April 2021 graphic novel picks and news

Here’s a look at what graphic novels of interest are coming out for April 2021.

(Disclosure: The blog is an affiliate of Bookshop.org, and will earn a commission for purchases made through Bookshop links.)

Boom! Studios

A full list of solicitations is available here.

  • Wynd Book One: Flight of the Prince, on sale May 2021, $15 (Amazon, Bookshop)

DC Comics

A full list of solicitations is available here.

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Wynd vol. 1
“Wynd,” vol. 1. Art by Michael Dialynas. (Boom! Studios)

“Wynd” is a comic series by James Tynion IV (of “The Backstagers”) and Michael Dialynas, about a young man coming of age in a fantasy world setting.

DC’s reprinting the six-issue “Krypto the Superdog” miniseries, which came out in the mid-aughts during the TV cartoon’s run. Presumably it’s being re-released for the upcoming “Super Pets” movie, due in theaters next year.

I know superhero comics, like soap operas, often have plot points stretching back years, or even decades. Still, it seemed odd to see in Marvel’s solicitations for “Amazing Spider-Man”: “The Tombstone/Robbie Robertson beef has been brewing since 1988 and is back, big time!”

That’s quite awhile ago… 1988 saw the end of the Reagan administration, the original “DuckTales” as the hot new TV cartoon, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” hitting movie theaters, and DC Comics celebrating Superman’s 50th anniversary. It’s also likely before much of Marvel’s current readership was even born. Still, it’s a revived beef from the decade of “Where’s the Beef?

Speaking of Marvel…

Marvel to drop Diamond and move to Penguin Random House for direct market comics

Photo by Erik Mclean / Unsplash

On Thursday, big news broke in the direct market world. Marvel’s announced it’s moving its direct market single-issue comic and graphic novel distribution from Diamond to publishing giant Penguin Random House. While Diamond’s still free to distribute Marvel comics to shops as a wholesaler, Marvel’s main distributor will be PRH. The new distribution deal starts with October’s releases. Marvel’s current book channel distributor, Hachette, will still distribute graphic novels/trade paperbacks to bookstores.

This is very big news for the direct market. Diamond’s decades-long, near-monopoly was already broken last year, when DC left for its own third party distributor. Now, Diamond’s losing Marvel, too. The “Big Two” made up a little over two-thirds of Diamond’s business (based on 2019 sales) before the pandemic/DC’s exit. While Diamond still has Image, Archie, IDW, etc., this shift will require them to change their business practices and be more competitive to avoid seeing those publishers jump ship, too. That said, given the history of the direct market and Diamond, justified speculation’s already going on about how much longer Diamond will last. I’d say checking back a year from this October will be interesting.

As for what Marvel’s getting out of this deal? For starters, their comic shop distribution handled by a bigger and more stable book publisher. While Penguin Random House going into comic periodicals is new, I imagine they can’t possibly do a worse job than Diamond. That said, as of this writing I haven’t heard whether or not the floppies PRH distributes will be returnable. Other advantages include that PRH offers free freight, including for reorders, unlike Diamond. While PRH offers a slightly smaller discount on retailer orders versus Diamond, they also don’t charge a restocking fee.

As for Penguin Random House, they’re likely looking to expand into new areas, and that includes comics. They already have a graphic novel division, so handling those won’t be anything new. The one downside is that it’s an already-gigantic book publisher getting even bigger, with no plans on slowing down. They’re planning to buy Simon & Schuster, which would reduce the number of major US book publishers from five to four. There’s also comic shop owners’ adjustment to adding a third distributor to order from (alongside Lunar and Diamond). However, given the alternative (sticking with Diamond as a middleman for Marvel), I suspect any reluctant comic shop owners will get over it.

Image from “Wynd,” vol. 1. Art by Michael Dialynas. (Boom! Studios)

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