Back when Disney bought out Marvel Comics, here at downthetubes we speculated Panini, which reprints Marvel titles across Europe, may find their titles under threat.
Now, news site Bleeding Cool reports that as Disney has now finally taken charge of Marvel’s international licensing, those concerns might have some substance.
Panini license Marvel extensively outside of the US, across South America and Europe, with a range of titles on sale on the UK news stand. But the problem with licensed titles is that the majority of fans of a license, assuming the quality of product is maintained, simply would never notice the company publishing their comic has changed.
If Disney now decides to withdraw Panini’s license and develop its own publishing operations – as it does in countries such as India – this could leave a gaping hole in the European company’s finances.
While there’s no suggestion at this stage that Disney is considering such a move, Bleeding Cool notes that in Italy, for example, Panini and Disney are “sworn rivals in the comic book arena”, which may not bode well for a publisher that has successfully developed the Marvel brand in Europe for many years.
In a separate development, Cynopsis Kids reports Marvel is shifting its book market distribution in an effort to aggressively grow its book business, and is also extending its direct marketing deal. It has just signed a worldwide book deal with the Hachette Book Group, who already distribute a wide range of manga titles, to sell and distribute its books, which will begin in September.
One piece of good news for existing Marvel partners – and comic fans – Marvel has also signed a deal with Diamond Comics Distributor to extend its exclusive Direct Market Service Agreement, which will see it continuing to distribute Marvel’s product to the comic shop market in the UK and elsewhere.
Does pose some very interesting questions, doesn’t it?
After Marvel UK wound up Panini were pretty much responsible for all of Marvel’s UK presence outside of the comic book stores. And in the UK, the Newsagents have always been the first place for new readers and kids.
If Disney pulled that away from Panini, they’d kind of be shooting themselves in foot. The number of Marvel reprint titles they publish has become significant. It would leave a gap in the market.
Unless Disney intend to re-open British offices again, and do it themselves. I’d have thought that to be unlikely, but could obviously be beneficial to upcoming British creators.