It’s Black Friday, but it’s also just regular Friday, which means it’s time for Comics Disassembled, my look at ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics. This week, we’re looking at a wide range of subjects, but it all starts with the industry’s distributor messing up to an almost absurd degree.
1. Diamond, Blowing It
This week, Diamond Comic Distributors did just about the most wildly insane thing they could possibly do, even if it was an accident. In an attempt to motivate shops to order a slew of high profile January 1st Marvel releases – they weren’t available on initial order, only on final order cutoff – they reached out to around 200 stores, and in the process they included a document that Bleeding Cool suggests included all of the contact information for every Diamond account and what they order from Marvel on a monthly and yearly basis. It was suggested to me that this document also included each shop’s discount.
It goes without saying that this is a very, very bad thing. Beyond the fact that shops already weren’t overly fond of Diamond and giving out all of their information is certainly not a good way to regain it, I have to imagine Diamond is gritting its teeth as they fear a potential – or I would argue probable! – court date about this very issue. Ignoring the fact that this information was shared without permission, there’s also the data privacy issues that come with any of these stores, especially if any of the shops were part of the European Union, which makes this a GDPR issue. Which is also probable! There are a lot of bad things here! That’s without even noting the potential in-fighting between stores if someone has a discount that’s greater than what others who spend less might have, which, needless to say, would not be ideal.
I’ve heard this document is a rather desired object in comics right now, making it a real comic book Ark of the Covenant type. Loaded with every Diamond account and how to contact everyone, of course every publisher, creator and PR/marketing professional would want this. It’s all of the access without any of the work!
I am largely a Diamond apologist relative to my peers, as it’s a tough situation that they do…fairly well at. Are they perfect? No. Are they close to perfect? Also no. But they carry a lot of weight and largely do it decently well. But this is an absolutely astonishing disaster, and one that probably has a lot of people at a lot of publishers asking a lot of hard questions. This will not be the last time we hear about this. It’s a bit of a nightmare.
2. The Piracy Subject, Raging
One of the Comics Internet’s favorite subjects blew up once again this week, as Crowded inker Ted Brandt tweeted an understandably frustrated message about the piracy levels of his series. It all started with this tweet, which said, “How do you get your stuff taken off of a pirate site? CROWDED’s up to 95,000 reads on one I just looked at, while I’m completely broke.” That’s the tragic nature of comics piracy, and it led to an endless conversation that went back and forth and pro and con and yada yada yada.
I wrote a deep dive piece about this subject back in 2016, and honestly, I don’t have a lot to add. 95,000 reads does not mean those are lost sales. At the same time, piracy is still bad, and it’s bad regardless of publisher, as pirating Marvel comics can lead to pirating Crowded or Little Bird or Saga or whatever. Beyond that, there is always a cost, one way or another. There’s no perfect answer, but honestly, these sites need to go. I know a lot of people said things like, “What about the people who don’t live in a country with comics in their libraries or access to ComiXology?” and while my heart goes out to them, I’m unsure these kinds of sites are the right answer.
It’s good that creators noticed this finally, though. When I wrote that piece in 2016, it led to me reaching out to publishers about this issue. Awareness was low even amongst them, and it seems creators were even more behind. It’s time for everyone to stand against these sites, and it’s better if it’s together. We’ll see what happens next, but I’m hopeful this is a positive first step.