Barry Lawford the Clown Prince Of Retail / Shitehawk, More Like

Barry Lawford

Hey kids.

Ok. Sit down and shut the hell up.

(Takes cigar out of mouth)

So. Long story short (and this is just between me and you right – so don’t go blabbing your mouth all over town…):

Despite the pound stablising (thank you Brexit), Diamond (as in: Diamond Comic Distributors, Inc. is the last remaining comic book distributor serving retailers in North America and worldwide, since the end of the comic book distributor wars in the 1990s.) refuse to shift the 20% price hike they stuck on us after the crash of the pound.

So yeah: basically – go buy your standing order.

Marvel & DC books are dying on their arse all over the place, Nighthawk didn’t fail for any other reason except Marvel are putting out too many comics and it got lost in the shuffle.

So yeah. There you go.

Them’s the breaks.

Is there anything you can do to help?

Well: go buy your standing order. But apart from that – afraid not kids. All we can hope for is (oh please dear God) that Diamond will realise that if they put shops out business then – well – they’re going to lose out on a whole lot of income. Because well yeah – the difference needed would be people coming in and setting up standing orders for a whole lot of filthly moolah.

But yeah – as for Shitehawk – Marvel’s solicits are awful, they don’t provide enough information for us to know what we’re getting and we all decided, well, fuck them then. Image can tell us what a book is going to look like, when it’s coming out, show us interior pages and variants and bish bash bosh: Every single other publisher in Previews does a better job of selling comics to RETAILERS than Marvel. Much like their social media, in fact. Go buy your standing order.

The Diamond Warehouse as overseen by Steve Geppi, yesterday
The Diamond Warehouse as overseen by Steve Geppi yesterday

Marvel give us one image and a bunch of snark, so fuck them, their comics don’t sell well enough to justify the bullshit they put us through anymore. There are better comics and better companies who pay off for their ordering.

Just between us friends: the truth is – working on Marvel Previews must be one of the easiest gigs in comics. All you’ve got to do is: find a bit of production art, slap in a couple of snarky lines and weasel word laden promises and then promise a special variant. Done. It’s become completely obvious that the solicitations are merely done to cover as much of the non-returnable clause as possible, without any attempt to entice new readers, but more to bait the fans they think don’t have the self-control to just drop their books dead. Too many deaths, too many resurrections, too many events and too many price rises have meant that this is no longer true. Marvel’s sales have fallen to the point where two issues of Civil War 2 shipping in one month can’t match the numbers on Amazing Spider-Man 1 (Er, you know – the one before the last one, I mean.).

Sadly since Marvel chooses to lead with their big events, the Civil Wars and Dead No Mores soak up most of the Marvel allocated income per shop, which diminishes each month. Since other, more esoteric books such as Nighthawk are buried in pages long after the money for Marvel has gone, and we have enough to do without spending the time being patronised by The House Of Ideas for longer than we need to many books are overlooked. There are obviously far too many comics being published and while we would love to have an eye on everything out there – that simply isn’t possible. This is why shops give you copies of Previews long before the cut-off date, so you can tell your Good Old Local Comic Shop to order in books you want to read.

Did I say go buy your standing order already?

It’s far from a perfect system, but we didn’t define the prices of comics, how much is offered by the publishers or the firm sale system. If customers told us what they wanted, if publishers put more focus on selling us books like Nighthawk, since a Civil War will sell itself, then there’s more likelihood that your favourite title will survive.

As it stands, any retailer with a brain in the UK is looking to cut their Diamond order down as much as possible since the Brexit (say it again: thanks Brexit) imposed price hike, and anything that isn’t a firm sale title probably won’t be ordered. Nighthawk wasn’t the victim of a conspiracy, but rather the first victim of a syndrome I suspect will be become widespread as the months and years go by.

So yeah – hold on to your butts.

Should it be your job to promote your favourite comic to your retailer? No. But nor should any comic cost $6 and be non-returnable. It’s not a perfect system by any means, but the reality underneath all the ‘shoulds’ is. you want your favourite comic to survive, you have to pre-order it and perhaps get more copies to give to your friends. No comic is safe from the chopping block anymore because every single unsold comic is one more nail in the coffin of your favourite retailer.

But hey – to be completely honest Nighthawk could have been Daredevil or Inhumans or X-Men it’s just you know – whatever – happenstance or whatever you want to call it.

But you didn’t hear all this from me? Ok?


(Puts cigar back in mouth).

If you’re not looking to buy anything – then scram.

And don’t forget to go buy your standing order.



Dumb kids.

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