UCS Comic Distributors has informed its customers that it will no longer distribute DC products to retailers as of January 1, 2021. It referred its customers to Lunar Distribution as a source for DCs in the future.
UCS has been distributing DC products to comic stores since late April, when DC resumed production of new comics while its primary distributor to comic stores, Diamond Comic Distributors, was shut down due to COVID (see “DC to Resume Releasing New Comics April 28”). UCS, tied to brick-and-mortar and ecomm retailer Midtown Comics, was paired with Lunar Distribution, tied to brick-and-mortar and ecomm retailer DCBS (see “Retailers Tied to New DC Distributors”). For a time, DC split the North American territory between the two distributors along geographic lines; eventually retailers were allowed to buy from whichever distributor they preferred.
Diamond resumed its distribution of new comics in late May, so for a while there were three distributors selling DC products to comic stores. DC ended its North American relationship with Diamond for new products on July 1. DC also opened the comic store channel to its book channel distributor, Penguin Random House, for graphic novels, and opened two new distributors, EE Distribution and Sideshow, as distributors of its DC Direct statue, figure, and collectible line (see “DC Using Four Options for Distribution of DC Direct Products”). ICv2 EIC Milton Griepp looked at that series of transitions in a late June column (see “World According to Griepp; The DC-Diamond Story”).
With UCS ending distribution of DC products to comic stores January 1, North American retailers will have one option for DC periodicals (Lunar), two options for DC graphic novels (Lunar and Penguin Random House), and three options for DC Direct products (Lunar, EE Distribution, and Sideshow).
This puts some comic retailers in the position of having to make two distributor changes for DCs in under a year: first from Diamond to UCS, and soon from UCS to Lunar.
It’s unclear where DC is headed with the changes it’s made in 2020. In March, the company said it was exploring a “multi-distributor” model, which most took to mean that retailers could expect multiple options as suppliers. As of January 1, that’s true of all of DC’s products, except for periodical comics.
For its part, UCS sounds like it's not done with the distribution business, telling retailers, "UCS is not closing. We will be offerieng other exciting items that stores can use." A UCS spokesperson did not respond to questions about whether the period when it distributed DC comics was planned as a short-term relationship, and if not, why the relationship was ending.
Midtown did let us know that it will be buying comics for its retail business through Lunar, like other comic retailers.