DC and Universal Distribution enter new comic book Direct Market distribution agreement

DC and Universal Distribution have signed a new comic book distribution agreement
(Image credit: DC/Universal Distribution)

DC officially has a new distributor for the specialty comic book Direct Market: Universal Distribution, a Canadian company that's been distributing comics, tabletop games, and more for 30+ years. The two companies signed a new global agreement on September 1, which goes into effect in October. 

Under this new agreement, starting in October retailers can order DC periodicals, collected editions, and graphic novels that go on sale beginning in January 2023 and beyond through Universal Distribution. 

However, Universal Distribution will not be the sole Direct Market distributor for DC. The publisher will also continue its relationships with Lunar Distribution and Diamond UK for Direct Market sales of periodicals and graphic novels, as well as its relationship with Penguin Random House for worldwide distribution of graphic novels and collected editions.

"This agreement enables us to provide retailers with the tools they need to grow their DC business," Universal Distribution CEO Angelo Exarhakos says in the announcement. "Our primary focus has always been to work closely with our key partners to help retailers provide a great experience for their customers. We are huge fans of DC and are extremely excited with this new relationship between our companies."

DC vice president of sales and marketing Nancy Spears says the partnership between DC and Universal Distribution is in line with the publisher's goal to "strengthen the Direct Market and grow the number of fans who read comics worldwide."

"This move sees DC doubling down on its distribution strategy, and further mitigating operational and supply chain disruptions," Spears explains. "DC is committed to looking for ways, together with our new partners, to better serve our fans. We remain committed to the Direct Market and look forward to growing the network of comic book retailers to get the best comic books and graphic novels to fans in the most efficient and seamless manner."

DC broke ties with Diamond Comic Distributors in 2020 and ended a 25+ year relationship in which Diamond was DC's exclusive distributor. At the time, DC announced it would team with Lunar Distribution and UCS Distributors, though the latter relationship dissolved in 2021. When DC announced its decision to split with Diamond, retailers who spoke to Newsarama were initially unhappy about the news.

Following DC's move to a multi-distributor sales model, Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing also cut ties with Diamond, effectively ending the then-distribution giant's quarter-century monopoly on Direct Market comic book distribution.

Although the long-term future of the relationship between DC and Lunar, Diamond UK, and now Universal, respectively, remains to be seen, for now DC's new agreement with Universal Distribution means retailers will once again have a choice of where to place their Direct Market sales when historically they've had only one. 

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Samantha Puc
Editor, Newsarama

Samantha Puc (she/they) is an editor at Newsarama and an avid comics fan. Their writing has been featured on Refinery29, Bitch Media, them., The Beat, The Mary Sue, and elsewhere. She is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction at The New School.