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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Five Dollar Comic books-WTF?

I was reading an article online that said many at the big two are pushing to drive the price of comics to $5. WTF?

Let me get this straight…Publishers like Marvel and DC want readers to pay $5 for a 32-page comic book? $5 for 32 pages?

Yeah, this is a great way to drive people right out of the hobby.

I believe the $5 comic will be the nail in the coffin that finally kills the comic book industry.

Has anyone told these geniuses at Marvel and DC that Comic books aren’t selling at $4? Heck, they weren’t selling at $2.99.

When a new issue costs as much as an old back issue from the 1970s something is wrong with the business model at the big two.

When the price of Comics went to 50 cents 30 years ago in the early 1980s there began a decline in comic sales. Sure things picked back up in the late 80’s and early 90’s with the speculator boom but since the mid 1990’s the entire industry has been in decline sales wise. And this price increase could mean lead to the demise of the 32-page comic book.

In the business of publishing it costs money to print comics. Lots of it. And a publisher needs to print a certain mininmum to meet a certain price point. And there comes a point when the printing costs just become too expensive for the beloved 32-page comic book.

If comics are costing $5 the number of comics printed must be under 25,000 or 30,000 units. That’s the only mathematical reason for them to be at that price point. This means that fewer people are reading comic books than in any point in the industry’s history.

And why should they read comics? Most of them are absolutely awful. Most are filled with violence so graphic it would make a 1950s EC comic look family friendly. And many of the heroes we’re supposed to look up to as icons are hostile angry, violent sociopaths with no regard for the communities they’re supposed to protect. Everything is all about them.

Even worse, most people including diehard fans just can’t figure out what’s going on anyomore. At DC we’ve got a multiverse of titles in 52 different universes.. At Marvel there’s a new earth featuring characters from a hodgepodge of alternate universes.  There’s no entry point and no incentive for a new reader to try anything. There’s no way for a title to build word of mouth with readers.

And no reason for readers to commit to a title because in 24-36 months editors will just blow everything up and start all over with a new series of #1 issues where everything starts all over again.

From a business standpoint the Marvel and DC are hemorrhaging money. With all these reboots and relaunches millions of dollars are being spent developing, creating and launching comics that barely go 12 issues before they’re cancelled. Editorial at the big two is throwing sh*t at a wall and hoping something sticks. Hoping, wishing and praying for that Fantastic Four #1 or Giant Sized X-Men #1 or Detective Comics #27 that will usher in a new era where comics will be popular again.

Doing the exact same things with the exact same characters and expecting a different result. The rest of the world calls this insanity but it’s business as usual at Marvel and DC. This plan hasn’t worked in 22 years and now publishers are clearly getting desperate in their efforts to get new readers.

Paperback now costs as much as Two comics!
Asking customers to pay $5 for comic books shows how no one at the big two has a vision for the future of the medium. In a world where people can get whole novels like the ones I publish in eBook form for 99¢ and read a whole library of books for just $9.99 a month with Amazon’s KindleUnlimited program who in their right mind is going to pay $5 for a 32-page comic book?

Instead of raising prices, the big two need to be raising their quality. Comics need to get back to being cheap easy to read fun entertainment. When 32-page comics cost more than an eBook or an app the comic book industry is in trouble.

In Monday’s blog I’ll be asking the question what’s wrong with the comic book industry.


  1. Shawn you are right on point. The 32 page comic (which really isn't 32 pages more like 22 to 25 if you take out the ads) is a dinosaur, dying a slow death. Why DC or Marvel just don't go the digital route and offer their comics on Amazon for 99 cents, thereby eliminating printing costs all together, is mind blogging. The fact that the comics aren't even in grocery stories is also insane. If they were to go the Archie route, and offer a digest size book available at the checkout line, then maybe the $5 price point would make sense. But, they won't do that either. The bigger question is,iIn a time when Superhero movies dominate the cinema, why isn't the comic book industry flourishing? But as you've pointed out in previous blogs, kids can't find them, and the books aren't written for an all ages market. It's just a shame.

  2. Yeah, the comic just can't compete at $5 against eBooks and digital content. When product costs this much money it's not going to survive. And with comics not being where kids can buy them or content that's not kid friendly it's not in a place to compete. You would think publishers would be taking advantage of this movie boom to sell to new readers but no one will make all-ages comics. Money in the Bank but no one wants to make it.