Both DC Comics and Diamond Comic Distributors have sent messages to retailers updating info on how orders for the comics DC is releasing through three distributors beginning this week, and although some of the differences in communications we identified last week (see “Diamond, DC Diverge in Retailer Communications”) have been resolved, others remain. As we pointed out in our article last week, the biggest change is that these are no longer joint communications, but separate communications that do not match in key respects.
First, it seems as if DC has prevailed and Diamond has canceled orders for DC products in the pipe for much of April. DC had announced that Diamond was canceling orders and that retailers would have the opportunity to choose between Diamond and two new DC distributors as their source for rescheduled DC releases beginning April 28 (see “DC To Resume Releasing New Comics April 28”).
Following the DC announcement, Diamond had told retailers that it was maintaining their orders, although they’d have a chance to change them as FOCs resumed before Diamond’s start date for distributing new product. In its latest communication to retailers, Diamond now says, “At DC Comics’ request, Diamond has reduced the retailer order quantities of upcoming DC Comics products to zero.”
DC confirmed that orders originally scheduled for release the weeks of April 1, April 8, April 15, and April 22 have been canceled. That adds another week (the week of April 22) to the weeks DC said had been canceled in its previous announcement. “We have discussed this with Diamond and they have agreed to this reset,” DC’s message to retailers said, to clarify that the previous difference had been resolved.
The turnaround for orders to Diamond on the rescheduled books DC is releasing for the next few weeks is short: retailers have until the end of the day Monday, April 27. Retailers ordering through Diamond will know only that the books they’re ordering will be received when Diamond resumes shipping new product in “’mid- to late May” (see “Diamond Plans to Resume Shipping New Product ‘Mid- to Late May’”).
One bit of news in the Diamond announcement was that it was adding DC periodical and collectible products with an on-sale date of May 26 to the Final Order Cutoff list on Monday. The status of DCs planned for release May 19 is unclear.
A second difference in the past round of communications by DC and Diamond remains: how to release graphic novels. DC is making graphic novels released in the book channel available through all its distributors, but Diamond is choosing to space that product out rather than make it all available. Neither company mentioned that difference in the new communications with retailers, although graphic novels were specifically excluded from the May 26 product Diamond said it is adding to its FOC list on Monday; only periodicals and collectibles were mentioned.
A third difference also remains: the day on which new comics should be released. Diamond told retailers that it is putting DCs planned for release May 26 on its FOC list Monday. That’s a Tuesday, which would make DC’s release day different from the day Diamond has traditionally released new comics, on Wednesdays. That difference has not been explicitly addressed by either company.
DC put retailers on notice that only communications directly from DC should be relied upon. In a Q&A for retailers posted in its Facebook group, DC included this:
"Q: What is the best source for the latest DC product and distribution updates?"
"A: When it comes to DC’s business and products, the information you need will come directly from DC. Watch for more updates coming soon."
While DC and Diamond are clearly trying to resolve differences in what they’ve been presenting to retailers, it’s also clear that the relationship has been badly strained and that resolving those differences is not easy.