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Marvel picks Penguin Random House as new distributor

Marvel and Penguin Random House
(Image credit: Marvel / Penguin Random House)

Marvel Comics has found a new distributor to get its comics into comic shops: Penguin Random House.

Marvel has entered into an exclusive multi-year deal with Penguin Random House's distribution arm to deliver its comic books, trade collections, and graphic novels to the comic shop market (the Direct Market) beginning on October 1.

"After a thorough analysis of the market environment, Marvel has chosen Penguin Random House Publisher Services (PRHPS) as its distribution partner 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," reads Marvel's announcement. "Penguin Random House is known for its state-of-the-art multi-ranging services that enable independent booksellers to increase efficiency and profitability."

What does this mean for Marvel's longstanding Direct Market distributor Diamond, which it had been exclusive with since 1997? Direct Market retailers can still order their Marvel comics through Diamond, although Diamond would be acting as a wholesaler to the Direct Market, ordering Marvel products through PRHPS.

From 1997 to 2020, Diamond Comic Distributors has been the primary (and nigh-exclusive) regular distributor of comic books to comic shops. After a COVID-19 led shutdown of their distribution in March 2020, DC broke away from Diamond and partnered with new distributors for comic shops.

Diamond Comic Distributors

(Image credit: Diamond Comic Distributors)

"Comics are the core of the Marvel Universe, and we are confident this new partnership will continue to grow and evolve this resilient industry," Marvel Entertainment president Dan Buckley says in the announcement. "We look forward to advancing our capabilities with PRHPS to serve our fans and the Direct Market," Buckley says. "We thank Diamond for their many years of support and partnership as we continue our relationship with them in other areas."

Marvel will continue to partner with Hachette Book Group for distribution of its trade collections and graphic novels to the booktrade market.

"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," says Buckley.

PRHPS already distributes comics to the booktrade, but this would be their first major foray into the Direct Market. Their booktrade client list includes DC, Archie Comics, IDW Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, and Kodansha Comics. It's possible those booktrade clients of PRHPS could consider using it for the Direct Market as it enters this new arena.

"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," says PRHPS's president Jeff Abraham. "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."

Unlike DC when it similarly switched distribution partners in 2020, Marvel is sticking to its usual Wednesday release date.

Marvel's first releases for PRHPS will be solicited for order starting May 26.

Marvel's digital distribution appears unchanged. Check out our list of the best digital comics readers for Android and iOS devices.

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)