Marvel Comics has announced a game-changing deal with Penguin Random House. The publishers have announced an exclusive worldwide multi-year sales and distribution agreement. It includes newly published and backlist comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to comics shops. This is known as the Direct Market. Penguin, one of the largest book publishers in the world, will officially begin distributing all Marvel titles starting October 1.
Marvel says they made the decision after a thorough analysis of the market environment. The comic book giant hopes to “create a sustainable, productive supply chain and enhanced infrastructure for Marvel publications that will benefit comics retailers and fans alike for years to come.” This represents one of the biggest shakeups to the business side of comics in some time.
“Marvel’s entire history is built on telling great stories. And as we’ve seen for decades, those stories go hand in hand with equipping the comic shops who share them. Marvel and Penguin Random House stand by that vision, and we are excited to build and expand those opportunities for our talent, retailers, and fans,” said Dan Buckley, President of Marvel Entertainment. “Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry. We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market. We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas.”
Up until April 2020, Diamond Comic Distributors held a near-monopoly on the Direct Market. Marvel, DC, Image and other publishers almost exclusively used Diamond for distribution. But the pandemic changed all of that. Marvel’s new deal with Penguin further releases Diamond’s stranglehold on that side of the industry. DC had also previously shifted its distribution strategy.
“This is an exciting time for comics, and we’re thrilled to partner with Marvel in taking the next steps to support the growth of the marketplace, together with our Direct Market retail partners,” said Jeff Abraham, President of Penguin Random House Publisher Services. “Based on the foundation of our relationships with physical retailers, we’re confident in the significant growth of the comic book industry and welcome the opportunity to further collaborate with and invest PRHPS’ resources in the Direct Market. Combining the standard-setting supply chain and sales capabilities of PRH with Marvel’s renowned universe of stories and characters, we expect to reach even more fans of its artists and writers throughout the world.”
Diamond has responded to the news, saying the following.
“We value our almost 40-year relationship with Marvel and are pleased that we will continue selling Marvel products to the Direct Market and other channels. The change Marvel announced today represents a behind-the-scenes shift in how Diamond interacts with Marvel for certain products, but does not impact our ability to supply our customers with Marvel comics, trades, and graphic novels. I expect the discount terms under which our retail partners order these Marvel products to change, and Diamond will communicate that information to our customers well in advance of any adjustments. While there are still details of this new arrangement to work through, my leadership team and I are committed to making this supply change as operationally seamless as possible for our retail partners and we look forward to our continued distribution of Marvel products.”
Marvel and Penguin Random House’s deal goes into effect on October 1.