Oni Press (and its sister imprints Lion Forge and Limerence Press) has joined DC in partnering with the upstart new comics distribution company Lunar to get its comics and graphic novels to North American comic shops. Unlike DC however, Oni will be keeping its long-standing comic shop distribution deal with Diamond Comics Distributors - but Diamond will no longer be Oni's exclusive distributor to comic shops.
"We're pleased to move into the future alongside Lunar as part of our continued effort to provide retailers of all shapes and sizes with their favorite Oni, Lion Forge, and Limerence titles," says Oni Press publisher James Lucas Jones. "With the addition of Lunar as one of our distribution partners, we are thrilled to offer new options and opportunities to the comic book specialty market. Lunar shares our dedication to continue to grow this important market together."
Oni is still working out when the first week of new Oni Press comics will be distributed through Lunar.
Oni Press' vice president of sales and marketing Alex Segura describes the new partnership as "additive," and that the goal isn't to replace Diamond. Segura also said that Oni didn't have any talks with Penguin Random House, who recently began distributing to comic shops thanks to a deal with Marvel Comics.
"Diamond has been great partners to us and continues to advocate for our books to retailers," says Segura. "This is really just about giving comic shops more options when it comes to ordering Oni books and products."
Lunar Distribution was launched in 2020 by the mail-order comics giant Discount Comic Book Service (DCBS) after DC decided to discontinue its 25-year relationship with Diamond. Lunar originally shared comic shop distribution duties for DC comics with another retailer-turned-distributor, but that second upstart discontinued operations leaving Lunar as DC's primary pipeline to comic shops.
Oni will now be Lunar's fourth publishing client, after DC, Scout Comics, and Ahoy Comics; the latter two signed with Lunar in March and July of 2021, respectively.
"Lunar is thrilled to be partnering with Oni Press," Lunar co-owner Christina Merkler says. "Oni is known in the industry as the independent publisher that retailers can count on to bring them high quality and inclusive products. With titles from Tea Dragon Society to Scott Pilgrim, they are a perfect addition to the Lunar family."
Currently Lunar only distributes to North American comic shops, so international comic shop distribution of Oni projects will still be de facto exclusive to Diamond. Outside of comic book shops, Oni's other distribution platforms remain the same - Simon & Schuster handle the Portland-based publisher's booktrade business, and all major digital comics platforms carry Oni Press titles.
"The Oni-Lunar partnership felt like a no-brainer to us. When Henry Barajas came aboard the Marketing team just a few months after I joined Oni, we all took a comprehensive look at our direct market side of the business," says Segura. "He was a big proponent for expanding the options we provide to our comic shop retail partners.
"We've all known Christina and the Lunar team for a long time, so it was very easy to figure out ways to make a partnership work in tandem with our existing distribution deal with Diamond. We're excited to give retailers more ways to order Oni products, and we're looking forward to working hand in hand with Lunar and their great team to augment our business."
But there's one catch, but possibly two…
What will the Oni / Lunar deal mean for readers?
Oni Press comics distributed through Lunar will be released for sale in comic book shops on Tuesdays. DC's titles are also released on Tuesday since they partnered with Lunar, a long-time change to what was a universal Wednesday release date through Diamond. Oni books that are ordered by comic shops through Diamond will have an on-sale date of Wednesday.
Oni booktrade titles distributed through Simon & Schuster will also go sale on Tuesdays as well.
Oni's on-sale dates for digital comics will remain on Wednesdays.
Another change spurred by the new distribution is the wholesale discount price of Oni titles comic shops qualify for. It's largely based on the overall volume of orders a shop places with a distributor. When DC moved from Diamond to Lunar, it affected the discount levels comic shops would receive - and in turn, what discount off cover price they could pass along to readers.
"We're still ironing out the specifics of our discounts to retailers and will be sure to communicate that to them directly once we're all set, but the goal is to make sure retailers have two great options when deciding where to order Oni Press books from," Segura tells Newsarama.
Now's a good time to make sure you have the right comic shop for you; check out our guide to finding and appreciating your local comic stores.