January 20th, 2006


[link] essay on comic book distribution monopolies

The Fantagraphics blog points out the latest Tilting at Windmills, which discusses the monopoly-disaster that the comics industry is spiraling into. For those not familiar with the comic publishing world, there is exactly one major distributor (Diamond), which has been slowly squeezing out all the other distributors. Now that it is essentially a monopoly, its service starts to decline, which is actually threatening the comics retailer -- ultimately, the source of Diamond's business! Self-defeating in the usual short-term horizon way. argh.
I have to say that I’m very afraid that the only real solution would be for the Justice Department to reopen their investigation of Diamond (as I understand it, the matter was put into abeyance rather than formally closed), and to break Diamond into two or three competing companies. Otherwise I can’t see how it could even be possible for a new national advance order competitor to get started.

... Heck, checking right now, Diamond doesn’t have a single copy of Maus on hand, in any format. No need to stock the Pulitzer Prize winner, right?

... Diamond has effectively frozen out any chance that any new competitor could enter the market at this stage. Which means that there’s no market forces to encourage Diamond to address their pricing and stocking issues. But if you want to sell comics, you have to deal with Diamond, there’s no way around it.

Seems oddly similar to my experiences with Qwest today -- shoddy website, lousy customer service, but monopoly-driven incentives to the customer to go with their products, even when they're not ideal. Diamond Comics joins Qwest and Microsoft on my list of monopolies to go after when I become Attorney General.
pedant, law and order

[link] L&O, meet L&R

Also from the Fantagraphics blog: Love and Rockets to appear on Law and Order: Criminal Intent
Curiosity of the day: I just signed a release form for Universal to use issues of LOVE & ROCKETS in an upcoming episode of LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. Look for it in episode 15, airing sometime later this season. I sign a lot of these release forms for a variety of movies and television programs, but I'm especially curious to know what the context will be for this one.
I'm curious too!