In Blow to Publishers, Comics Distributor to Withhold Payments

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Borys Kit
Should Diamond Comics Distributors fail, the impact it could have on the industry would be catastrophic.

The fallout of the comic book industry shutdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic continues with the news that Diamond Comics Distributors will be withholding payments this week in the light of cash flow problems.

Diamond is the exclusive distributor for the industry's biggest publishers, including Marvel, DC and others, and it ships materials to stores around the country.

"The unfortunate truth is that we are no longer receiving consistent payments from our customers," Stan Heidmann, president of Diamond parent company Geppi Family Enterprises, explained in a letter to venders, which include comics publishers and pop culture manufacturers of toys. "This requires that at this time, we hold payments to vendors previously scheduled to release this week. This is a difficult decision and not one we make lightly.”

The letter continues, “As this situation continues to evolve, we are committed to building out a plan for payment and will have more information to share later this week.”

Comic shops around the U.S. have been closed due to the coronavirus.

Diamond announced last week that it would temporarily cease shipments to comic book stores as a result of the coronavirus, effectively ending the print comic book market for an unspecified time. It's unknown how severe Diamond’s cash flow problems are. To further complicate the matter, Diamond is headquartered in Maryland, which is currently under a stay-at-home order.

Diamond has exclusive deals with the majority of the big publishers in the comic book industry following a 1990s shake-up caused by an ill-fated plan by Marvel to self-distribute, giving it a virtual monopoly on print distribution for the industry. Should the company fail, the impact it could have on the comic book industry would be catastrophic, likely putting many publishers and retailers out of business.

In its statement to retailers this weekend, DC suggested that it was already looking at alternative distribution possibilities, although it’s unclear if that was intended as a short-term option during Diamond’s temporary shutdown, or something more lasting.

THR has reached out to Diamond for comment without response at the time of this writing.