Is the Last Independent Comic Distributor Calling It Quits? Haven Shutting Down

There used to be more than Diamond, you know. Capital City, operating out of Madison, Wisconsin, was the best-known alternative comic distributor, but there were times when there were a double handful of choices for retailers. Then in 1994, Marvel bought Heroes World to use as their exclusive distributor, and DC signed an exclusive with Diamond in response, and it all came down to Diamond being the only major left.

Haven Distributors logo

Former Capital City staff tried to make a go of it with FMI, but after going backlist-only in 2006, they shut down a couple of months later. That left only Cold Cut Distribution, who operated out of California from 1994-2008 and focused on small press and independent comics.

Cold Cut sold themselves to new owners and became Chicago’s Haven Distributors in 2008. Now, Elin Winkler (publisher of Radio Comix) has mentioned on Twitter that “Haven Distribution is apparently going to close their doors at the end of October.” She got an email from them via a comic shop where she works. Another retailer tweeted similar news.

From an outside observer’s perspective, Haven never seemed to develop the loyalty that Cold Cut had. It’s not a good sign that a Google search for “comic distributor” still lists the defunct Cold Cut before Haven. Those businesses always had a hard time of it. With most direct market shops dependent on Diamond for their bread-and-butter superhero books, it was only the most forward-looking stores that bothered with another account. A smaller company could provide more personalized service, but most stores didn’t find that worth the hassle.

The answer to my title question, though, is “no”. Now, Diamond’s independent distribution competition comes from comiXology, working with publishers to make their works available digitally by selling directly to customers.

Update: Tom Spurgeon adds valuable perspective on how Diamond became a monopoly.


6 Responses to “Is the Last Independent Comic Distributor Calling It Quits? Haven Shutting Down”

  1. ComicsCritic Says:

    Back in the 1990’s, I owned a store in the midst of those distributor wars – between the wars and the speculator crash, it drove us out of business. We were originally a Heroes World account, and eventually when the exclusive deals went down, we opened had both a Capital City and a Cold Cut account.

    Cap City and CCD were great with retailer support; much better than Diamond and what Heroes World became under Marvel. Our margins became noticeably slimmer due to the spreading out of accounts, but it was the only way to ensure we’d get not only our comics, but our Magic cards and a wide array of indie back stock.

  2. Dwight Williams Says:

    A disturbing development in every sense.

  3. Comics A.M. | Haven Distributors closing? George defense rests | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment Says:

    […] Distributors | Johanna Draper Carlson catches a couple of tweets from publishers indicating that independent-comics distributor Haven, formed in 2008 from the assets of Cold Cut Distribution, is shutting down at the end of the month. Calls for confirmation this morning to Haven’s Skokie, Illinois, offices went to voicemail. The company’s closing would leave Diamond without any significant competition for independent comics distribution — print comics, at least. As Johanna notes, the industry giant still has a rival in another quarter: digital distributor comiXology. [Comics Worth Reading] […]

  4. Liber Comic Distro Says:

    Liber Comic Distro will fill the void! http://www.LiberDistro.com

    Email us through the contact form on the site and we will get you set up with an account.

  5. Weird Crime Theater - Aw, jeez. Says:

    […] http://comicsworthreading.com/2011/10/04/is-the-last-independent-comic-distributor-calling-it-quits/ […]

  6. Jan Stolz Says:

    The comic book companies have done themselves a grave disfavor by going to direct distribution. When I was a kid, you could find comic books in any store in town. Greed and stupidity has ruined a market that once had monthly print runs near a million issues a title. Now, if even a quarter of that is printed they consider it stupendous. Go back to the old way of distribution. It only makes sense.




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