Dark Horse Comics and Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) are expanding their relationship. Dark Horse has announced that starting June 1, 2023, PRHPS will be its exclusive single-issue distributor for the Direct Market (comic book specialty shops), which expands the companies' current relationship significantly.
PRHPS has distributed Dark Horse graphic novels and manga since 2013, and now it will also distribute Dark Horse single-issue comics, graphic novels, and manga to the Direct Market. Under this new, multi-year agreement, retailers can order new and backlist single-issue Dark Horse titles directly from PRHPS, or order them wholesale through Diamond Comics Distributors.
"It's an exciting time for the industry, and our move to Penguin Random House for Direct Market distribution comes after our successful partnership in bookstore distribution. Random House will help us expand our reach to retailers and fans around the globe," says Dark Horse founder and CEO Mike Richardson in the announcement.
He adds," Diamond Distribution has been a key partner for Dark Horse for nearly 30 years. As we move on to this next stage in our company’s growth, we want to say thanks to Steve Geppi, Chuck Parker, and the Diamond team, and while we will be moving our comics distribution to Penguin Random House, it is important to note that our products will still be available through Diamond as well."
PRHPS president Jeff Abraham says, "We are incredibly proud of our long-standing partnership with Dark Horse, and are excited to reach new heights with this expansion. We’ve grown together in an ever-evolving retail landscape for graphic storytelling, and we see this next step as further commitment to supporting Dark Horse, and our retail partners, well into the future."
Penguin Random House has long been the book market distributor for several comic book publishers, including Marvel Comics, DC, and IDW Publishing. Marvel and now Dark Horse have both entered Direct Market agreements with the company as well, as the landscape of comics distribution continues to change following Diamond's shutdown in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to Dark Horse's announcement, Diamond founder Steve Geppi issued a statement that reads: "Dark Horse has been our valued partner for close to 30 years and we are pleased that Diamond remains a key source for Dark Horse comics and graphic novels to the Direct Market domestically and internationally. We are also pleased to maintain our role as distributor of Dark Horse merchandise worldwide.
"It is important to note that while Dark Horse is an established name in the industry, the expected impact of this change to Diamond's Dark Horse direct market sales represents only approximately 1 percent of Diamond’s top line sales inclusive of comics, games, merchandise, and pop culture items. We are so much more than just comic book distribution! Diamond and all the Geppi Family Enterprises companies have worked strategically and successfully to diversify over the years, with our most recent example being the launch of Overstreet Access, an online subscription comic collection management platform and price guide.
"I remain proud of the role Diamond plays in the industry and steadfast in my commitment to the Direct Market. I look forward to our continued service of the Direct and book markets as well as the continued growth of the GFE portfolio of companies."
Geppi's comments are positive, but Diamond has slowly been losing its near-quarter-century monopoly on Direct Market comics distribution since DC broke ties with the company in 2020 and began using a multi-distributor sales model. Penguin Random House Publisher Services is concurrently expanding its reach in the Direct Market, which may or may not continue to be the case if more publishers choose to make the switch from Diamond to another distributor.
Dark Horse Comics is home to one of the best non-Marvel/DC superhero universes of all time.