Diamond CEO and owner Steve Geppi has been appearing on the Comic Book News with Dan Shahin YouTube channel with a number of prominent comic book retailers. With much of the comics industry visiting to watch and chip in questions, as to the state of the comic book industry, its history and what should be done given the current global situation. Hell, I even saw Gary Groth in the comments.
So we got to hear stories of Heroes World, of DC Comics getting Diamond exclusivity, of DC's right to buy Diamond but without the intent to, and of monopoly. Steve talked about his intent for Diamond to succeed by being the best at the cheapest price, and the only way to achieve that was volume. With Dan Shahin dubbing the years 2000 to 2020 as the Diamond Age of Comics, that era of exclusivity has now ended with Lunar and UCS breaking that with DC Comics.
Geppi talked about appreciating and enjoying the competition, sounding a bit like Timothy Dalton in Hot Fuzz, and how DC Comics is just trying to serve retailers. The only problem he has with competition, is that it takes volume away from them and increases costs, but DCBS/Lunar and UCS/Midtown are good big accounts of Diamond. He never likes to hang around negative people who have a problem for every solution.
Steve Geppi, still a big supporter of DC Comics
He stated that Diamond has always been and always will be a big supporter of DC Comics, just as in 1995 when DC Comics stood up for the industry during the Distributor Wars and he feels the same for Marvel. He was more upset that people would think that DC was unhappy with Diamond, that this was more of a situation trying to find a solution, that there was no hidden agenda or animosity. That "if DC is unsuccessful it hurts us, same with Marvel in 1995, we didn't wish Marvel any ill will… At least DC is still selling to us." He says that he wishes Midtown and DCBS the best, and how they are in it to grow the market. If Diamond is 90% of its marketshare instead of 100% but it increases in size, they'll benefit. He points out that some say that Marvel's Heroes World decision was the best thing that happened to Steve Geppi. He recommends calm, not panicking, and making intelligent decisions."
He talked about how the industry has been put into ICU and need to be cautious coming out, that publishers are onside with this and they are asking retailers what they can take to start to move back to normality. Geppi pointed out that restaurants have taken a much bigger hit as people have been eating at home instead of going out to eat. But comic book readers, collectors, they still want to read Batman #92, they won't want a gap in their reading or their collection, and there will be a pent up cumulative demand from the die-hards.
You can't destroy comics with two months
Geppi says that "rumours of the demise of the comics industry are greatly exaggerated, we will rise from this' and of the May 20th return to shipping, "we're really looking good for that date. I can't control the President or the governors any more (he did use to, it's true), but in my mind, we're going to ship. You can't destroy our industry with two months. There's a lot going to support the economy, it'll be back bigger than ever."
Brian Hibbs of Comix Experience in San Francisco was asking what happens when California is shut down until at least June, when there may be an uneven market for distribution, asking how wise it is to restart the industry where a significant portion of the market is closed. Steve didn't have any real answers, he batted the question back but brought up other revenue sources, Brian Hibbs wanted to concentrate on the health issues.
From Wednesday to Tuesday
The Wednesday to Tuesday change for DC Comics new comics day doesn't seem to be affecting Steve Geppi's plans for the rest of comics, wondering how many regular collectors would come in twice a week. But he remembers the distributor wars when competitors used air freight to get a day advantage, with so much money going into increased shipping costs rather than on the comics. It's not a game he seems to want to get back into.
Geppi also talked about Diamond being in great shape, even though they have had to furlough employees, but insists he will have them back and that with stimulus cheques and unemployment payments, some Diamond employees are doing better right now than they were before.
He talked about how, when Diamond became an account of JP Morgan Chase, the payment plan to publishers after the schedule was all managed with their existing credit facility without having to ask anyone for anything else. So much so that Diamond could go beyond the May 20th ship date without asking for more.
Geppi says that his advice to everyone who loves comics and games to say hey, we're solid, we're going forward, this was a blip. He looks to DC's current shipping plan as spoonfeeding product back to the market, he thinks all companies will be doing the same. "We can't just go back and jam it down the system's throat." As for current product he states that everything that should have come out on the 1st of April is in the Diamond warehouse and everything that should have come out on the 8th of April is at the printers. We'll bear that in mind for future analysis.
Free Comic Book Day in the Fall
He stated that Diamond was still doing Free Comic Book Day, that he can't let a year go by without it. He looked to the autumn for a date, and with its founder, Joe Field on the call was able to bat around the idea of when would be a good date, if there was the possibility of doing two Free Comic Book Days a year, how it might work with Hallowe'en Comic Fest, and reminding everyone that FCBD still works.
There was a lot of discussion about overproduction, cost of shipping, the size of the monthly humungous Previews catalogues and more. Steve Geppi said that Diamond is looking into this, that some Previews decisions are tied into publisher contracts, who have a specific desire as to how their comics are represented, and it has to work out but Previews "has to be an efficient tool, not a laborious one."
Diamond to distribute back issues
Geppi also buried one of the ledes, that Diamond Comic Distributors is looking to get into the back issue game, by providing apps for comic book readers and stores so they customers can order valuable back issues that the individual store might not have, from Diamond, to sell to specific customers with a want list. And a solution to the many comic book stores that can't run a back issue section, but would provide the same kind of markup that retailers make on back issues. Something that comic book retailer Larry Docherty said in the comments was a sign that Steve Geppi was wanting to sell his comic book collection."
Watch the whole thing here, and keep an eye on Bleeding Cool's coverage of the New Distributor Wars of 2020 and the way the current situation is impacting on the comics industry as a whole. This article covers both.