Fort Wayne family-owned company becomes dominant online U.S. distributor for DC Comics

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Lunar Distribution LLC, owned by Fort Wayne’s Merkler family, is now the sole online distributor of DC Comics in the United States, and they’ve grown so much they’re expanding to a massive warehouse in New Haven. The Merkler family assures that this is only the beginning.

The Discount Comic Book Service company, or DCBS, is one of the largest online comic book retailers nationally and has been based in Fort Wayne for over 20 years. When the Merkler family started DCBS in their home basement in 1999, co-owner Christina Merkler never imagined it would grow to be what it is today or that her family would start another successful company during the pandemic.

“It’s crazy, we were so worried. You worry that you don’t even know if your business is going to exist a month later,” said Merkler, “And then you create another business that has blossomed into something that we still are shaking our heads about.”

The Merklers were satisfied with the strides that DCBS made over the years and were used to laying low, but when DC Comics, a titan in the comic book world, reached out needing to fill a gap in distribution caused by the pandemic, the Merklers were quick to organize.

“It’s weird because as DCBS, we’ve always flown under the radar because we’re a discounter, so we discount to consumers. And so we’re like the Amazon of comics. So not everyone loves us because of that, I mean, especially our competitors, I guess,” said Merkler, “But with Lunar, it’s a whole different ballgame, it’s crazy, but also, it’s nice to know that after all of these years of hard work that DC had the confidence in us to know that we could take care of their customers on a different level.”

Last year, DC Comics’ main distributor, Diamond Comic Distributors, had to slow down. However, the Merkler companies are unique in that they always operated online, so the pandemic proved a time for them to not only survive, but thrive.

“We received a call from DC asking if we could help, along with other retailers that had online experience and knew how to get product to people through shipping. We created that business [Lunar] within three weeks, got it up and running, created the website, and kind of hit the ground running.”

After Diamond was able to resume business, Christina Merkler feared that Lunar would lose all their business from DC Comics, but instead, the opposite happened.

“About a month later, we received more information from DC saying they’d like us just to take on at least half the territory and that they’d be cutting ties with Diamond.”

After the Merklers realized how much Lunar would be taking on, they sat down to make some serious decisions about how to properly expand. That’s when they started hunting for a warehouse for Lunar, and it was the right move for them when DC Comics came to a big decision.

“So then as of January one, we took over the entire U.S. territory of DC Comics and some international. We do have about 10% international customers that we currently take care of.”

The new warehouse is located in New Haven and was built almost as fast as Lunar was expanding. Since the Merklers are moving to that location soon, they are looking for new hires to join their warehouse team. The mayor of New Haven released a statement to WANE 15 News eager about the upcoming changes.

“This is a big win for our community,” Mayor Steve McMichael said, “The shell building that will house these companies is just being completed, and these growing businesses are already filling it.”

Christina Merkler expressed excitement towards the futures of DCBS and Lunar Distribution LLC, and promised that this is the start of something big.

“We have about 30 to 40 positions that we’d want to fill for that side of the business because Lunar is growing so much. We know we currently have about 65 employees, but we know that’s going to probably double once we add Marvel into the mix, which is the largest publisher in all of the comics industry. So we know that we’re looking at at least 100, 230, 150 new employees in the next year or two.”