An imaginary tale:
Suppose in some far-off other dimension, Marvel Comics was bought out by, oh, say, Disney. And Disney already had excellent bookstore distribution in place. And we knew Disney didn’t put any real effort into producing Direct Market comic books of their characters, since they licensed them out to companies like Gemstone and Boom! Studios instead of creating the comics themselves. So we’d assume the Direct Market really didn”t mean much at all to Disney, and they wouldn’t care whether it lived or died.
If, in this mythical world, this buy-out actually happened, it would seem to me that Disney, soon after taking possession of Marvel, would consolidate all of its lucrative bookstore distribution (of both Marvel and Disney properties) into one placeâ€”and I’d bet it wouldn’t be at little ol’ Diamond. And if Marvel pulled its bookstore material out of Diamond, Diamond would be in serious danger of collapse, leaving the Direct Market without its one main distributor, and all the comics shops and publishers would be looking for a very large paddle to get them up that creek.
And even if that didn’t happen, I’d bet that, in this imaginary world, some clever corporate person at DC/Time Warner would be smart or scared enough to at least imagine it could happen, and would start taking steps to come up with a contingency plan for DC’s Direct Market distribution, figuring, “Hey, if there’s even a chance Marvel might do it, we better be prepared.”
And wouldn’t you suppose that, even if Marvel wasn’t really planning to pull their stuff from Diamond, some honcho there would find out that DC was making alternative plans, so they’d figure, “Hey, if DC’s doing it, we might as well do it anyway,” making it even more likely to happen.
And just for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that DC’s contingency plan revolved around some rumored “right of first refusal” to buy Diamond that was part of an exclusivity agreement Diamond got DC to sign the last time Marvel took distribution into its own hands, during that Heroes World debacle of the 1990s. That could leave DC/Time Warner owning Diamond, and distributing all the Direct Market product (including Marvel’s, assuming that Disney didn’t try to start its own Direct Market distribution system).
And wouldn’t you imagine that the Steve Geppi of this other dimension, reportedly plagued with some financial woes and already enacting major cost-cutting measures at Diamond, would jump at the chance to sell the whole shebang if a decent offer came along.
A world with no Diamond.
(Goodbye paper comics industry, hello Internet?)
A world where Diamond was owned by DC.
(Where would that leave all the smaller publishers?)
A world where DC distributed Marvel’s comics to the Direct Market.
(Would DC limit Marvel to, say, 8 titles to the Direct Market, a la the deal Martin Goodman had with DC in the early 1960s?)
So many questions…
All I know is, I wouldn’t want to be a small Direct Market publisher in an imaginary universe like that one.
I’m just sayin’…