Peter Simeti launches “Alterna Distribution”
During a Thursday livestream, Alterna Comics founder Peter Simeti announced that he has indeed launched “Alterna Distribution,” an all-new way for independent creators to get their comics into comic book shops.
So far, Alterna Distribution exists only as a web domain, but Simeti is planning for the venture to be fully operational in mid-2020. It’s important to note that this is not a publishing label. Creators who distribute through Alterna will not have to do so under the Alterna Comics brand, nor will they be limited to distributing comics or graphic novels alone. Simeti hopes that independent creators will choose to distribute all types of products through Alterna, such as movies, video games, toys, etc.
Isn’t there already a way for local stores to order comics? Yes. At the moment, comic book distribution is exclusively controlled by the Maryland-based Diamond Comic Distributors. All of the major comic book labels and virtually all independent comic publishers must submit their products through Diamond before they can be shipped to local comic retailer.
Sounds like a monopoly, right? You’re not the first to think so. However, since comics are legally considered to be periodicals (like magazines), challenges to Diamond’s hegemony over the comic book industry have fallen flat. While Diamond has a firm grip on the comic book side of periodical distribution, there are other distributors who offer “competition” by distributing Sports Illustrated and Good Housekeeping. Get it? Yeah.
It seems as though Simeti himself has “had all he can stand, and can’t stand no more” from Diamond. According to Simeti, Diamond Comics Distributors has been up to 3 months late in sending payments to Alterna Comics on multiple occasions over the past year. Diamond’s warehouses have also made errors in accepting book shipments from Alterna, including refusing a damaged pallet of books in its entirety despite only part of the shipment being damaged in transit, which has caused Alterna books to deliver to comic shops several weeks late. Diamond even “lost” a shipment in May because they didn’t check it in properly, which also caused a two-week delay.
Even with all of these issues with Diamond, Simeti had planned to launch his own comic distribution arm much farther down the road. However, the straw that broke Simeti’s back appears to be an email exchange with Diamond, wherein Simeti asked when Alterna Comics could get a dedicated brand manager at Diamond to help iron out issues before they exacerbated. According to Simeti, Diamond’s response was essentially that Alterna should not expect to have a dedicated brand manager- ever. After that, Simeti decided that there was no time like the present to get his own distribution venture up and running.
Other than trying to outdo Diamond’s incredible level of customer service, how else will Alterna Distribution compete? For one, Simeti indicated that Alterna would provide free information to creators regarding which shops are ordering which product (for the purpose of promotion).
Simeti appeared confident that at least some of the creators who use Alterna’s printing partnership program will opt to distribute through Alterna Distribution, and he also hopes to attract some of the independent creators who have recently found success by crowdfunding projects through sites like Indiegogo, citing Clint Stoker‘s Downcast as an example.
You can watch Simeti’s full remarks below:
What do you think? Is this an exciting development, or do comic industry business dealings bore the piss out if you? Let us know in the comments!