Wednesday has always been a favorite day of the week for us here at I Am Geek. Not only does it symbolize that the current week is halfway done, “hummmmp daaaaaaay”, but it’s also the celebration of the greatest weekly tradition. New. Comic. Book. Day. I live for Wednesday. I Am Geek lives for Wednesday. There is just something so pure about knowing that there will be new comic books on the same day every week seemingly until the end of time. It’s like seeing wet cement with no one around and being able to draw whatever you want into it. It’s like being the first person to step in newly fallen snow. It’s like the gods themselves come down once a week and hand us new reading material while saying, “Hey, you deserve this awesome.” New Comic Book Day is easily the greatest day of the week. As sure as the sun sets, unless you’re in that part of Alaska where that movie Insomnia took place in which case the sun is out for like half the year, there will be new comic books on a Wednesday.
This pandemic has been hard on us comic book fans and much harder on our local comic book shops. Once things really took off with COVID-19, Diamond the major comic book distributor put all shipments on hold kind of handcuffing our favorite local comic book shops. With no new material to sell a lot of our favorite stores took a pretty big hit as they struggled to keep their heads above water. Yes, selling back issues, graphic novels, and random geeky items helped but at the end of the day, our local comic book shops rely heavily on New Comic Book Day. It brings people into stores and customer pull lists bring in a good amount of revenue… providing you’re actually picking up your books. Don’t be that guy who just leaves the books there and doesn’t buy them. You’re doing more harm than good.
With Diamond opening back up we’ve had a couple of weeks now of new comic books as the world slowly dips its toe in this post/but also current COVID world. I wish I could say that the world is returning to normal but I think we can all be honest with ourselves, the way things are and have been, maybe we need a new normal. But we still have comic books. New ones in fact. On Wednesday… right? Isn’t that when new comics come out?!
Yes, this is still true but DC Comics has kind of thrown a bit of a curveball into our weekly tradition. If you’re reading DC Comics which means your Batmans, Supermans, Wonder Womans, and Justice Leagues, then you’re getting your new comic books on… Tuesday. Yes, Tuesday. Not Wednesday. A curveball that more than just interrupts our weekly tradition but seems wildly selfish and self-serving while also hurting our local comic book shops in a time where they could deal without the extra stress. I picture our local shops looking at DC right now much like Loki did with Skurge. “You had one job. Just the one.”
It seems that DC Comics thinks that now is an appropriate time to separate themselves from being distrusted by Diamond which is causing a whole bunch of headaches. For starters, they are using two different distributors for their products which means our local shops have to pay different shipping costs in order to stock DC books on top of the shipping costs with Diamond causing them to miss out on some of the discounts provided in large Diamond orders. Which means if you’re a casual comic book fan looking to pick up a random issue of Batman or the Suicide Squad, you might find that your local comic book shop is carrying less and less DC books in order to cut back on costs.
Granted, Diamond has received a bunch of criticism during its tenure as the major comic book distributor. In some cases even being called a monopoly. It in no way is perfect. Hell, back in the 90’s Marvel did the same thing DC is currently doing by finding a new distributor. Which more or less ended with the industry in turmoil and Marvel eventually signing an exclusive contract with the only surviving distributor Diamond. But from a local comic book shop standpoint, DC making this move seems like terrible timing. As stores are trying to get their feet back on the ground they now have to factor in new costs with distributors they don’t have a lot of experience with. It’s a tough look.
I’m not saying that Diamond has to be the end all be all for comic distributors, I just think that DC could have picked its moment to separate at a better time. A lot of this stems off of Diamond not releasing books during COVID-19 and DC wanting to get books out there. You can’t make money if you’re not selling your product and I understand DC’s frustration there. But this move seems less financial and a little more spiteful and that spite will have financial ramifications on our local shops. You would think as a major comic book company that you would do everything in your power to support/protect the shops that sell your books. That just seems like common sense. But DC has found a way, in a world where we just got new comics back, to piss off their sellers. Some stores, like Mile High Comics, have even gone as far as having “DC Sucks” sales, selling books at fifty percent. Whether or not that becomes a trend is yet to be seen but backlash and frustrations are very prevalent.
On paper you would think having two New Comic Book Days would be better than one, but just because you have two doesn’t make it better. Especially when you consider the financial impact that having two New Comic Book Days could have on your favorite stores. From a company that houses heroes like Superman, this feels like a very un-Superman-like move. More like a Zack Snyder Superman-like move. And while we wait to see what the long term impact is, I think we can all shake our heads and agree that we need more Superman-like moves right now and should always ignore Zack Snyder’s interpretation of the character…