Yesterday, Bleeding Cool reported on early issues with Penguin Random House's distribution of Marvel Comics, to whom they are now an exclusive distributor to the direct market of comic book stores in the USA (Diamond still does them to the UK). I learned that Marvel Comics is aware of the issues and SVP David Gabriel and his team are addressing the problems. The common story seems to be that single comics are being shipped like books, though the former is far more subject to shipping damage without additional packaging and protection. Here are a few more reports we have received, from those with damages, those with concerns, and those trying to call those damages in to Penguin Random House for replacement or refund;
- Nick Kelley of Chimp's Comix, Indiana, told us "About 60% damages at my shop. Hope they get this fixed soon."
- Jason Passini of Got Comics, Illinois told us "About half of my order is damaged. I'm sure I can still sell it to comic collectors, they don't mind issues that aren't mint…right?"
- Ramsey Ramirez reported in from McAllen, Texas, saying "30% damages at our store Kaboom Comics but at least we got em I guess."
- Rob Jensen told us "Not a single one of the boxes show was even an iota acceptable. Even Diamond does better simply by having its custom boxes with slightly reinforced corners. Which isn't saying much, given that Diamond doesn't make the boxes big enough to pad with bubble wrap or styrofoam, but still, it's pretty hard to do *worse* than Diamond and PRH succeeded at that failure."
- Gary Slaughter told us "As a retailer, this is the worst thing that's ever happened. I'm on with Penguin House as I throw this and we're told…"dings and bends are sellable, you can't submit that as damaged." and tell customers that to their faces!"
- The King of Komics wrote "Half of my order was too damaged to sell, and over half of the rest would be considered damaged under normal circumstances, but I need product to sell this week, so it'll have to do. Yes, PRH doesn't control UPS, but they could pack in a way to overcome shoddy handling (like Lunar does with DC). If I was a conspiracy-minded individual, I'd think that last week's Double Final Order Cutoff was to make sure stores had an extra week of orders in to make jumping back to Diamond just a little bit harder…"
- That Comic Shop tweeted out "Dear Customers, this week saw the first #Marvel product shipped from #PenguinRandomHouse. And let's just say it was NOT good. I'm getting flashbacks to the Lunar Distribution fiasco that led me to drop DC books. Here's hoping PRH actually responds to my emails."
- David Weitz of All American Cards and Comics in Ohio, told Bleeding Cool, "We only had two comics on bottom damaged and the hoops they want you to go through to report damages doesn't make it worthwhile. They essentially want forensic evidence and you even need to tell them the name of the person who packed your merchandise, like they're going to get fired if you do turn in a damage report."
- While Scott1968 also was damage-free but was full of warnings of the ides of October. "I was a lucky one that got a shipment without damages. However, this past week an absolute disaster for the rollout of PRH. They had months to prepare. They bragged about custom boxes and good packing. "It's gonna be great!" It appears they didn't show these boxes to even one retailer or even "test" a box to see if it could handle a drop or rough handling. Did anyone over there even investigate how other distributors ship comics? If I was in charge of PRH, I would FIRE the manager of the comic division. A major, major, epic fail. What's funny is that PRH actually managed to make Diamond's packing and shipping look good"
Better luck with Penguin Random House next week folks? Let us know how it goes…