Comic Shop Owners Leave Diamond Retailer Summit Divide Over Partnership With Marvel

The Diamond Retailer Summit was held last week at C2E2 in Chicago, and this was the first time many retailers were able to voice opinions to the new Editor-In-Chief of Marvel Comics, C.B. Cebulski.

Owning a comic book shop is not easy, and with a giant like Amazon threating to take over the world, you can understand why retailers feel threaten when ComiXology which is owned by Amazon runs a mega sale.

Brian Hibbs, of Comix Experience, wrote an open letter to Marvel Friday expressing his frustration and lack of action by the Disney-owned company on this issue. Michale Savage, of Uncanny Heroes, rebutted Hibbs’ argument with his own open letter directed at Hibbs.

The problem here is the discourse among retailers. Whatever the side of the argument you’re on the retailers are divided, and Marvel will be fine with that. If the retailers were united change could happen, but from the ticky-tack comments on Savage’s Facebook post, it appears retailers are too competitive against each other to look for the greater good.

Both Facebook posts are embedded below so you can look at the comments and join the conversation. Transcripts of each letter follow below. If you are a comic shop owner we would love to hear your thoughts, send an email to Matt Sardo (

Brian Hibbs’ Open Letter

Micahel Savage’s Open Letter

UPDATE: Jen King of Space Cadets Collection Collection posted her thoughts Monday morning as well.

To: John Nee, Publisher, Marvel Comics
CC: David Gabriel, VP of Sales
CC: C.B. Cebulski, Editor-in-Chief

An open letter.

I was extremely disappointed at Marvel comics’ performance at the Diamond summit this week. NOT because of C.B. — he very obviously has a heartfelt passion and concern for the line — but because of the lack of preparation for, and proper response to, retailer’s sincere and existential threat from the now FIFTH week of the wild undercutting on new-this-week book product coming from Amazon. It is utterly unacceptable that Marvel is allowing 96%+-off pricing on a brand-new book like INFINITY SIBLINGS.

C.B. says you’re “trying to get to the bottom of” this, that you are “in talks”. This, to me, is the kind of situation that gets resolved in absolutely no more than 72 hours (and that’s 48 more hours than my heart tells me it really takes) because of the literal harm it is doing to an entire class of customers.

Because after FIVE weeks, five weeks where this has been reported FAR and WIDE, five weeks where that reporting is DRIVING customers to digital at the expense of print, I have decided that as of this FOC, I can no longer order new Marvel graphic novels, and have zeroed out my orders on all book format product published by Marvel at both of my stores. I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS, but the way that Marvel has slow-walked this tells me its the only thing I can do.

There’s still time to change this. Ceasing this program, and coming forward publicly with a full and completely transparent accounting of what happened, and I’ll happily reinstate those orders. Blissfully, even. But my economic power of purchasing, even if it’s only a fraction of Amazon’s, is the only power I have. And there are plenty of other publishers wanting to sell me books that are bending over backwards for me so that I will have no problem filling my racks.

I don’t know everything about what Amazon does and why, but in years of watching them, what C.B. described does not match any known behavior that I have observed, nor what I have been able to discuss with other publishers about the behaviors THEY have observed. C.B.’s picture simply doesn’t make any sense — Amazon does not take that kind of a loss on that kind of scale unless it is being made up in some other consideration from a manufacturer.

I hope this is dealt with both promptly and publicly; I’d like to keep ordering new Marvel book stock.

Thank you for listening,


Brian Hibbs
Head Cheese, Comix Experience and Comix Experience Outpost


An Open Letter to Brian Hibbs:
Cc: Any Retailer willing to calmly listen.
Cc: David C.B. Jen Joe Richard

Dear Brian,

Your letter to Marvel has me somewhat confused. It seems, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you’re placing the .99cent Thanos debacle from last week on them. When This was addressed at the Retailer Summit, C.B. was very open about Marvel being just as blindsided by the sale.

Much like Marvel not having control over many retailers having an “Always 25% off” sales on Trades and Hardcovers (we do this in our shop to stay competitive with Amazon), they have zero control over what ComiXology or Amazon chooses to price books at. This applies to print or digital.

Do you want corporate price controls on our products!? Or just controls on our competitors – but not us? It seems like you’re asking for Marvel to step in and control price which would have to be line wide and equally enforced.

The real issue here is we have new competition with massive presence and a digital footprint the size of a continent, and your trying to think, negotiate, and compete against them with a decade plus old style of thinking. We have to be better and smarter than that.

These publishers – all of them – are in the same business as us, they are our partners. We have to sit and listen with eager ears when they present at summits, yes we have to engage in healthy debate, (healthy the key word), and we also have to show some respect for their decisions. If you don’t like where they’re going then fine – just stop ordering from them.

Your letter could have gone straight to C.B. and David. You could have chosen to wait a week, get curious and ask questions beyond your surface level frustration, and partnered with them towards a solution. Instead you wrote your “open letter” to stir the pot, knowing the answer won’t change if you’re asking the same question from the same reactive frustration.

And Sir, before this seems like I’m in opposition, please know that I know you absolutely have done wonders for retailers and I’ve said this before – I respect you deeply. In this instance this feels like it’s more about YOU and less about truly joining in a solution based discussion.

This kind of stuff alienates publishers and retailers and as a group of business professionals if we are going to grow, and thrive, we all do well to follow Steve Geppi’s advice and stay positive, see what’s possible, and work together to keep our “club houses” full of comics fans.

I’m only 18 years new to this business, and maybe have learned a few things in other businesses, and look, I’m open to being totally wrong on this.

I just see a better way, and it starts not with blame and attempted public hanging, but instead with patience, curiosity, dialogue and partnership.

All the best,

Michael Savage
Founder and co-owner
Uncanny Heroes


Matthew Sardo
Matthew Sardo
As the founder of Monkeys Fighting Robots, I'm currently training for my next job as an astronaut cowboy. Reformed hockey goon, comic book store owner, video store clerk, an extra in 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' 'Welcome Back Freshman,' and for one special day, I was a Ghostbuster.