Amidst a generally jaunty mood over continued strong sales, Diamond Comic Distributors held its retailer appreciation breakfast to kick off New York Comic Con. The biggest announcement was the addition of three publishers to its "final order cut-off" program, Dynamite Entertainment, Boom! Studios and Valiant. The FOC program allows retailers to adjust their comics periodical orders closer to ship date, giving them more flexibility to react to market changes.
It was a strong vote of confidence for mid-level publishers who are offering titles with growing interest, such as Boom's Adventure Time comic and Dynamite's just announced projects by popular writers Garth Ennis, Mark Waid and Andy Diggle. It's also an incentive for publishers to hit shipping dates more, noted Diamond v-p of purchasing Bill Schanes who said that several more publishers will be added to the program in the coming months.
At the breakfast, Schanes reported Diamond's sales are up for the year across the board. Comics sales are up 19.9%, graphic novels sales are up 16.9% and games and merchandise have also shown double digit gains.
"The strong sales are really because there is so much strong product now," Schanes told PW. He also said that's Diamond's customer count of comics specialty stores grew by 1%—a small number, but "at last it's not shrinking," he said. Schanes expects the number of stores to grow more significantly as programs developed to help new stores acquire their opening stock fall into place.
Marvel, Dark Horse and DC all made presentations during the breakfast. Marvel teased its new Superior Spider-Man title, and announced several new entries in their Season One line of introductory graphic novels, spotlighting Thor, Iron Man and Wolverine. In addition, Diamond will start carrying the Disney line of magazines for younger readers.
Dark Horse announced several promotions for their ongoing Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise, and a new comic entitled simply Star Wars which will start with issue #1 next year, as well as a quirky relaunch of some of their long-dormant superhero characters, called Catalyst.
DC continues to enjoy the success of its New 52 line, and announced that a series of die-cut covers for its Batman line of comics had been a big hit with fans.