- Posted by Johanna on October 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm
- Category: Comic News
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.
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.