Holy Comic Price Drop, Batman!
Oct 2010 13

Holy Comic Price Drop, Batman!

Posted In Blog,Comics,Entertainment

by Damon Martin

DC and Marvel have both made major announcements recently concerning the pricing of their comics. Seems the companies have more-or-less simultaneously decided to drop the price of many of their more expensive titles starting in 2011.

The move will see more than 80% of DC’s ongoing series drop priced at $2.99 (instead of $3.99). Days after DC made their announcement, Marvel also confirmed upcoming reductions on an as yet to be named “select” group of existing titles, as well as new books debuting in 2011.

The move sent a wave of relief over many financially strapped comic book connoisseurs, but let’s dig down deeper into the price adjustments to see if DC and Marvel really have the fan or the bottom line at heart with this recession-proofing move.

Though Marvel is short on details, DC Comics have been more forthcoming with the specifics. Their price drop also brings with it a possible change in storyline and book format. For example, the standard $3.99 comic with 32 pages/22 story pages will be reduced in price/format to $2.99 with 32 pages/20 story pages. Co-feature titles such as “Adventure Comics” and “Action Comics” will also drop to $2.99, but see their books go from 40 pages/30 story pages down to 32 pages/20 story pages with no more co-features.

Retailers reacting to this price change have notably pointed out that customers have dropped more titles based on a content or creative team change than a price change, so ultimately the tweaked price could result in more lost fans than regained ones.

Taking a slightly different approach than DC, Marvel stated that the price drop will not affect the story page format of their 32-page offerings, but they still haven’t named the titles that will see a decrease in cost. They did say however that most new titles will see the lower $2.99 cost, but again those titles won’t start until 2011 so there’s no telling what or how many there will be at that time. The change, according to Marvel, was in part due to the success of digital formats which has facilitated the price change for their standard issue paper books (but that could just be PR BS).


[Bettina in Comic Dreams]

While no comic fan is going to turn their nose up at saving money, it’s the bigger picture that may be more troubling. DC Comics recently announced that the Wildstorm brand, which was coincidentally started by current DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee, would be shutting their doors at the end of 2010. Add to that the recent news that in a reshuffling of sorts, DC Comics has fired three editors at Vertigo Comics, and rumors persist that the brand will eventually go the way of the dinosaur as well.

One of those editors, Joan Hilty, was actually the person who gave Brian K. Vaughan his big break doing “Swamp Thing.” Vaughan went on to write the popular “Y-The Last Man” series (a Vertigo title that has been optioned for a Hollywood film) as well as “Ex-Machina” (a Wildstorm title). Vaughan also went on to be a creative writer for the TV series Lost.

The changes at DC coincide with the company’s acquisition by Warner Brothers. Over the course of the next year about 20% of the DC staff are expected to be laid off. According to a press release from DC, the job losses come in conjunction with office moves and “strategic business realignment.”

Though fans are more likely to pay attention and raise objections about the quality of books being put out, they should be concerned about these major shifts. Initially, no fan is going to object to these recent price changes because saving money on the surface seems like a good thing. But from a creative standpoint, the cost of these savings may ultimately prove to be high.

Hopefully, the price drop will turn out to be a positive, but true believers should remember the great twists in comic book history while watching the suits running the business we love.