Rick Keefe of R-Galaxy Comics in Tucson, Arizona saw our coverage of Marvel's new distribution deal (see 'Marvel Signs With Source Interlink') and feels that it's bad for independent retailers:
Marvel's decision to sell to Interlink to rack comics at major book store chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders is another signal that Marvel has absolutely no interest in supporting the current specialty market model, and has in fact SOLD US OUT in their continuing effort to boost their sales, and more importantly to executives, their STOCK PRICE.
I find it ridiculous that we as an industry decided to move Free Comic Book Day to time with the release of Spider-Man 2, a Marvel movie, when Marvel is willing to take the bread and butter of comic book stores away and pass it off to the corporate chains.
I feel no need to support Marvel in the way that I have been in the past. Their decision just doubled or tripled or quadrupled the number of competitors that I and other independent comic specialty shops have to work against. It is a clear signal to me that Marvel DOES NOT have our best interests at heart.
In these economically strained times, when there are many independent companies unable to publish on a continual basis due to financial constraints, and larger indies like CrossGen and Chaos! have met downsizing or bankruptcy, I see Marvel's move as part of a design (conspiracy theory?) to attack the current specialty store model and rip it apart AGAIN, just as their botched attempt at self-distribution in the middle 1990s put thousands of stores out of business. This action threatens to do the same. And where is Diamond? I would like to hear Diamond's statement, because I can't believe this will be good for Diamond Distribution.
Don't believe the Marvel line which they will spout about 'trying to grow the market,' because if they were serious about this, they would have been trying co-op advertising, more in-store promotions, touring popular artists or writers to stores, etc. etc. in an effort to promote the specialty shops.
In fact, now it will be an even more slanted playing field because you know for sure the big chains will get MASSIVE discounts and be able to undercut almost every specialty store in the nation, just like the toy model. And you know the toy model DOES NOT work for specialty stores, on the whole, and even the few exclusives we get don't balance things out. Our wholesale prices on toys are often equal or more expensive than the big Wal-Mart and Target's retail prices.
I see nothing good about this move, and am immediately considering de-emphasizing Marvel and promoting anything but Marvel in our stores. But I realize that there really is not much that we can do presently against this unfortunate decision by Marvel, since Marvel CURRENTLY is such a large part of the comic book scene. And what happened to Diamond's exclusive relationship with Marvel? Was that ball dropped? And is AOL-Time Warner-DC far behind in considering such a move?
I am sure this is just the beginning of a specialty store industry wide crisis that will make infinite earths look like a picnic.
Good luck to all. And from a Silver Surfer fan, make mine anything but...
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.