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DC Comics cuts ties with America’s biggest comics distributor

Diamond Comic Distributors loses a major piece of its puzzle

JUSTICE LEAGUE #45 cover Image: DC Comics
Matt Patches is an executive editor at Polygon. He has over 15 years of experience reporting on movies and TV, and reviewing pop culture.

After nearly 25 years working with Diamond Comic Distributors, DC Comics will find an alternate route to comic book shops. Diamond was the exclusive distributor for DC, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, Viz Media, and more until this week, when DC ended the relationship. The company will now tap Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for weekly releases, and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions, a DC spokesperson told Polygon.

“We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision,” DC representatives said in an email sent to retailers on Friday (first printed by The Hollywood Reporter). “However, we can assure you that this change in DC’s distribution plans has not been made lightly and follows a long period of thought and consideration. The change of direction is in line with DC’s overall strategic vision intended to improve the health of, and strengthen, the Direct Market as well as grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide.”

According to the note, Diamond will fulfill orders through June 1 and will not solicit the sale of new DC titles further. DC will shift the Final Order Cut-Off from June 8 to June 15 to ensure that customers don’t miss an issue.

The comics industry’s pre-order system has existed relatively unchanged since 1997, when Diamond won a de facto monopoly on comics shipping in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. The company’s process has often been cited as being cumbersome for readers, adding complications for retailers, and blurring sales numbers for comics.

In March, Diamond ceased all distribution in the wake of COVID-19 concerns, forcing most comics publishers to halt the rollout of new books. On March 31, the company also announced that it would withhold payments to vendors like Marvel and DC. Major publishers eventually found ways around the decision. For DC, according to Diamond CEO Steve Geppi, that meant breaking an exclusivity contract with 60 days’ notice.

The announcement challenges the norms of the modern comics industry. At a time when everything has already been upended, the decision should prove polarizing.

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