Diamond Comic Distributors has canceled its 2024 Retailer Summit, as the distributor sales conference fades in favor of trade association events.  Diamond had announced at its San Diego Comic-Con retailer lunch last summer that the event was being postponed from its originally planned February dates to avoid conflicting with the ComicsPro Annual Meeting (see “Diamond Postpones Retailer Summit”), and in its announcement of the cancellation, Diamond said, “Our team is committed to finding alternative ways to engage and collaborate with all our retail partners, including seeing many of you next month at the upcoming ComicsPRO Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, and hosting our annual Retailer Appreciation Luncheon at Comic-Con International: San Diego in July.”

The distributor sales conference for retailers in the comics business dates back at least to the early 80s, when Russ Ernst’s Glenwood Distributors began holding an annual event in Las Vegas. Diamond added its Retailer Seminars around 1984, and Capital City Distribution picked up the mantle in the late 80s, hosting increasingly large annual events that peaked in 1993 (see “The Capital City Distribution Sales  Conference 1993 Photo Gallery”).  Capital City held its last event in 1995, and Diamond Comic Distributors began holding its annual Retailer Summits in 2000.  With the exception of Covid-related cancellations, that began a string of distributor events for retailers that continued until this year. 

It was perhaps inevitable that the comic distributor sales conference fade as distribution fragmented.  Five of Diamond’s largest publisher clients have moved their primary distribution from Diamond to other companies (including, most recently, Image Comics, see “Image Goes with Lunar”), reducing the roster of companies providing financial and programming support for Diamond’s event. 

The fragmenting of comics distribution has coincided with a more active ComicsPro under current President of the Board Jenn Haines (see “ComicsPro’s Haines on Conference and Prospects”).  Haines has promised the biggest ComicsPro event ever this year, with President of Marvel Comics and Franchise Dan Buckley as a high profile keynote speaker (see “Buckley To Deliver Keynote”).  All three of the comic distributors (Diamond, Lunar Distribution, and Penguin Random House Publisher Services) have signed on as Platinum Sponsors of the ComicsPro Annual Meeting.

Something of the same phenomenon has been taking place in the hobby games business, where the number of annual distributor events is down (Southern Hobby no longer holds an annual event), as the importance of GAMA Expo has grown.  It will be interested to see if Diamond sister company Alliance Game Distributors continues to hold its long-running annual Open House (which was successful last year, see “Rolling for Initiative – Alliance Open House 2023”), along with ACD Distribution, which has had a solid event in Madison, Wisconsin in recent years.