Comic books have grown from what adults once thought of as "kids' stuff" into a full-fledged entertainment medium attracting readers of all ages and generating hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Retail shops selling comics sold over 100 million books and graphic novels in 2006 worth approximately $385 million at retail, this in an increase of approximately 18+% over 2005.
Diamond Comic Distributors is celebrating 25 years of delivering millions of comic books, graphic novels (book-length comics), toys, games, collectibles and other entertainment products around the globe.
"All of us at Diamond are proud to have played a significant role in the evolution of the comic book industry over the last quarter-century," said Diamond Founder, President & CEO Steve Geppi.
“We've helped to transform the public's indifference to comic books and graphic novels into serious acceptance of them as vehicles for literature, education and entertainment. It's been an extraordinary journey for us, particularly when you consider our modest beginnings."
Founded in 1982 by Geppi, a postal worker-turned-comic retailer, Diamond initially serviced just 17 comic retailers. Today, Diamond's monthly catalog, Previews, offers approximately 4,000 specialty retailers and 65,000 consumers worldwide. The publication offers a huge variety of comic books and graphic novels from Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics and many other world-famous publishers.
Diamond also handles other comic- and pop culture-related product lines, including books, toys, games, DVDs, apparel, collectibles and much more.
In addition to helping comic and pop culture specialty retailers thrive over the last quarter-century, Diamond has worked to expand awareness of, and appreciation for, the medium.
- The company administers Free Comic Book Day, an annual event held in comic shops the first Saturday each May. The event, during which thousands of participating retailers distribute millions of comics to anyone visiting their store, generates extensive international media attention and entices multitudes of new readers to check out what the medium has to offer.
- Diamond administers the Comic Shop Locator Service, a tool that helps anyone in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Ireland find a comic shop in their area just via a toll-free phone number (888-COMIC-BOOK) or the Service's website (www.comicshoplocator.com). Now entering its 11th year, the toll-free number has given out more than a million referrals to approximately 600,000 prospective comic readers, while the website component has directed countless consumers to comic shops.
- Through the Maryland Comic Book Initiative (MCBI), a partnership between the company and The Maryland State Department of Education a new generation of readers is being encouraged. With the cooperation of members from local school systems, higher education, adult and corrections education, and libraries, the program’s goal is to develop ways to utilize graphic literature in elementary, secondary, adult, and corrections education.
"Nothing's more exciting to a lifelong comic fan like me than sharing my passion for comics with others," said Geppi. "Every time someone is introduced to reading through the MCBI, or finds their local comic shop through a reference from the Comic Shop Locator Service in time to enjoy Free Comic Book Day, it makes me feel great to know that Diamond was instrumental in their discovery of comics."
Diamond's commitment to growing the audience for comics through such programs, and to helping retailers meet the demands of that audience, have earned it a place in the comic industry. Diamond and its founder have also earned recognition beyond its core industry in the form of many local, national and international honors. Among them: an Entrepreneur of the Year for Maryland Award for Geppi; and an International Achievement Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce for Diamond.
What is important to remember is the Geppi started out as a reader, became a hobbyist and now is an industry leader.