Are Comics Becoming Too Expensive?

Are they underpriced? Just about right? Just curious on where you stand on the economics of the print industry. Is there a market for super premium books at $10 a pop?

9 Likes

I think anything more the 4 or 5 is a bit much, I would put comics at about $3.99

8 Likes

I don’t think they are too expensive per comic, but I do think they are too expensive per story.

Silver-age comics almost always had at least one full story in one comic. Now I need to buy about a years worth of comics to have anything resembling a storyline. That’s honestly way too expensive and it takes too long to tell, and the story suffers because of the long time frame.

I would pay much more than current monthly cost if I got something in my hand each month that felt fulfilling in itself.

The way to go for me would probably be to buy the trades (which I also do), but if no one buys the comics I fear I’m not going to see the trades.

I would be happier if they returned to the silverage format. A good story does more for me than gorgeous art that takes forever to draw.

12 Likes

I usually wait for TPB because I get the full story, The only time I collect a actual comics is if the cover art is worth it.

6 Likes

I completely agree. There should be far more self contained titles. The need to read so much has to be a factor for potential readers.

9 Likes

I like this too. Have a Michael Turner level cover and Romita Jr. interiors. I have no desire for art to be more sophisticated than Silvistri or McFarlane. They got by just fine on cheaper 80’s paper.

I liked the premium titles from DC in the 80’s. Omega Men, Legion of Super-Heroes, The Outsiders, Infinity Inc., Camelot 3000. They’re still more bang for your buck than a modern comic (all would be under $3 with inflation).

I personally feel price and crossovers prevent many new readers. Silver age is a nice format.

7 Likes

If we compare with what I get in other media for the same money, the current model is a tough sell.

Do I want one comic story (about one year of comics), or do I want to buy one season of Westworld, or a CW show? And that’s if I consider retail price and don’t start facroring in what I can see for free on CW web or how much I get for one well timed month of HBO subscription.

Comics fighting the media attention war on the art front will have a rough time. Look at how gorgeous shows are now, nice art is fighting goliaths.

But stories, stories are another matter. Comics are perfect for telling short stories that matter and etches themselves into your mind forever. If you can put out a high quality story and focus your attention there, you can go to head to head with HBO:s Westworld.

6 Likes

I am a story not an art person. Artwork can turn me off like recent Martian Manhunter and Red Hood. Partly because of vision a d partly because I only have a phone and must biy digitally because of handicap, great art is not a draw for me.

There is little story or characterization.in most comics today. It has fallen tremendously sinse Early Rebirth.

Justice League Odyssey recently became great. I couldn’t be more pleased as a Jessica Cruz fan.

Most of the comic books sold currently aren’t worth 2.99 much less 3.99.

I had hoped that the DC Kids trades would get younger readers into our hobby. But the storylines and characters have little to do with what the DC Universe represent. So I have stopped buying them.

I find myself more and more reading non current issues. Partly because of book club, but mostly they are just :good at a fair price.

5 Likes

I guess it depends on what you’re buying. If you’re buying single issues then it depends on whether or not you feel you’re getting your money’s worth that month. If you’re buying the trade, you gotta weight the cost of hardcover vs a normal tpb.

Digitally it gets dodgy.

In either case, physical or digital, I usually wait for a sale. I’ve found ComiXology has some amazing sales. I picked up all the American Vampire trades recently on Comixology for the cost of basically two hardcovers.

If you’re at a convention, you’ll usually find fifty cents bins or places selling tpbs at a fraction of the cost.

Because of these two methods I’ve been spoiled. It’s been a while since I’ve paid full price for a comic, but that’s also due to my budget.

4 Likes

I agree. I love The Terrifics and Odyssey (now). Also Hawkman. I see no reason any of these titles would require expensive and unique printing technology that wasn’t available in, say, 1992.

Like yourself I’ve rarely liked comics with fancy art. I also have serious vision issues and am looking to buy an e-reader for ComiXology because no blue light. (I’d love a comic reader only version of this app for an e-reader.)

My understanding of the business model is a bit messed up. I think I get it though. Maybe.

When Target sells something they choose a price (which may be different from another retailer) for the thing they’re selling. The manufacturer of that product doesn’t care about the overhead at Target. They cover the costs of distribution and they’re finished, yeah?

The comics model seems (to me) to include the overheads of the stores which sell the comics. I don’t know if that’s a sustainable model. Cheaper talent. Cheaper paper. Greater availability. (In the 70’s and 80’s comics sold quite well and I bought them at newsstands, supermarkets, convenience stores…)

Sooner or later the price will be completely unaffordable.

P.S. Charging $5 for a digital copy is ridiculous.

5 Likes

In my opinion single issues are to expensive, thats why i don’t buy them anymore. I only buy graphic novels and omnibus. If i do buy single issues, they’re usually used and like a dollar.

3 Likes

I dislike how out of sync with inflation it is. Let’s say 20 years. The average cover price was $1.99. That should be roughly $2.99 with inflation. Not terrible.

Wolverine 1 was $7.99 last month! The average title in the top 25 was $4.59 an issue. (Spawn 305 was the only $2.99 title last month.)

6 Likes

Action Comics #1 would cost around $1.85 in 2020 dollars. It featured 11 stories.
Action Comics #1021 is $3.99 and features the fourth part of an ongoing story.

You tell me.

9 Likes

One thing I’m reading a lot is how little readers get for their money these days. I’d love more stories per issue. I’ll settle for self contained stories. What I’m actually getting is 12 issues of Young Justice (the need to add a second writer to help salvage the title) and it’s going nowhere with my favorite characters. :pensive:

4 Likes

Price is a major problem for new readers.
“Hey buddy, what heroes are you interested in?”

“I like Batman. The new Wonder Woman movie looks cool. And I might like Superman.”

“Well buddy, I can sell you this month’s comics for about $12. Of course, there’s multiple Superman and Batman comics. If you want those too, it’ll be about $40. And if you want the start of the stories, I’ve got back issues. That’ll be another $100. And if you want the end of the story, that’s another $100.”

“You know what? This is too expensive and complicated.”

“Well, I can sell you trades. That’s about $30 per storyline.”

“Yeah, but if I actually like it, I’m staring at a $40 per month hobby. And the quality of each issue won’t be known until after I buy it. This sounds like a bad idea for my wallet.”

7 Likes

Way overpriced imo. I understand the economics and why they charge what they do, but that price is what is keeping the industry from growing. There is a large economic disconnect between publishers and buyers.

Personally I’ve solved my needs like this:

  1. Read digital.
  2. Subscribe to DCU, Marvel Unlimited, Comixology Unlimited.
  3. Purchase paper only for collectibles or highly desirable sets.
  4. Buy smaller publishers only when their digital comics go on sale. This happens regularly and I can’t remember the last time I paid more than $2 for a comic and 90% of the time $1 (graphic novels go on sale just as frequently and are often even more cost effective).

This gives me all the content I could want or possibly read. Sacrificing paper copies for digital is absolutely worth it for me as I’m interested in content, not the presentation media.

This works and has brought my comic budget back to a reasonable place.

6 Likes

The same question was asked when they went from $0.12 to $0.20 fairly quickly.

I think only physical printing of high selling tiles, say 25.000 copies or more is probably warranted, but the vast majority should be digital and substantially reduce their price on digital books.

6 Likes

Some of the problem is the art. It’s so detailed it requires more expensive printing technology and paper. I was reading Hawkman (Bryan Hitch) and noticed the backgrounds (particularly the sky) look almost real on my iPad. The sun looks illuminated. This is unnecessary for me personally. I feel like this is something @TurokSonOfStone1950 mentioned once upon a time.

I’m okay with more conventional art like what Liam Sharp has done in Green Lantern. Everything doesn’t have to be Jae Lee or Stjepan Šejić. I‘d choose a $2.25 book within good writing and Joe Kubert or Carmine Infantino-esque art printed on cheap paper almost every time.

8 Likes

This is a question I’ve been asking a lot lately. According to this inflation meter I found online-- so you know-- trustworthy-- $.12 in 1962 is now $1.03. $.20 is 1972 is $1.24. $.40 in 1979 is $1.42. $.75 in 1983 is $1.94. These numbers are a little bit meaningless because after that inflation goes insane. And they don’t match up all that well. The makers of the comics will say the $3.99 price is because of higher pay for talent-- not gonna argue with that one-- production value that’s a billion times better than 1962-- and here is where we question-- why isn’t 500 million times better good enough? Does anybody really love multiple covers? Are $4.00- $8.00 comics really accessible to a mass audience?

6 Likes

The thing is, you can’t judge what the price of a book should be based solely on inflation rates. The problem with that assumption is that it doesn’t take into account production costs, or the fact that companies just sell fewer issues now than they ever have before. Paper and ink are dwindling resources. Their prices rise faster than inflation. Plus, the simple fact is that, compared to other entertainment mediums, comics don’t really sell all that much. In order to pay back the overhead, keep up with inflation, and have enough money to make a positive return on sales, we’re looking at around $4 or $5 in 2020.

3 Likes