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Thread: Comics Are for People #10 (Diamonds and Monkeys)

  1. MattGrant Guest

    Comics Are for People #10 (Diamonds and Monkeys)

    When I said a month ago that the landscape of comics would see some major developments, I meant over the course of a decade or so... not just one month!

    Or even just a few weeks.

    Times they are a changin'...

    First off. Let me apologize for the lack of frequency of my columns of late. I have a lot of things going on this month, the biggest of which is WonderCon at the end of February here, and one thing I don't want to do is give you a half assed Comics Are For People!!!

    But here I am! Looks like Seb-Culture Part 2 (collecting) may be taking a back seat again as there's much to discuss this week. Let's try and do this item style:

    Direct Market Distribution

    Ah. One of the cornerstones in our conversations about getting comics to folks who don't already read comics right?

    I don't think I need to tell you that there's something going on with Diamond and the Direct Market. By this point, anyone who is in deep enough to be reading this column (ironic, I know) has probably heard that Diamond has raised their threshold, and knows that this has meant certain doom for some lower performing books.

    (For those that truly don't know, the super-short of it is you gotta sell more if you want to stay in the Previews catalog. Its more complicated, but that will get you there.)

    A lot of the initial reactions that I've read has been anger. I mean, up until this point, since the late 90s, Diamond has been the only game in town, and people have sort of gotten the feeling that, well, they have a duty to distribute everything because of that. Well, as it turns out, not so. Diamond is a business, and they have a duty to themselves to make money, and like most companies when times get tough (which, they are tough right now) they needed to cut some of the fat off the bottom to keep their numbers where they want them. That's just the way things go.

    The rough part is, though, that Diamond, more or less, has been the only game in town, which is sort of a euphemism for "monopoly." What that means is, those of you who aren't allowed to play the only game in town... well, you've just had your asses handed to you. Sorry buds.

    My dad has a saying and it goes something like this, "TS."

    Well, let's not go that far yet! This story (like any good comics story) gets interesting. The raised threshold has meant that even some established publishers (and by the way, most pubs have exclusives with Diamond) that have some books that get qualifying numbers, but others that don't, could be SOL with creative contracts and books in production that will never get listed in Previews. Obviously, these companies could fold if they don't get their books out, which wouldn't be good news for Diamond, who carry their higher selling books. So Diamond has said its "okay" for them to use alternative distribution channels despite their exclusive contracts.


    This could be good news for smaller time distributors like Haven and United Comics. A big opportunity for them, really, if retailers begin to accept the idea of ordering through multiple distribution channels. If the smaller distributors do well, it could mean even more good things for them, when the time comes for publishers to renew their exclusives with Diamond.

    Monkeying Around

    One of the most interesting things I've seen, though, is the sudden appearance of Comics Monkey, aka Ka-Blam's distribution. For those of you who are not familiar, Ka-Blam is one of the more prominent comics-focused POD (print on demand) publishers. They've been touting for quite some time they they were working on some angle of getting into the Direct Market, but it had all seemed like ambiguous talk. Anyone who uses POD (like myself) knows that, because of the expense, there's no way on earth you could buy your comics from a POD house, and sell them to a Diamond with the discount they'd expect (unless you super inflated your cover price... which won't work either).

    So Ka-Blam has kinda jumped on the perfect timing to introduce their POD distribution model. While they do offer a wealth of information about their plans at, a lot of things about how its going to work, is still a little ambiguous. But what it seems like, is, Comics Monkey is a distribution website operating much in the same way that is their retail order fulfillment site, only they offer (obviously) discounted product.

    Why would this work for POD? POD distribution would have to be operated by the POD house. Like I said before, POD is more expensive than typical print runs, so in order for, say me, to buy from them and then turn around and offer a discount to a distributor (Forby will probably swoop in with these figures, I've never actually supplied to diamond) who in turn also has to offer a discount to retailers-- well-- lets just say "negative profits." But if it goes directly from the POD house to the retailer, a good discount can be taken out (35% is what they're currently saying, which may increase) and I can still make a little bit of a profit-- or even at the very least (depending on peoples choice for mark-ups) you can not lose money. In fact, since its POD, you never even have to put any money out, which is nice.

    There are still some lingering questions, which I'll have to poke around and get some answers for next week. Such as: How are retailers going to sort through so much material, with literally everything available all the time? Does the 35% discount come entirely from creator mark-up, or is it a shared expense? I'll do some poking around and hopefully come back with some answers.

    Bottom line, though, Ka-Blam (or actually he parent company of all three sites, 01 Comics) is capitalizing on the perfect moment to try this model, and its kind of a cool one since it could potentially open up the direct market to a whole host of creators that were previously held back by the initial financial put out. Then again, for the same reason, it could be a distribution option too cluttered for retailers to want to deal with. Time will tell.

    CAFP Take

    It seems that a lot of stuff here that may not be relevant to my columns original intent has made it here. Well. I kinda flow with where it takes me, and our focus on the direct market and its various happenings, are... sorta relevant.

    But the fact of the matter is. A lot of this squabbling that has been going on has been about, "How do we keep our comics in the comics shops?" That's what everyone's worrying about.

    Maybe we should be asking ourselves, "Where else can we sell our comics?"

    Final thought

    ***As many of you know, I post my column on thursdays, on the heels of Seb's wednesday column. Since we don't put our heads together (and maybe we should) beforehand, I'll often find that Seb and I touch on similar items. I thought about totally scrapping my column and starting with fresh subject matter, but, I think we both hit slightly different angles, and since what is happening right now is HUGE to the future of comics, I think that its worth keeping the column intact.

    That said, I cannot recommend ENOUGH that you head on over to Seb's column and check it out, as he seems to have dipped more into the the numbers end of things, particularly with Comics Monkey. He may even have answered a few of my questions for me! Check it out!***

    That's it for this week, until next time...

    Give a comic to a friend... or better yet... and enemy!



    Matt Grant is a graphic designer and self-publishing comics and webcomics creator. His comic MastorisM can be read at and updates Tuesdays and Thursdays. A long time comics fanatic and advocate for the medium, Matt eats, sleeps, and breathes comics. Tapatio, folks, tapatio.

    Matt would love nothing more than to hear from fans, retailers, creators, and publishers that have anything relevant to contribute to his column. He believes that, only by working together, we can bring the comics medium to a wider deserving audience. Please feel free to email him at, private message him here, or harass him on the street! Matt does not claim to be an industry expert in any way shape or form, but rather an opinionated pundit on the sidelines.
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  2. Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Post Thanks / Like

    Matt, great column! I, personally, love that we separately keep coming up with the same themes to our columns. It shows we're touching on topics that appeal to more than just ourselves, and (hopefully) more than just each other!

    Besides, you have a picture of the monkey in yours, and that alone lifts you to a higher level!

    Maybe we should put our heads together. We could start one giant uber-column, SEB-standard, taken for GRANT-ed.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5

  3. DavidPaul Guest

    Maybe the two columns should merge to become one.

  4. MattGrant Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianPiccione View Post
    Matt, great column! I, personally, love that we separately keep coming up with the same themes to our columns. It shows we're touching on topics that appeal to more than just ourselves, and (hopefully) more than just each other!

    Besides, you have a picture of the monkey in yours, and that alone lifts you to a higher level!

    Maybe we should put our heads together. We could start one giant uber-column, SEB-standard, taken for GRANT-ed.
    Your pun has amused me all weekend (and BTW my blog on is titled G-Rants)... sigh.

    Then i got to thinking... "is he serious?"

    Then i got to thinking: Could make for a good point/counter-point - siskel/ebert kinda chemistry. Y'know, 99% of the time, you leave some long columnesque response to my columns, and i start to write a long response, and it gets so long i stop and say to myself "save it for the column!" (in case you wonder why my responses to yours are ever sparse). So... joking or note, maybe you're onto something... what do you think? Might take some coordinating/planning/formatting... but hey!

  5. Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Post Thanks / Like

    I think you're on to something, here! We could keep our individual columns, and, if Sykora signs off on it, we could work out a joint column where we discuss and/or debate comic series, comic trends, anything genre, etc.

    We could (taking the puns to a new level) call the column: S & M.

    It'll take a lot (especially for US) of coordination, so maybe it shouldn't be weekly, but bi-weekly or even monthly.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5

  6. MattGrant Guest

    I can see it now... people will way "I LOVE S&M!" or "I always look forward to some good S&M"



    But I digress.

    I think we're cooking up a good idea here.

    Yeah, due to coordination, I think it would have to be at-least bi-weekly.

    Lets brainstorm a bit about formatting, and how we'll get this done, and then maybe shoot for March sometime? (once the cons are out of the way)

  7. StevenForbes Guest

    Good idea. Go for it, guys!

    (And nevermind the fact that I gave you a month's worth of columns, Mat, or that Seb frequently springboards off of me... Only for me to be left out in the cold, cold arctic wind for my troubles. No, don't worry about Forbes. He's a jerk, anyway. He's not needed or wanted around here. You'd be better off with zombie midget monkeys, anyway. :sniff: )

  8. MattGrant Guest

    Well, as long as your not bitter!

    You want to ratchet up to 3 columns?

    I can't blame you for wanting to join seb and myself for S&M. (oh. I think... i will never get tired of this joke).

    (nope. still funny!)

  9. DavidPaul Guest

    Hey, I'd pay top dollar to see zombie midget monkeys.

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