Tuesday, January 20, 2009
This is an overdue note, but a bit of comics circulation history came to a close with the publication of the December 2008 Diamond Dialogue retailer magazine. It was the second retailer magazine of any staying power — after Capital's Internal Correspondence — and it was the last monthly left after the folding of Comics & Games Retailer at the end of 2007.
"It is with a touch of sadness that I announce that this will be the last print edition of this monthly magazine," Steve Geppi said in the magazine's editorial. "After almost 17 years and hundreds of issues, the publication is closing up shop. However, this is not 'curtains' for Dialgoue, because the same great content will be available online at Diamond Daily. In this age of the Internet, we feel that key product and sales information will make a bigger impact if it's delivered sooner to retailers, allowing them to make more intelligent ordering decisions as quickly as possible.
"But that's not the end of Diamond Dialogue: Once a year, we plan to produce a printed Dialogue Annual, starting with our first edition in February 2009. Therefore, this is not the end, but a new beginning for Diamond Dialogue."
I regret not getting a piece on this online before, because it is, again, a major piece of comics circulation history. The so-called "Top 300 lists" found on this site and on the Web began their lives there — actually, in Diamond's case, a Top 100 list. Dialogue in its current incarnation began with #1 in January 1992, itself a two-color supplement to the relaunched Previews, which started with Vol. 2 #1 that month. An earlier Dialogue magazine had been produced using the numbering of the earlier previews volume; I have one of the 1991 issues but don't know how far back it was published.
Dialogue was helpful for many years in that regard — while it was also considered a serious competitor by Comics Retailer for ad dollars in the 1990s, it was also the source of much information. The recent change in Top Seller reporting, I would suspect, was motivated by this change; it is more information, and not less. I will miss looking at the new issues, but the old ones continue to yield useful historical information.
Dialogue performed its main role, as a promotional vehicle for the distributor's products, perhaps more consistently than its competitors. Internal Correspondence, while doing a lot of the same things, included several commentaries stepping outside of that role — particularly, in Milton Griepp's closing columns, some of which warned of the 1993 crash. And in the most extreme example, it was distributor Walter Wang's 1994 commentary criticizing Marvel in the newsletter for his Comics Unlimited distributorship that resulted in Marvel withdrawing its business from his firm. (Diamond later bought the operation, which had been hobbled by the lack of its largest supplier. The event was a harbinger of Marvel's purchase of its own distribution firm, later in the year.) Dialogue, by contrast, almost always remained on-message — while serving up many features about store promotions, interviews with retailers, and a number of pictorial interviews with "Star Collectors."
That was the last monthly, but retailer magazines continue in Diamond's annual, and in the ICV2 Guides. Previews is, in a sense, still a retailer magazine, too.