DC Comics has ended its decades-long distribution deal with Diamond Comics Distributors. The massive comic book company revealed in an email announcement Friday that it has cut ties with the distributor, shifting its products over to Lunar Distribution and UCS Comic Distributors for periodical releases and Penguin Random House for graphic novels and collected editions.
The email, which was sent out to retailers and first reported by The Hollywood Reporter, reads in part:
“We recognize that, to many of you, this may seem like a momentous decision. 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.”
Earlier this year, DC revealed that they had started testing out alternative distribution methods for its products. That news hit on the heels of Diamond’s decision to temporarily shutter distribution to retailers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and withhold payment to publishers for the foreseeable future.
While DC acknowledges that this decision was not made lightly, and essentially came down to the expiration date of their contract, the email confirms that the pandemic played some role in their verdict:
“DC has been analyzing its Direct Market distribution for some time, long before COVID, specifically in light of sustained stagnant market growth. The timing of the decision to move on from Diamond was ultimately dictated by the fact that DC‘s contract with Diamond has expired, but incidentally, the disruption by COVID to the market has required DC to forge ahead with its larger growth strategies that will benefit both the Direct Market and DC.”
Diamond has essentially held a monopoly within the North American comic book market for decades, holding exclusive arrangements with Marvel Comics, Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and IDW Publishing. While other major publishers have so far held back on alternative distribution methods during Diamond’s break, this is certainly a massive loss for the distribution chain. After all, DC Comics made up roughly 30 percent of the entire 2019 market share.
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