he tackles the current global situation, and the attitude held towards Diamond Comic Distributors. He writes;

Comics are dead and it's all Diamond's fault according to many. Diamond takes a lot of undeserved flak. Most is bullsh-t like all the claims that Diamond is a monopoly. The United States Justice Department decided Diamond was not a monopoly. They do indeed dominate the distribution space, but that's just good old fashion American know-how that allows them to.

Diamond had help becoming the behemoth they are.

That help came from Marvel Comics. What had happened was in 1994 Marvel Comics purchased Heroes World Distribution. Marvel was the industry leader back then kicking ass and taking names. Perhaps corporate thought they could do no wrong. It turns out they could, and the wrong they did do was purchase a distributor. As a result, of that purchase, DC Comics and most of the significant playas decided the thing to do was signing exclusives with Diamond.

In the meantime, Marvel didn't just jump the shark; they jumped the shark, Charlie Tuna, Mrs. Paul, her husband, Billy, Namor, and Flipper. Not long after they purchased, Heroes World things started to go way south. Marvel went bankrupt; Heroes World went bye-bye Capital City; the other major distributor had few accounts left after Diamond signed the big boys that led to Diamond buying Capital City.  AH HA!! Some of y'all think Geppi went all corporate raider on Capital City kicking them when they were down all Gordon Gekko like.

"I bought it because it was the right thing to do. If they had gone out of business, which was probably a likelihood, some publishers would not have gotten paid. I saw to it that all of them got paid in full." That's a direct quote from Gekko from the movie Wall Street 3: Do the Right Thing a Spike Lee Joint got Oliver Stoned production… not. Steve Geppi said that, and there are plenty of people who know it.  Diamond didn't create the conditions that made them the biggest playa in comics. The publishers made the rules for this game not Diamond. Diamond played a masterful hand, which isn't easy when there is so many involved and so much that could have gone wrong. The executives at the comic companies made Diamond the big dog they are by their actions. Diamond has remained at the top by theirs. Those are facts. Facts these days are subjected to troll happy bullsh-t. The biggest LIE is Diamond is the reason the collapse of the comic book industry is only a matter of time.  Diamond is also blamed by some for the industry collapse in the '50s '70s and '90s.

The cover to the Death of Superman, Superman #75.
The cover to the Death of Superman, Superman #75.

FUN FACT: The direct market didn't exist in the 50s and 70s, nor did Diamond. What about the '90s? Ok, let's discuss the '90s. Diamond did not glut the marketplace or put out 60 variant covers, nor did they do multiple Spider-Man or Batman titles. Unless Geppi's secret identity is Doomsday, he didn't kill Superman.

In the Death Of Superman, EVERYONE in the comic industry knew Superman was coming back.

The general public, for the most part, didn't know. They thought that book would put their grandkids through college. In a day, DC Comics sold 3 million copies of the Death of Superman. In ONE DAY, DC made almost 8 million dollars and that book was hot for months. What's the book worth today? The book originally sold for $2.50 adjusted for inflation, $2.50 in 1992 is equal to $4.66 in 2020. Annual inflation over this period was 2.25%. Depending on the edition (there were a few), you can expect to get $200,000 to $350,000 for your Death of Superman… in a dream. When you wake up, the real prices go from $2 to $35. That after almost 30 years. Once speculators realized there are millions upon millions of these books out there, they fled the market, and the market tanked. Diamond had nothing to do with that. Diamond is like any other unessential business during this pandemic hell to protect the people who work for Diamond, Geppi has stopped shipments. The people most at risk outside of direct line health care workers are people who travel. They are more likely to contract the virus and transport it to their next stop, and the next.  That's just one person, multiply that by dozens of people driving all over the country. I love comics, but I wouldn't want to die for one.

Demanding Geppi resume shipments is asking people to risk death. That is absurd. This Pandemic is real, and it will kill you as it has four people I knew. Unlike Superman, they won't be coming back. But comics will. All the naysayers will be proven wrong, yet again. The industry will change it will adapt it always has. Comic books are one of few real American art forms. Despite what these clickbait bastards say comics will be back. As will Diamond although I wouldn't blame Steve Geppi for bailing. He doesn't need comics, comics needs him.

As for the naysaying trolls they need to shut up grow up because their sh-t is f-cked up. This is a time for unity not this high school bullsh-t. I read all the time about the comics community being a family. Diamond is a big part of that family love them or not the world is watching how we treat each other. How will our story be told? Shall comics be viewed on The Today Show as a feel-good story of overcoming adversary or Jerry Springer because comics screwed a family member? Our actions will decide if we come out of this with FINALLY more respect as an industry or stay just another throw away when done with commodity. We truly are all in this together.

The logo to Michael Davis' MD World.
The logo to Michael Davis' MD World.

About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.

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