World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Diamond Comics Distributors

Article Id: WHEBN0013319625
Reproduction Date:

Title: Diamond Comics Distributors  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jeremiah (comics), Powers (comics), Reed Waller, 2005 in comics, Direct market, Ed the Happy Clown, Hellsing, Future Comics, Geppi's Entertainment Museum, Palisades Toys
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Diamond Comics Distributors

Diamond Comic Distributors
Industry comics
Founded 1982
Headquarters Hunt Valley, Maryland, USA
Key people

Stephen A. Geppi, CEO
Chuck Parker, Exec VP & COO
Larry Swanson, VP Finance & CF0
Cindy Fournier, VP Operations
Roger Fletcher, VP Sales and Marketing
John Wurzer, VP Purchasing
Chris Powell, VP Retailer Services
Kuo-Yu Liang, VP Sales and Marketing: DBD
Mike Schimmel, Sales Director

Dan Manser, Marketing Director
Products comic book distribution
Revenue $500 million
Employees 540

Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. (often called Diamond Comics, DCD, or casually Diamond) is the largest comic book distributor serving North America. They transport comic books from both big and small comic book publishers, or suppliers, to the retailers. Diamond dominates the direct market in the United States, and has exclusive arrangements with most major U.S. comics publishers, including Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, IDW Publishing,[1] Image Comics, Marvel Comics, and more.

Diamond is also the parent company of Alliance Game Distributors, Diamond Select Toys, Diamond International Galleries, Hake's Americana & Collectibles, Morphy's Auctions, Baltimore magazine, Diamond Book Distributors, E. Gerber Products, Gemstone Publishing, and Geppi's Entertainment Museum.

Diamond publishes PREVIEWS, a monthly catalog/magazine showcasing upcoming comic books, graphic novels, toys, and other pop-culture merchandise available at comic book specialty shops. The publication is available to both comic shop retailers and consumers.


Diamond has what it calls an "open-door policy" to new suppliers. This means that anyone who makes a comic book can send samples of it to Diamond for review. If the comic book has sufficient sales potential, Diamond might distribute the comic book to retail stores for the comic book creator.


In 1982, Baltimore-based comics retailer Steve Geppi founded Diamond Comic Distributors. Diamond became the successor to direct market pioneer Phil Seuling's distribution dream when it took over New Media/Irjax's warehouses in 1982. Diamond further bought out early-distributor Bud Plant Inc. in 1988, and main rival Capital City Distributors in 1996, to assume a near-monopoly on comics distribution, including exclusivity deals with the major comic book publishers.


By 1981/82 Geppi had four comics retail locations and was already "doing a little informal distributing... for smaller retailers."[2] Geppi found himself "one of the biggest accounts" for New Media/Irjax,[2] and when the distributor "relocated to Florida, he asked Geppi to service more accounts for a bigger discount."[2] One of the "last loyal customers" when New Media began having fiscal difficulties, Geppi made a deal: "[t]he owner was going into retail," so Geppi agreed to provide New Media/Irjax with "free books for a period of time in return for his account list," buying parts of the company, and founding Diamond Comic Distribution.[2]

Geppi had been a sub-distributor for Hal Shuster's Irjax in the late 1970s.[3] In what Mile High Comics' Chuck Rozanski describes as an "incredibly risky and gutsy move," Geppi took over New Media/Irjax's "office and warehouse space" and, recalled Rozanski, had to "sort out the good customers from the bad overnight" negotiating with creditors to continue Shuster's distribution business as Diamond Comic Distribution.[4] Almost overnight, noted Rozanski, "[h]e went from being a retailer in Baltimore to having warehouses all over the place."[4]

Geppi named his new company 'Diamond' "after the imprint Marvel Comics used on non-returnable comics," and although the "publisher discontinued the symbol" months later, the name remained.[2] "Diamond grew an average of 40 percent a year," as comics retail took off.[2]

In 1983, Diamond hired an accounting firm, and in 1985 hired "no-nonsense CPA," Chuck Parker "as Diamond's first controller."[2] In 1994, Diamond employee Mark Herr noted that this move was Geppi's "best decision," as Parker "cares nothing about the comics. To him, it's dollars and cents."[2] Parker describes his role as "smooth[ing] the emotion out of some decisions. Steve [Geppi] is a visionary and a risk-taker... and I tend to be more conservative."[2]


After starting his business through buying New Media/Irjax's warehouses and offices in 1982, Geppi's distribution company has bought out many other distribution companies since. Many fans "with little experience" started rival distribution companies only to "find they were in over their heads," allowing Geppi to "[buy] out the smart ones or pick... up the pieces after the stupid ones went out of business," according to Herr.[2] Diamond was aided in his efforts by the publishers themselves. In the early 1980s, Marvel and DC Comics provided trade terms favorable for larger distributors and those with efficient freight systems, effectively "play[ing] into the hands of the major distributors such as Capital and Diamond," and hastening the demise of smaller distributors.[3]

Bud Plant Inc.

Most notably, in 1988, Geppi bought up early mail-order distributor Bud Plant Inc.,[5] who had himself bought out Charles Abar Distribution in 1982.[6] Plant had, since 1970, been selling underground comics (a field which Geppi and fellow distributor Buddy Saunders had tended to steer clear of).[6] After making $19m in sales in 1987, Diamond bought West Coast distributor Plant's business[7] in 1988 "and went national"[2] thereby assuming control of "40 percent of the direct-sales market."[6] (Diamond and Capital City Distribution had control of at least 70% between them.)

Further expansion

In 1992, Diamond acquired the British distributor Titan Distributors, an arm of Titan Entertainment Group.[8] By 1994, Diamond had "27 warehouses in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K., employ[ing] between 750 and 900 people;" owned its own trucking line; and controlled 45% of the market, making $222 million in sales.[2]

Heroes World and Capital City Distribution

In 1995, Marvel Comics challenged Diamond and main rival Capital City by buying the third distributor — Heroes World Distribution — and distributing its titles in-house.[9] Diamond reacted by outbidding Capital City for exclusive deals with Marvel's main rivals DC Comics, as well as Dark Horse, Image, and Archie Comics.[10] Capital City's response saw it sign exclusive deals with Kitchen Sink Press and Viz Comics, but a year later faced the choice between bankruptcy and selling out. Diamond bought Capital City in the summer of 1996, assuming near-control of the comics distribution system.[9][11] The purchase price was not disclosed, but the acquisition brought an estimated $50 million in sales revenue to Diamond.[11]

In early 1997, when Marvel's Heroes World endeavor failed, Diamond also forged an exclusive deal with the House of Ideas[12] — giving the company its own section of comics catalog Previews (not least because the DC/Dark Horse/Image deal gave contractual prominence to those companies) — making "Geppi... the sole king of comics industry distribution in the summer of 1996."[4]

Antitrust litigation

In 1997 Diamond's position in the comics industry, as "the sole source of most new comics products to comics specialty shops," ultimately saw the company become the subject of "an investigation by the U.S. Justice department for possible antitrust violations."[3]

In the summer of 1997, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an antitrust investigation into the comics industry and the alleged monopoly of Diamond Comics. The investigation was closed in November 2000, with no further action deemed necessary[13][14] on the basis that, although Diamond enjoyed a monopoly in the North American comic book direct market distribution, they did not enjoy a monopoly on book distribution (books including non-comic books).

International and book trade

In addition to having cornered the American comics distribution market, Diamond includes a number of subsidiary and affiliated companies. UK and European comics distribution is served by Diamond UK, based in London, England.

In 2002, Diamond consolidated its book trade into Diamond Book Distributors, marketing graphic novels and trade paperbacks to bookstores including Barnes & Noble, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and Borders.[15]


In 1983, Diamond was criticized for taking exception to certain "adult"-themed titles and scenes, effectively causing the cancellation of a series called Void Indigo for its excessive violence.

In 1987, Geppi responded to "a graphic childbirth scene in Miracleman #9 [written by Alan Moore]." Geppi wrote to retailers that: This call for retailers to refuse to stock Miracleman[16] led to accusations of censorship,[17] charges the company was forced to address when it criticized or refused to carry other titles, including books by Kitchen Sink Press,[18] and Dave Sim in 1988,[18][19][20][21] Jon Lewis in 1994,[22] and Mike Diana in 1996.[23]

Diamond lost customers with this approach, however, "and eventually backed down."[2] Geppi recalls compromising, and accepting "that as a distributor, I owed the retailers the product they wanted."[2] In fact, in an attempt to prove Diamond did not practice censorship, the company joined DC Comics in 1993 to raise money for the industry the First Amendment advocacy group Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.[24]

Because of its industry dominance, Diamond also faced charges it bullied publishers[25] and discriminated against small publishers. These charges first surfaced in 1988 when Diamond rejected Matt Feazell's comic Ant Boy,[26][27] and in 1989 when it similarly decided not to carry Allen Freeman's Slam Bang anthology.[28]

After the industry consolidation of 1996, Diamond faced similar charges in 1996,[23] 1999,[29] and 2000 (when smaller publishers like Fantagraphics and Drawn and Quarterly lodged complaints).[30][31][32][33]


Diamond's monthly comics retail catalog, PREVIEWS has been produced by Diamond for over twenty-five years for store owners and comic shop customers to order their products. It is additionally available for sale to customers to facilitate pre-orders from "pull and hold" or subscription customers who frequent comic shops on a regular basis. Comics publishers vie for space within the publication's pages, with DC, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW taking precedence. Marvel Comics has its own mini-catalog of Marvel Previews available separately, for contractual reasons. A fifth publishing company, IDW was offered a separate section in 2010 as a premium publisher.

Geppi is also president and publisher of Gemstone Publishing Inc., through which he publishes The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.[34] Gemstone has also published Russ Cochran's EC Comics reprints, Disney comics and Blue Book price guide in the past as well.

Diamond also publishes (through Gemstone and Diamond International Galleries) a weekly e-newsletter dealing with comics and collectibles and their auction values, called Scoop.

Baltimore magazine

In 1994, Geppi purchased Baltimore magazine,[35] "a 50,000 circulation monthly and one of the nation's oldest regional publications."[34]

Gemstone Publishing

Main article: Gemstone Publishing

Geppi's publishing ventures in the comics field saw him form Gemstone Publishing Inc., which was formed in large part from other purchases. In

In 1994, Geppi bought Overstreet Publishing, taking up the publishing reins of official-Blue Book priceguide The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, and other related publications, bringing them under the Gemstone imprint.[4] Geppi's publishing activities with Gemstone Publishing consist primarily of reprints of classic titles and artworks, as well as publications (including professional fanzines "pro-zines") focusing heavily on the history of the comics medium. Many Gemstone publications revolve around Comic Book Marketplace-editor and EC-shepherd Russ Cochran.

EC Comics reprints

Main articles: EC Comics and EC Archives

Cochran, like Geppi, was a particular fan of Carl Barks' Disney comics, and had previously-published EC reprints in association with Disney-reprinter Gladstone Publishing. In the early 1990s, Geppi's Gemstone embarked on a full series of reprints of classic EC titles, starting with new reprints of the Cochran/Gladstone-reprints of The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror and Weird Science (all 1992). Gemstone also republished (in single issue and 'annual' — four issues per 'annual' — format) EC's New Trend and New Direction titles between 1992 and 2000.

In 2005, Gemstone added to Cochran's earlier-published oversize, hardback, black & white slip-cased "The Complete EC Library" collections with the complete Picto-Fiction collection, comprising the EC comics: Confessions Illustrated, Crime Illustrated, Shock Illustrated and Terror Illustrated, along with "18 previously unseen stories, never published before".[36]

In 2006, Gemstone began producing a more durable and luxurious series of hardback reprint collections; the EC Archives — similar to the DC Archives and Marvel Masterworks volumes — which reprint in full-color hardback ('archival') format sequential compilations of the EC titles. Designed by art director/designer Michael Kronenberg, a number of volumes have been released, with the entirety of the New Trend and New Direction planned for eventual release.[37] These EC Archives volumes have drawn praise for their quality, and feature introductions by such notable EC fans as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and Paul Levitz, et al.

Disney comics

Main articles: Disney comics and Carl Barks

In December 2002, it was announced that "Gemstone Publishing had signed the license to publishing Disney comics in North America," with ex-Gladstone Publishing editor-in-chief John Clark joining Gemstone in the same position over its Disney line.[38] Launched with a title for Free Comic Book Day 2003, the line started soon after with Walt Disney's Comics and Stories and Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge, both described by Clark as "monthly 64-page prestige-format books at $6.95, which is the same price they were when last produced, in 1998."[38] Other titles followed, and Gemstone held their license until early 2009.[39]

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide

The (Official) Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, first published by Robert M. Overstreet in 1970 as one of the earliest authorities on American comic book industry grading and collection values. Overstreet sold his company to Gemstone in 1994,[40] but continued to "serve as author and/or publisher of Geppi's Entertainment Publishing & Auctions' line of books."[41] Publication of the Price Guide was taken over by Gemstone in 1998, Gemstone took over publication, and the twenty-eighth edition to the present have been (co-)published by Geppi's Gemstone publications.[42] The Guide's 39th edition was published by Gemstone Publishing in 2009.

Overstreet also produced a variety of smaller publications updating his yearly guides on a monthly schedule. The most recent of these - Overstreet's Comic Price Review - began publication from Gemstone in July 2003, and was a monthly publication designed to update the yearly price guide more regularly, as well as provide articles, analysis and various lists of comics prices.

Gemstone published more than a hundred issues of the magazine Comic Book Marketplace, a monthly magazine for comics fans focusing heavily on the Golden and Silver ages, while more popular magazines (such as Wizard) skew more recent in focus.


In early 2009, the future of Gemstone Publishing was unclear, after reports of unpaid printing bills, particularly from the EC Archives.[43] In April, Geppi responded to the uncertainty, noting that while there had been "a reduction in staff at Gemstone," such moves did "not signal the end of Gemstone Publishing."[44]

In 2008, Diamond introduced ComicSuite, an add-on application for Microsoft Dynamics’ Retail Management System (RMS) software. Together, ComicSuite & RMS give specialty storeowners a point-of-sale (POS) system specifically geared towards their unique business model, offering a host of exclusive features that grant you direct communication with Diamond databases, making it easier than ever before to place orders, track inventory and maintain “pull-and-hold” subscriptions for your customers."

Affiliated and subsidiary companies

In 1995, Geppi founded Diamond International Galleries, which acquired Hake's Americana & Collectibles auction house (2004), and in 2005, Pennsylvania-based Morphy Auctions.[45] In 1999, Geppi founded Diamond Select Toys, and in 2006 he founded Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore.

Diamond Select Toys & Collectibles

Main article: Diamond Select Toys

Envisioned to create collectibles for children and adults, DST was founded in 1999 and has since licensed a variety of pop culture properties, including Marvel Comics, Transformers, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Ghostbusters, Halo, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Indiana Jones, Battlestar Galactica, 24 and Back to the Future. While they also make action figures in a variety of sizes, as well as banks, busts, statues and prop replicas, many of their licensed properties are released in the form of Minimates, which has helped make Minimates one of the most prolific and diverse block figure toy lines in the world. In 2007, after years of partnership, Diamond Select Toys made a move to acquire select assets of New York-based design house Art Asylum,[46] the creators of Minimates, and DST has since developed Minimates based on its own concepts, under the brands Minimates M.A.X. and Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders.

Diamond International Galleries

In 1995, Geppi "opened Diamond International Galleries," a showplace for comics and collectibles, part of Geppi's attempts to "see... collectibles attain serious respect."[45] Nine years later, Diamond International Galleries purchased "one of the country’s first, and most respected, collectibles auction houses: Hake's Americana & Collectibles."[45] In 2005, Geppi added the "Denver, Pennsylvania-based Morphy Auctions" to his growing stable of parts of the collectibles market, which already included publishing the main comics price guide: The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide.[45]

Geppi describes his International Galleries as being "at the heart of many significant opportunities to preserve, promote and present historical comic character collectibles," an endeavor that led to his establishing Geppi's Entertainment Museum.[15] Geppi's galleries showcase much of his private collection, including comics, movie posters, toys, original artwork by individuals including "Carl Barks, Gustav Tengren (sic), Alex Ross, Murphy Anderson, Joe Shuster, Joe Simon and Charles Schulz."[15]

Diamond International Galleries has assisted "in such projects as DC's Archive series," as well as hosting industry events.[15]

Geppi's Entertainment Museum

Geppi's Entertainment Museum is a museum in Baltimore, Maryland, tracing the history of pop culture in American over the last four hundred years. Its collections include newspapers, magazines, comic books, movies, television, radio and video game memorabilia, including comic books, movie posters, toys, buttons, badges, cereal boxes, trading cards, dolls and figurines. The majority of the exhibits come from Geppi's private collection, while Geppi's daughter Melissa "Missy" Geppi-Bowersox became the executive vice-president of the museum in 2007, after Wendy Kelman left the museum on August 31, 2007 to start her own tourism consulting firm.[47] The museum's curator is Dr. Arnold T. Blumberg, former editor at Geppi's Gemstone Publishing.


See also

  • List of book distributors


  • Hoover's profile of Diamond Comic Distributors

External links

  • Archive of Diamond comic book sales charts at The Comics Chronicles
  • "Defending Diamond" - A February 2006 defense of the company (by Julian Darius at Sequart)
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.