Comic Market Disruption Continues as DC Leaves Diamond Comic Distribution

Still reeling from effects of the Covid pandemic, the comic retail market was thrown into tumult this past week as DC Comics made the sudden announcement that they were terminating their decades-long distribution deal with Diamond Comic Distribution. Although the parties were quiet about the motives for this change, it did come following tensions brought on by the temporary halt in comic distribution due to the Covid-19 shutdowns, as well as the expiration of DC's exclusive deal with Diamond, signed during the "Distributor Wars" of the mid-1990s.

The previous round of distributor struggles had begun in mid 1995 when Marvel decided to drop its distribution deals and exclusively self-distribute through their newly acquired Heroes World distribution outfit. This stripped the remaining comic distributors of over a third of their revenue overnight, and caused Diamond Comic Distribution and Capital Ciy Distribution to make frantic negotiations to lock up the larger comic publishers in their own exclusive deals in order to survive. The bidding came to a crescendo when Diamond managed to snag DC in an exclusive deal, locking up the vast majority of the remaining comic market. This effectively doomed rival Capital City Distribution, who would have been forced to make do with the relatively tiny revenue to be had from Dark Horse, the then-young Image Comics, and the smaller independent comic companies.

Ironically, it was not long after that Marvel, finding itself ill-equipped to manage the difficulties involved with running the physical distribution of their comics, was forced to come back to Diamond--which was by then the last man standing in terms of North American comic distribution.

With this latest move, DC announced that their distribution will be split amongst newcomers Lunar and UCS comic book distributors, with Penguin Random House handling their book sales. Aside from causing additional stress on comic retailers, it remains to be seen what effect this sudden reshaping of the comic market will have. For now, let's just say that 2020 has definitely shown that it has more than a few surprises up its sleeve...

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