Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

October 5, 2011

Johanna Draper Carlson: Looks Like Haven Is Shutting Down

Johanna Draper Carlson makes a nice catch on tweets that indicate Haven Distributors will shutter at the end of the month. Haven is the business to which the popular, indies- and reorder-focused Cold Cut sold itself in 2008. It operates out of Skokie, Illinois, several miles due west from Chicago/Evanston.

I appreciate the fact that Draper Carlson included a brief history of modern comics distribution companies in her introductory remarks, and it's really valuable in tracking the life span of Cold Cut and FMI. I would actually disagree with her description of how we got to where we are a bit, although it's more a set of advocacy positions than fact checking. I think it's always worth a reminder that DC's deal with Diamond wasn't just an exclusive but "exclusive with benefits," including DC's potential ownership of Diamond down the line. DC and Diamond keeping this hidden from everyone as other companies struggled to figure out what to do was a big news story when it finally broke in The Comics Journal, and, depressingly, the base chicanery ended up mattering not a bit. I would also say that it's always worth mentioning that the shape of the coffin nail that gave us the Diamond-as-one-distributor-of-any-significant-size market had the faces of Todd McFarlane and the Image gang on the head instead of Team DC. Their decision to join DC rather than stay non-exclusive or to throw their full, have-to-order-Spawn weight behind Capital City was the crucial action there. (All good people everywhere agree that Marvel was a dumbass for buying Heroes World and expecting to distribute themselves, including all of those people at Marvel that told their superiors a don't-fire-me version of just that and were ignored.)

Anyway, the end result of this 1990s self-immolation contest was a market that was really hard if not outright impossible for any other middle man to serve, and one that slowly calcified to even more significant effect over the next 15 years. And so we come to today. My sympathies are with anyone put out of work by these developments. I guess this leaves Last Gasp, Tony Shenton and a couple of the more active, comics-savvy book distributors as the non-Diamond representatives in that market -- not an ideal one for the consumer by anyone's design.
posted 11:45 am PST | Permalink

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