Steve Geppi explains how and why DC's 25-year exclusive agreement with Diamond ended

(Image credit: DC - Diamond Comic Distributors)

In April 2020, DC broke from its 25-year-long exclusive agreement with comic book Direct Market distributor Diamond and began distributing their titles through two new entities, Lunar (owned and operated by mail-order comic book giant DCBS) and UCS (owned and operated by mail-order giant and brick-and-mortar store Midtown Comics). 

Despite confusion among industry observers as to whether DC's "multi-distributor model" changed the terms of the DC and Diamond agreement, Diamond founder Steve Geppi has confirmed that it did, and explained exactly how it happened, with the seeds planted over a year before the COVID-19 pandemic was even a thought in people's minds.

"DC, in their last contract renewal a year-and-a-half ago, asked to add a clause where they could get out of the exclusive part with 60 days notice with no reason needed. We agreed," Geppi explained as part of a larger conversation with Newsarama. "Then the pandemic came on, and they exercised that option. They're non-exclusive, and that allowed them to sell to those others. That was that."

When asked what the original terms of the deal were, Geppi explained.

"For 25 years, Diamond had a contract to exclusively distribute DC's comic books to the direct sale comic book market. It wasn't about geography or brick-and-mortar, but about terms of sale," Geppi said. "If you are a customer buying non-returnable comic books, you're buying from Diamond."

According to Geppi, DC told him that the decision to explore the "multi-distributor model" was temporary - but no one really knows how long temporary is.

"They've talked to these other two distributors, and even they have said it's temporary. No one's defined 'temporary' though, so DC may continue, or may change again. Based on what DC has told me, it was temporary - to solve the problem of books not being shipped."

Lunar Distribution co-owner Christina Merkler was non-committal when asked about their new company's long-term plans, telling Newsarama while they began distribution to fill-in while Diamond's operations were suspended, they will re-evaluate their plans once stability has returned to the Direct Market. 

When asked if DC's non-exclusivity will affect their status as one of Diamond's 'Premier Publishers,' Geppi said it will not - although there may be a new sub-category created for major non-exclusive publishers like DC.

"DC is definitely still a Diamond Premier Publisher. Our Previews catalogue will be going through a lot of changes, but they'll still be there. They're [DC] no longer exclusive, so we may eventually differentiate 'Premier' publishers who are exclusive and 'Premier' publishers who are not. Keep in mind though, with Previews DC and Marvel years ago broke out of the main catalogue with their own separate catalogues."

Chris Arrant

Chris Arrant covered comic book news for Newsarama from 2003 to 2022 (and as editor/senior editor from 2015 to 2022) and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table. (He/him)