It's been a rather busy day at Bleeding Cool Towers. Diamond Comic Distributors confirmed our story of last week that they would be returning to distribute comic books on or around Sunday, May 17th. 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. As this Google Streetmap view of UCS' credit application location indicates.
Diamond Comic Distributors told Bleeding Cool "We value our partnership with DC and will continue to support them as a distributor. Our focus is squarely on getting our industries' entertainment products in the hands of fans as quickly and as safely as possible. As we shared this morning with our vendors and retailers, we are currently building our restart plans and targeting mid- to late-May to being shipping new weekly product. If we see signs that it is safe to resume shipping earlier, we certainly will. However, with the limited number of retailers open and most customers on stay-at-home orders, our focus is on supporting our industry and the health and safety of our stakeholders."
It is worth pointing out that the titles DC Comics are soliciting for the end of April are those with relatively low print runs. Daphne Byrne, second prints of Batman and Nightwing, and the Dreaming finale, all originally planned for April 1st. But not the big titles planned for April 1st, such as Batman #92 featuring the big Harley Quinn/Punchline battle or Legion Of Super-Heroes #6, and they have no plans to distribute them in May. Which suggests that Diamond still has those in their warehouses. That DC Comics is reprinting the titles that they are offering for Lunar and UCS to distribute, with an aim to junking the copies that Diamond has. But they can't justify doing that with a title such as Batman #92 and its 100,000-ish print run, so Batman #92 will have to wait until Diamond gets back into the game. Maybe.
DC Comics social media account states "new comics are returning to shops beginning April 28! If you're not seeing some of your favorite titles, they will be back when more stores open their doors. Keep an eye on the retailer map to see purchase options in your area." DC Comics has provided this map of comic book stores that are still open. Though it is notable that the one listed for Britain is actually Fortress Of Solitude in Newark in New Jersey, so many the reliability is not 100%.
So how are retailers publicly reacting to the news that those stores allowed to open, will have copies but not the rest (and no one outside North America), and that digital will be widely available whether they are or not? And what is Marvel planning in all this? And just how did Diamond's planned 25% payment of moneys owed to publishers go down last week? Might it have informed this decision? Lots of questions.
Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience in San Francisco reacted with a simple "Uh oh", adding later "I have about a dozen more mail orders to get out today before I can WASTE MY AFTERNOON FIGHTING BACK AGAINST IRRATIONALITY." This reaction was common among retailers online with JC Cunningham of Graham Crackers Comics offering a simple "Not thrilled". While Tim Girard of Border City Comics asked "DC what are you doing?? Making things more confusing for retailers in a time when simplicity and patience is needed. Nice job." There is the feeling that many stores will be out of luck, or disadvantaged against, and that this is also a way to justify going all in with digital comics as well.
Fans and creators seem to be a lot more positive in reaction to the news. Stuff will be getting out there, even if it's in a limited fashion. For some, that's all that matters.