Comic Retailers Shocked: DC Plans to Radically Change Distribution

While trying to remain as secret as possible, DC Comics has apparently just made an executive decision on their comics distribution that will change the industry forever. In the wake of Diamond effectively shutting down, the publisher has made a big move that could upset a lot of retailers. Jim Lee has surprisingly been silent on the business side of comics publishing since the beginning of the global pandemic that has all but shut down the ability to get new comics, but now it seems like DC Comics is taking advantage of the shutdown to make a major change to their distribution model. DC told retailers today, that they will be publishing print comic books again starting Tuesday 27th April in both the USA and Canada. They named the two distributors, UCS Comic Distributors and Lunar Distribution, as the companies they would use. 

 

No one had ever heard of either of them.

 

According to our inspiration

 

…reporters called both UCS and Lunar earlier today. No one picked up, but UCS diverted an answerphone machine for Hal at Midtown Comics. One of the largest comic stores in the US, Midtown Comics of New York also handles Marvel and DC Comics subscriptions as well as comp copies for creators and other talent. Lunar just had an answerphone message with no identification but further investigation identified it as an operation being run by DCBS, the largest mail-order comics company in the US, based in Fort Worth, Indiana.

The early days of the direct market saw one store setting themselves up as a distributor to other stores – like Pacific Comics. Could this be a return to the early days of the direct market in more ways than one?  

 

Retailers are leery, since this means that for men, their biggest competitors will now have details on the ordering information for every store. Now, most domestic comic shops will have to place orders with their competitors. While Midtown Comics has had a Marvel subscription service, Marvel is still the entity there. This arrangement looks a little different and is still a bit confusing.

 

Retailers have been told that all their holding orders with DC Comics through Diamond Comic Distributors have been cancelled. Later in the day, they were told to contact their Diamond representatives to confirm their orders. Huh? The list provided to retailers also shows a little more than a dozen DC Comics titles, leaving many retailers wondering if this list means all other titles not on the list are cancelled.  Local comic shops have been assured that their Diamond discounts with also carry over to these new distributors. Obviously, DCBS and Midtown will now be getting an even steeper discount than previously.  

Here is the retailer communication sent out to stores today:

Dear Direct Market Retailers:

A couple of weeks ago we told you we were working on a solution-focused plan to address the current climate and help us all get back to the business of selling DC comic books, graphic novels, and collectibles in these difficult times, including the exploration of a multi-distributor model that would help to mitigate any further disruption to getting product into the hands of readers. We’d now like to share the details of our plan and next steps for its execution – which took into account your feedback, the market outlook, and the resources available at our disposal.

Current Orders

First, because of the global distribution disruption, all orders placed with Diamond Comic Distributors for in-store dates of 4/1, 4/8, and 4/15 have been cancelled with Diamond.  You will need to resubmit orders for DC’s upcoming titles. To that end, instead of simply “lifting and shifting” the same scheduled titles for each of the missed in-store dates, we’ve made changes to the publishing schedule. The new schedule is designed to allow each of you to begin ordering a limited amount of DC product at first, and then ease back into the number of books that represents a normal release schedule from DC when your business can accommodate it.

Updated Publishing Schedule

We are making new comics available to order now for release the week of April 27th into the direct market.  Below is the list of comics that will be available for you to order over the next three weeks. Once you receive your first order, you can release it on or after Tuesday 4/28/20.

New Comics available for sale on Tuesday 4/28

·  Batman #89 (3rd Printing)
·  Batman Giant #4
·  Daphne Byrne #4 (of 6)
·  The Dreaming #20
·  Nightwing #70 (2nd Printing)
·  Batman and the Outsiders #12
·  DC Super Stars Facsimile Edition #17
·  Flash #753
·  Green Lantern Season 2 #3
·  Hawkman #23
·  House of Whispers #20
·  Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity #4 (of 9)

New Comics available for sale on Tuesday 5/12

·  Harley Quinn #72
·  Justice League #44
·  Justice League Odyssey #20
·  Lois Lane #10 (of 12)
·  Metal Men #6 (of 12)

Distribution Options

To assist with the immediate distribution of DC titles during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we’ve secured the assistance of two distributors to help facilitate orders of and shipping of our revised publishing schedule.  Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors have agreed to work with us to distribute these new comics. Your orders will need to be placed no later than 4/21 to ensure receipt of goods by 4/28, and the orders can be released on or after 4/28. Reorders can be placed after the 4/21 date but are not guaranteed for receipt by 4/28.

To help facilitate the fastest processing of order fulfillment for the week of April 27th, we strongly recommend ordering with one of the distributors based on your location in order to ensure receipt of product by 4/28 in the U.S. Unfortunately, orders cannot be guaranteed to reach destinations outside of the U.S. by 4/28.

·  Within the United States go to https://www.lunardistribution.com to order product from Lunar Distribution if your store is located in the following states:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Go to https://www.ucscomicdistributors.com to order product from UCS Comic Distributors if your store is located in the following states:
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, West Virginia, Washington D.C.

·  Within Canada, go to https://www.lunardistribution.com to order product from Lunar Distribution if your store is located in the following provinces:
Albertam British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan

o  Go to https://www.ucscomicdistributors.com to order product from UCS Comic Distributors if your store is located in the following provinces:
New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Quebec

·  If your store is located anywhere else in the world, outside of North America, we recommend the following:

o  Diamond Comic Distributors (comics, graphic novels, collectibles) (please be sure to check their order processing status)
o  UCS Comic Distributors (comics, graphic novels)
o  Lunar Distribution (comics, graphic novels)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q:  What happens/happened to the DC comics, graphic novels, or collectibles in the orders that I have previously placed?
A:  Your orders have been cancelled; you’ll need to re-confirm your orders by 4/21/20 for the product being released on 4/28/20.  Retailers in countries outside of the United States cannot, unfortunately, be guaranteed to receive their product by 4/28/20.

Q:  So, wait, DC product is now available for release on Tuesdays?
A:  Yes.  We have synced up release dates across all our retail channels.

Q:  Can I continue to order my DC product from Diamond?
A:  Yes. Please call your Diamond Comics rep to confirm product availability.

Q:  Does my discount through Diamond stay the same through these new distributors?
A:  Your current discount terms will stay the same through Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors.

Q:   Do my credit terms through Diamond stay the same through these new distributors?
A:  If you are currently extended credit terms through Diamond, DC will expeditiously review your new credit terms through each distributor on a case-by-case basis.

Q:  Are my comics and periodicals still returnable through 6/24 in-store, even through these additional distributors?
A:  Yes!  Keep in mind you can only return the product to the distributor from which you ordered it.

Q:   What is DC doing specifically for the retailers who are unable to order books? Will I be able to get these 4/28 books in the future?
A:  If you can accept deliveries you may order 4/28 product. If you want these books in the future, you’ll be able to place them on reorder.

Q:  Ok, so what about digital books?
A:  Digital releases of print periodicals will return to “Same Day Digital” cadence, released the same day as the print editions.

Q:  How or where do I order new DC Direct collectibles?
A:  Due to the extended shipping timelines for collectibles, DC will send out communication when details are available.

Q:  Is there someone I can call if I’m having trouble placing my order?
A:  Each distributor’s order entry page will have information about how to contact them for help.

Q:  What are available resources that I could use to help me get back on my feet?
A:  You can apply for assistance with the BINC Foundation (COMICBOOK UNITED FUND) at https://www.bincfoundation.org/application-for-comic-book-store-assistance/

Q:  Ok, this was A LOT of information.  Can you just summarize everything for me?

A:  1) We’ve cancelled all orders placed through Diamond Comic Distributors for product originally slated for 4/1, 4/8, and 4/15 in-store dates.
2) A reduced slate of new DC product will be available in the market for sale the week of April 27th.
3) We’ve added two additional distribution options to help mitigate the regional inconsistencies in product availability that we anticipate will continue to happen.
4) We are syncing up availability for DC product across all retail channels.

DC Comics clearly needs money right now, so they are making moves which many DC fans will likely applaud. Diamond closing their doors, even if only temporarily, has potentially given them a way to get out of their distribution contract and they have looked for the most advantageous arrangement to get their product out. Still no word yet on what Marvel Comics plans to do, but Disney already has publishing and distribution resources, so we expect an announcement soon. Especially now that DC has made a big move like this. Will other publishers try to follow this model?

 

This could potentially be worse than last week’s Comics Hub idea, and an even bigger debacle than Marvel’s Heroes World distribution failure. Even if this turns out well for everyone involved, it means that the comics industry will never be the same as it was before. Meanwhile, DC publisher Jim Lee has still not commented at all since the beginning of the comics industry shutdown.

FAQ: #WhereIsJimLee ?

Chris Braly

I'm a collector, a speculator, and one opinionated, based geek. My friends call me Braly, but those who know me within the hobby generally refer to me as Bralinator. I can be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several other comic book nerds. Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly

JUST KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON