Diamond Comic Halts Payments; More Comic Book Shops Permanently Closing

The state of the #ComicBook industry continues to worsen as more comic book shops permanently close and primary comic book distributor “#DiamondComic Distributors” halts payments to publishers and other vendors due to severe cash flow problems.

In a letter released to the public by Stan Heidman, president of Geppi Family Enterprises (the parent company of Diamond Comic Distributors), Diamond said the move is in response to the impact of the #COVID19 pandemic on the supply chain. He said,

“While the full impact of this epidemic is still unknown, one thing is certain: supply chain disruptions have cash flow implications across the extended industry that can’t be underestimated. While we work to understand the current industry landscape, the unfortunate truth is that we are no longer receiving consistent payments from our customers. This requires that at this time, we hold payments to vendors previously scheduled to release this week.”

A network of about 2,000 independent comic book shops that buy their stock from Diamond Comic nonreturnable at wholesale prices. Diamond Comic Distributors delivers comics periodicals (mostly superhero), graphic novels, prose books, and pop culture merchandise, to these stores. Last week as comics shops around the country were forced to either shut down completely or restrict admittance to their shops due to the pandemic, Diamond announced it was halting shipments of new weekly comics to comics shops indefinitely.

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Diamond Comic Distributors is having cash flow problems for one simple reason: comic book shops aren’t open in most of the U.S. and some are more are starting to permanently close. Three more comic book shops reported that they are permanently closing in the past week:

Sho’Nuff Comics of Tuscaloosa, Alabama Closing

The store released the following statement on Facebook on Mar. 24:

“This is something that we never thought we would have to be writing. After March 31st Sho’Nuff Comics will no longer be in business. Through the month of April we will have sporadic hours, but will keep them updated on Facebook. Due to many different factors and the current health crisis, it’s all but done us in.”

Blue Moon Comics of San Rafael, California on Verge of Closing

The store released the following statement on Facebook on Mar. 20:

“Just wanted to inform you of our status. We have stopped all comic shipments at this time. So, no new comics for the next month or so. Stephen and I are accessing the viability of keeping the business going. As you know, business has not been good for quite some time and this may be fate’s way of saying it is time to stop. When we know you will know. Thank you all for your support over the years. We do this for you, the comic fans and the love of the medium!! Please be safe and lets all hope for good things to come after this trying time is over.”

Purple Turtle Comics of Vallejo, California Closed

After opening only a year ago, after opening only a year ago, the popular store that ran signings with well know comic book creators, the Diamond shutdown was too much, it seems; and the store has closed permanently.

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Comic Book Shops in Serious Trouble

Over the past few years, the #ComicBook industry, and comic book shops in particular, have not been doing well. Sales of newer comic books have been dropping and many comic book shops have already permanently closed. Given the shaky ground that comic book shops have been on for some time, new pressures are imperiling them even further:

  1. Due to the current #pandemic, many comic books have been forced to temporarily close in areas where governments have implemented “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at-home” orders for the general public in which only critical stores can remain open and the employees who work for the critical stores and institutions can continue to go to work under these conditions. Comic book shops are classified as being “non-essential”.
  2. #DiamondComic Distributors, the exclusive distributor for new releases from all of the comics’ direct market’s biggest publishers (including #DCComics, #MarvelComics, #DarkHorse Comics, #ImageComics, Dynamite Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, and IDW Publishing, as well as many small publishers), is no longer taking in new comics at its warehouse. The hold (the result of a slowdown in the economy due to the #COVID19 pandemic) will remain in place until further notice. Diamond will continue to ship out products that are already in its warehouse for the time being.
  3. Comic book producers don’t generally offer comic book shops the ability to return unsold inventory for refunds. This means that comic book shops that can’t sell any products are also stuck with inventory that they can’t return. Image Comics did, however, step up and change its policy so that comic book shop owners can return unsold products.
  4. Leading comic book retailer Joe Field of Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California, has called on comic book publishers to suspend publication and not replace print distribution with spotty distribution to stores still open or doing mail-order, or switch to digital publication.
  5. Transcontinental Printing, the main Canadian printer of DC Comics, and countless other publishers, is shutting down for three weeks. The Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario are also closing all non-essential businesses until at least mid-April.

In an email sent to his customer base, Ed Greenberg (the owner of Collector’s Paradise in Los Angeles, CA), wrote the following:

“We have been selling comics for close to 26 years now, and this is truly the first time that we are uncertain about the future of our store, our industry and our favorite art form.”

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“Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker” Did Finally Reach $1 Billion, But Has Fallen Behind “Rogue One” Domestically

On Jan 15, 2020, “#StarWars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker” did finally reach $1 billion in gross box office revenue worldwide. This occurred 26 days after the film opened in theaters, which was 9 days longer than it took “Star Wars VIII: #TheLastJedi” and 14 days longer than “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens”.

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But, on that exact same day “The Rise of Skywalker” reached $1 billion worldwide, the film’s domestic cumulative gross box office revenue also slid below the cumulative domestic gross box office earnings that “#RogueOne: A Star Wars Story” had earned in 2016 after the same number of days in theaters. And, since then, “The Rise of Skywalker” has remained below “Rogue One” in terms of cumulative domestic gross box office.

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Thus, the earnings for “The Rise of Skywalker” continue to drop at a rate faster than what “Rogue One” experienced in 2016, and we suspected that the film may not earn as much as “Rogue One” after viewing last week’s box office numbers when “The Rise of Skywalker” was barely doing better than “Rogue One”.

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RIP Christopher Tolkien

#RIP: author & illustrator Christopher John Reuel Tolkien has passed away at the age 95. Born on Nov. 21, 1924, he was the third & youngest son of the author J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), as well as the editor of much of his father’s posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father’s #TheLordOfTheRings books, which he signed as C.J.R.T.

From a child, Christopher Tolkien had long been part of the critical audience for his father’s fiction, such as listening to his father’s tales of Bilbo Baggins, which were published as #TheHobbit. As a teenager and young adult, he offered a lot of feedback on “The Lord of the Rings” during its 15-year development. He also had the task of interpreting his father’s sometimes self-contradictory maps of Middle-earth in order to produce the versions that were used in the books. He re-drew the main map in the late 1970’s to clarify the lettering and correct some errors and omissions.

J.R.R. Tolkien had written a large amount of material connected to the Middle-earth legendarium that was not published during his lifetime. He had originally intended to publish #TheSilmarillion along with “The Lord of the Rings”, and parts of it were in a finished state when he died in 1973; but the project was incomplete.

Once referring to his son Christopher as his “chief critic and collaborator”, J.R.R. Tolkien had named Christopher his literary executor in his will. With this authority, Christopher organized the masses of his father’s unpublished writings, some of which had been written on odd scraps of paper a half-century earlier. Much of the material was handwritten. Complicating matters, his father would sometimes write a newer draft over a half-erased first draft. Also, it was not uncommon for the names of characters routinely changing between the beginning and ending of the same draft.

Christopher worked on the manuscripts and was able to produce an edition of “The Silmarillion” for publication in 1977. His assistant for part of the work was Guy Gavriel Kay, who became a noted fantasy author himself.

“The Silmarillion” was followed by “Unfinished Tales” in 1980 and “The History of Middle-earth” in 12 volumes between 1983 and 1996. Most of the original source-texts have been made public from which “The Silmarillion” was constructed.

In April 2007, Christopher Tolkien published “The Children of Húrin”, whose story his father had brought to a relatively complete stage between 1951 and 1957 before abandoning it. This was one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s earliest stories. Its first version dated back to 1918, and several versions were published in “The Silmarillion”, “Unfinished Tales”, and “The History of Middle-earth”.

“The Children of Húrin” is a synthesis of these and other sources. “Beren and Lúthien” is an editorial work and was published as a stand-alone book in 2017. The next year, “The Fall of Gondolin” was published also as an editorial work. “The Children of Húrin”, “Beren and Lúthien”, and “The Fall of Gondolin” make up the three “Great Tales” of the Elder Days, which J.R.R. Tolkien considered to be the biggest stories of the First Age.

Christopher served as chairman of the Tolkien Estate, Ltd., which was the entity formed to handle the business side of his father’s literary legacy. He also served as a trustee of the Tolkien Charitable Trust until his retirement in 2018.

In 2001, Christopher expressed doubts over “The Lord of the Rings” film trilogy that was directed by Peter Jackson. He questioned the viability of a film interpretation that retained the essence of the work, but stressed that this was just his opinion. In 2008, he commenced legal proceedings against New Line Cinema, which he claimed owed his family £80 million in unpaid royalties. In September, 2009, he and New Line reached an undisclosed settlement. He also withdrew his legal objection to “The Hobbit” films. But, in a 2012 interview with “Le Monde”, he criticised the films saying, “They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.”

Our condolences to Christopher’s family, friends and fans. May he rest in peace.

Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (1924 – 2020)

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“Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker” Box Office Plummets over 90%, Worst Drop of the Disney Sequels

While the box office for “#StarWars IX: #TheRiseOfSkywalker” was the highest during first 3 weekends, that is no longer the case with the opening of the war drama #1917 in wide release.  The film’s 4th weekend earnings were only $15.1 million domestic, which, when compared with the film’s opening weekend, is a 91.5% drop in box office earnings. This is the biggest 4th weekend drop of all of the #Disney “Star Wars” sequel trilogy films, and the film also had the largest 3rd weekend drop of the three.

In terms of overall box office performance, “The Rise of Skywalker” has broken the long-standing tradition of the 3rd film in a trilogy outperforming the 2nd film in the trilogy. (The 3rd films in the original and prequel trilogies that were produced by George Lucas both outperformed their respective 2nd trilogy films.)

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Comparing the gross box office receipts for each of the Disney “Star Wars” sequel films, the following patterns emerge.

  • The opening weekends for each film were progressively worse, which is not consistent with how well the 3rd films performed during the original or prequel trilogies.
  • With the exception of the 2nd weekend, “The Rise of Skywalker” earned less than its sequel trilogy predecessors for each subsequent weekend.
  • “The Rise of Skywalker” has seen more than a 50% drop in gross weekend box office receipts between all subsequent weekends. “Star Wars VII: #TheForceAwakens” did not experience a weekend-to-weekend drop in box office of more than 50% until its 4th weekend.
  • With the exception of the 2nd weekend, “The Rise of Skywalker” has experienced the largest percentage drops in box office receipts when compared with opening weekend.
  • “The Rise of Skywalker” is the first of the three films to reach a more than 90% drop in overall box office receipts when compared with opening weekend. It was also the first to experience a more than 80% drop during its 3rd weekend. In comparison, “The Force Awakens” and “Star Wars VIII: #TheLastJedi” didn’t experience an 80% drop in overall box office receipts until their 4th weekends.

When looking at worldwide gross box office earnings, “The Rise of Skywalker” still hasn’t reached the $1 billion dollar mark:

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If we compare the current earnings of “The Rise of Skywalker” with those of the Disney sequel trilogy and “#RogueOne: A Star Wars Story”, we’ll see that the current earnings of “The Rise of Skywalker” are almost the same for what they were for “Rogue One”, so it’s entirely possible that (from the graph below) “The Rise of Skywalker” may not earn as much as “Rogue One” or it may only earn slightly over the overall earnings of “Rogue One”. With more films being released in theaters in the coming weeks, “The Rise of Skywalker” will have more competition, which will take more earnings away from it.

"Star Wars" Earnings Graph

Earnings of “Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens”, “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi”, “Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker” & “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”.

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