20 September 2009

A Wednesday of No Comics This December

It hasn't happened since 1998. Long enough ago, in fact, that most comics retailers and even more comic book fans have forgotten it ever did. To what I am I referring?
This December, for the first time in eleven years, a Wednesday will arrive and bring with it not a single new issue.
While some may see the Grinch's handiwork in this case of the missing Christmas comics, Diamond Comics Distributors, the industry’s leading distributor of the vast majority of comics periodicals to comic book stores and publisher of Previews Magazine, announced back on August 18th that December's Wednesday Without Comics is actually due to UPS pick-up and delivery schedules, and the odd way those schedules will conflict with the Season's biggest holidays.
Diamond's Official Press Release is as follows:
In consideration of UPS’ holiday delivery schedule, and in consultation with retailers and publishers, Diamond will not be shipping product to customers the week of December 28.
Most of our customers receive their shipments via 1-Day, 2-Day, or 3-Day UPS, with 3-Day shipments tendered to UPS on Friday,” explained Diamond Vice President of Operations Cindy Fournier. “With Christmas and New Year’s falling on Friday this year, we would not be able to tender product for 3-Day retailers until Monday, December 28. But because there will be no UPS service on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day, product which could reach 1-Day and 2-Day retailers on December 30, would not reach our 3-Day UPS customers until January 4. In light of this, and based on conversations with our customers and suppliers, we agreed that a skip week was the fairest, most prudent way to proceed.
While their decision makes sense, I've no doubt that Diamond was also influenced by the fallout they endured following a similar shipping disparity about two years ago. The distributor received some very vocal criticism and just a little bad press when many West Coast comics retailers, including my longtime retailer and San Francisco home-away-from home, Comix Experience, were either shorted product or didn't receive whole shipments they were due. Comics retailers East of the Mississippi, however, saw no such trouble.
The resulting lack of available stock kept many store's shelves bare, and many comic shop regulars ran the risk of missing popular titles completely. Personally, I don't recall being a victim of that mess, but if memory serves me correctly, I escaped harm due to the fact that my comics had been reserved far in advance and recorded on my Pull List.
I also remember that this event turned out to be a large and ultimately successful rallying cry for the then newly-established non-profit comics retailers organization, ComicsPRO. Brian Hibbs, the owner of Comix Experience and a founding member of ComicsPRO who also served as its first Vice President, is a force to be reckoned with. If you weren't aware, Hibbs won a several year long legal battle and class-action lawsuit against Marvel Comics for their own shipping and return policies, which while in Marvel's best interest, often conflicted with the best interest and financial security of the same retailers Marvel relied upon to sell their wares. Indeed, situations like that, where a collective voice in the comics industry was needed so that the small retailer might be heard, directly lead to ComicsPRO's founding.
I'll be blogging more about ComicsPRO, Brian Hibbs, and the San Francisco comics scene in future posts. For now, the take home point is this: don't plan on seeing any new comics come Wednesday, December 30th, 2009.
While that may sound like bad news for us comic readers, Diamond Distributors and the Direct Market have worked with publishers to reschedule December 30th books to arrive instead on December 23rd or the Wednesday following New Year's, January 6th, 2010. (The DM rocks, folks!)
Moreover, given that December happens to be a five-Wednesday month this year, the four remaining Wednesday's in December will look no different from a shipping standpoint than any of the other four-week months of 2009.
To make the Wednesday of No Comics even more special, many comics shops around the country are brainstorming, if not already planned, special in-store events to commemorate the day and create even more reason to bring trusty fanboys and fangirls by the store on a traditionally slow week.
I'm not aware of any special goings-on yet at the stores I know and love, but if I hear of anything, I'll be sure to post it on abbracadabbling. If you know of a special event in your area, be sure to support 'em and be to clue abbracadabbling in on the planned festivities. Your Back Issue commentary, news, and views are always welcome.
Until then, December 2009 solicitations are just starting to hit the internet, and Newsarama.com's posting early results here. Full December solicits, beginning with DC Comics, will be available after 2:00pm Pacific time at the same location.
And don't forget to snag a closer look at your month of December, which we've made especially just for you below.
Next up: Comics - The Perfect Treats for Halloween!

No comments: