The transformation of the Direct Market for comics, which began last year with DC’s move to a new distributor for comic stores (see “DC Cutting Off Diamond”), has just been thrown into a new phase with the announcement today that Marvel has signed an exclusive multi-year agreement with Penguin Random House to distribute Marvel comics and graphic novels to comic stores. The new arrangement will have Penguin Random House Publisher Services, which already distributes many graphic novel lines to bookstores and comic stores (see “PRH Acquires S&S”), distribute all Marvel titles beginning October 1. Hachette will remain (for now) Marvel’s distributor of graphic novels to the book trade. 

The new deal is being done “…to create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come,” Marvel said in its announcement.

Under the new arrangement, PRHPS will sell to Diamond as a wholesaler, allowing Diamond to continue to offer Marvel products to its customers, albeit under different terms.

PRHPS laid out some its plans for serving the Direct Market, announcing that it will offer free freight to retailers on Marvel products, as it does on its other lines.  The first Marvel catalogue for distribution through PRHPS will be distributed in print and made available online in July to active accounts.  Early solicit titles shipping in October or after will be available to order beginning on May 26.

Here are the key executive quotes that accompanied the announcement. 

Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley:  “Marvel’s entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we’ve seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans. Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry. We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market. We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas.”

PRHPS President Jeff Abraham:  “This is an exciting time for comics, and we’re thrilled to partner with Marvel in taking the next steps to support the growth of the marketplace, together with our Direct Market retail partners. Based on the foundation of our relationships with physical retailers, we’re confident in the significant growth of the comic book industry and welcome the opportunity to further collaborate with and invest PRHPS’ resources in the Direct Market. Combining the standard-setting supply chain and sales capabilities of PRH with Marvel’s renowned universe of stories and characters, we expect to reach even more fans of its artists and writers throughout the world.”

[Steve Geppi]
Diamond Comic Distributors CEO Steve Geppi (released separately): “We value our almost 40-year relationship with Marvel and are pleased that we will continue selling Marvel products to the Direct Market and other channels.  The change Marvel announced today represents a behind-the-scenes shift in how Diamond interacts with Marvel for certain products, but does not impact our ability to supply our customers with Marvel comics, trades, and graphic novels.  I expect the discount terms under which our retail partners order these Marvel products to change, and Diamond will communicate that information to our customers well in advance of any adjustments.  While there are still details of this new arrangement to work through, my leadership team and I are committed to making this supply change as operationally seamless as possible for our retail partners and we look forward to our continued distribution of Marvel products.”