Thursday Comics Hangover: Snow day

Not everyone realizes this, but every single comics store in the United States uses the exact same distributor: Diamond Comics Distributors. The collected graphic novels can be purchased directly through the publishers or through book distributors, but if you want to sell the staple-bound monthly so-called "floppies," you have to go through Diamond. There is no alternative. Diamond's last competitor, a distributor called Heroes World, was bought by Marvel Comics and then collapsed in the mid-1990s.

I bring this up because while Seattle is wet and relatively warm this week, we are surrounded on all sides by a horrifying snowscape. And the Diamond truck — the truck that carries every single comic headed to Seattle this week — can't get through the Pass. This means that no comic book store in Seattle had new comics yesterday.

It's really kind of batshit, if you think about it for a moment. If Diamond were to unexpectedly go out of business tomorrow, every comic book store in the country would be strangled for product. Dozens of shops would likely collapse within days, if not weeks, of Diamond's hypothetical closure.

Happily, while Diamond holds a monopoly on monthly comics distribution, they're not the only way for customers to get comics anymore. You can download them on your digital devices — although Comixology, the industry leader for digital comics, was bought by Amazon a while back, so you're basically trading one monopoly for another — and you can buy collected editions at your local independent bookstore. But it is very uncomfortable that all these hardworking small business owners in Seattle, many of whom have been in business for years, are reliant on one single truck making its way across a snowy mountain pass. There has to be a better model than this, is what I'm saying.

UPDATE 1/19/2017 at 1:14 pm: On Facebook, Short Run offers a terrific suggestion for a substitution for your weekly comics:

Visit Fantagraphics Bookstore and Gallery, Phoenix Comics and Games, Zanadu Comics, Elliott Bay Book Company, Left Bank Books Collective, and check out their LOCAL section.