A Bit of Comic Direct Market History
Milton Griepp, who runs icv2.com, used to own Capital City Distribution, which was headquartered here in Madison, Wisconsin. Turns out that CCD was formed 40 years ago this month, and Milton has posted a brief reminiscence of the company’s history. (KC worked for CCD in customer service early on for a few years, by the way.)
CCD was one of the biggest comic direct market (selling from publishers to comic stores) distributors, until DC’s decision to go exclusive with Diamond in 1995 eventually left that other company as the only one standing. (That was announced the first year I went to the San Diego Comic Con, and at the time, I had no idea what it meant. We’ve all learned a lot since then.)
But before that, CCD ran for sixteen years, as you can read from Griepp. Be sure to check out their one-page monthly order form.
Just like comics are still sold in 2020, we took orders for a month’s worth of comics at a time and shipped those quantities non-returnable when the books came in. The difference was that in 1980, all of the major titles fit on one side of an 8-1/2” x 11” piece of paper. We listed Marvel, DC, Warren, and Harvey issues by title and issue.
Note that it was a lot easier — and cheaper, at 60 cents an issue — to keep up with the entirety of the comic market back then. We have a lot more variety in content, format, shopping locations, and creator diversity now, but there are still plenty of people making decisions who remember how things used to be… and some of them wish it was that way again. Simple is comfortable. Doesn’t require as many decisions to be made.
By the way, it was an open secret in the mid-90s that part of the DC exclusivity deal was that the comic company had the right to buy the distributor. Steve Geppi, owner of Diamond, recently confirmed that that is no longer the case.