Comic Book Prices Creep To $3.99 Per Issue

Over at sci-fi publisher website Tor.com, Heather Massey points out that the ceiling on comic book pricing is being steadily pushed higher by the big publishers, especially Marvel, which now prices individual issues of some of its titles at $3.99 each.

In an economy where people are looking to cut back on expenses, is Marvel making a wise decision? Or will it just drive readers to trade paperbacks and pirated torrents?

I don’t want to see comics die. But I, like many, am afraid that forking over $3.99 for what essentially amounts to 10 minutes of reading pleasure (at best) simply isn’t a sound decision.

“Are Comic Books Dying?”
(Photo: shuttermonkey)

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  1. gerrylum says:

    I never thought I would do it, but I find myself reading torrented comics more and more, as “collecting” comics doesn’t seem as important to me as it did in my teen years.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      @gerrylum: yet somehow reading them is still important enough for you to illegally download them. I’m not judging.

      I remember a few Image titles back in the day costing up to $3.99. They were kind of a rip but paper is a dying media. On the other hand, digital formats take away the whole reason I used to read and collect comic books. I liked owning the art.

      • Cyco says:

        @DeanOfAllTrades: Of course you’re not judging. I don’t se how anyone could get that from your first sentence.

      • ccbweb says:

        @DeanOfAllTrades: I’m judging. That’s complete crap. It’s not as important to you as it once was so you’re free to go ahead and take someone else’s work. Excellent. If it’s not important, then move on. Otherwise, pay for the comic book.

        • trujunglist says:

          @ccbweb:

          I’m willing to pay an appropriate amount for them, say the value that they will be within minutes of leaving the store. I think about $.25 should do it.
          I’m not even going to bother dling comics now that I’ve canceled my subscriptions. No point in continuing it. Although he can’t really die, Wolverine is now essentially dead to me, along with Cap (Bucky?? NoooOoOoOOoOoOOoOO!), Iron Man, the TMNT, and the X-Men.

          • ccbweb says:

            @trujunglist: Right, that’s how it works. You decide what amount you’re willing to pay for the thing and if the seller is selling it for that amount or less you probably buy it. If the seller is selling it for me, you don’t buy it. That’s the whole commerce thing, I think.

    • putch says:

      @gerrylum: i’m almost the opposite. it’s only after spending a few quality weeks with my friend’s 1gb+ of torrented comics that I started buying issues on a weekly basis again.

      there’s so much back-story that it is practically impossible to get caught up. the paperbacks make it easier. but even those can be incredibly hard to track down at times.

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        @hovy:

        They’re even cheaper when they’re originally published in Japan (and Korean ones are half that price), so that is not the reason.

        Other reasons include:
        Much smaller circulation in the US
        Much lower quality printing in Japan (don’t get me wrong, they last, even the newsprint phone books, but they yellow)
        About half of any phone book is filler. Utter crap.

        I gave up on US comics for several reasons:
        I read X-men. I realized that I was reading the same story year after year, with maybe a couple characters swapped out after the annual crossover.
        ~$2 per issue is where I started thinking it was getting too expensive.
        Being assured of getting anything…in some cases even being likely to get it…meant subscribing via pull lists. This virtually guarantees you’re going to miss issues, particularly early ones.
        This fact was not made up for by collections. Not all comics got trade paperbacks. Many of the ones that did didn’t get all issues collected. The collections were/also about the same price (sometimes more) as buying the individual issues.
        The pamphlet format is fragile and unwieldy, and the trades are almost as bad, because they try to replicate it (only thicker).

        Then I went to Japan. Fortunately I can read Japanese, so I was able to get hooked on Japanese comics at a fraction of the price, in a format that fits in my pocket, and with a wider variety of stories than you’ll ever see in the US (even with the more adult non-superhero stuff in the last decade or so). The used bookstores made it even more appealing…collected editions of good stuff for as little as a buck per book.

        The comics industry in the US is just fucked up from top to bottom. I don’t see why people put up with it.

        • DylanMorgan says:

          @TechnoDestructo: I stopped buying them a while back for the same reasons. For a while there, I would pick up a copy that a friend had bought or check out trades at a bookstore. With the exception of Vertigo from DC (practically all of which are available in trade form) and the Ultimate line from Marvel, I haven’t seen much interesting from the big boys in quite some time. The nice thing is that the entry cost is much lower for independent artists these days, and many of the indies have decided to pursue alternate revenue streams, with the comics being available for free.

  2. tc4b says:

    I don’t read comics anymore, but I do check the occasional graphic novel out of the library, they have a good selection and I’m in a somewhat rural area. Plus, I already have boxes and boxes of the ones I used to collect; if I bought more, where the hell would I put them? The library is turning out to be a tremendous resource as the cost of living increases.

  3. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    I would like to see them forgo individual issues altogether. Finish a story arc and release it straight to trade paperback. $10 for six issues collected is a hell of a lot better than $4 per issue.

    • Sidecutter says:

      @Diet-Orange-Soda: Unfortunately the going rate for Trades is usually $20 for a six issue arc book. But that was when singles were $3. I’d be surprised if trades don’t jump to $25.

  4. rellog says:

    I too collected when I was a kid. I quite when prices reached 75 cents. NO WAY I would ever pay $4 for a comicbook….

  5. rellog says:

    quit… that is….

    Why again can’t we edited our posts mods?????

    • GMFish says:

      @rellog: “Why again can’t we edited our posts mods?????

      Eye assoome da staph hear lovs laffin ad or misteaks.

    • joshua70448 says:

      @rellog: Probably so people don’t try to be sneaky and reverse their position after they’ve posted, or to keep new content at the top of the pile so it’s always noticed, or to keep the comments from getting too confusing when people quote pre-edit comments, or to minimize database hits, or any number of reasons. If anything, they could implement a limited time window for edits for fixing typos, but I doubt they’ll give you full edit access any time soon.

      On a similar note, I used to run a forum and as an April Fool’s, I gave everyone the “ability” to edit posts, but editing posts actually just added a large red statement to the top calling the user a doofus or something similar. Laughs all around. :-D

      Back on topic: I’ve never been a comic book reader myself, but in the last few months I’ve started regularly reading some webcomics.

  6. Belabras ate my dingo! says:

    I just buy the collected graphic novels at this point. I simply can’t afford to buy these issue by issue anymore.

  7. chris_l says:

    I decided earlier today to cancel all of my subscriptions to floppies (single comics) and just wait for the trades.

    Floppies, at best, are discounted minimally. HeavyInk.com, a great site, has 20% with free shipping, but they’ll be charging for shipping soon. Why should I only get 20% and pay for shipping to read a fraction of a story when I can wait and read an entire story for 35% off and free shipping from Amazon?

    The comic industry is pricing themselves out of existence. At least with the indie publishers I can rationalize that they don’t have ads, but when Marvel pumps 1/3rd of the book with ads AND raises prices by 33%, that is just balls the size of grapefruits.

  8. dragonfire81 says:

    It’s been a long time since I bought a new comic book. I usually purchase them second hand.

  9. AstroPig7 says:

    Sadly, I remember when comic books were under $2.00 per issue. I’m either dating myself or realizing a depressing truth about the industry.

  10. Rob Weddle says:

    For anyone here complaining about the cost of comic books:

    Comic books aren’t targeted to you.

    Yes, you loved them as a kid. Yes, you probably still do.

    And yes, you used to pay less than a dollar for them. Lots of other things also used to cost less than a dollar, remember? No? Probably because you weren’t buying them. When you were buying comic books and baseball cards with your lawn-mowing/snow-shoveling money, Mom was buying the milk.

    Now it’s your turn to buy the milk, and let the kids with 100% expendable income buy the comic books.

    Sorry.

    • Diet-Orange-Soda says:

      @Rob Weddle: The comics I read definitely are not targeted towards kids. Besides, every kid I know is saving their pennies for Halo 4.

      • toolverine says:

        @Diet-Orange-Soda:

        The vast majority of the market for comics is over 18.

      • Rob Weddle says:

        @Diet-Orange-Soda: Define kid. For these purposes I define it as anyone who still lives at home and has no major regular expenses. Teenagers can certainly cross into “mature audience” territory.

        And when I refer to who is targeted, I refer strictly to who can spend the money, not the stories themselves.

      • Pink Puppet says:

        @Diet-Orange-Soda: With the exception of the ridiculously fun Marvel Adventures titles, I would never let my more youthful family members pick up the titles I enjoy.

    • justelise says:

      @Rob Weddle: I hate to burst your bubble, but the vast majority of Marvel and DC titles are *not* written for children. You must be talking about Archies or some other kiddie book. Most comics are geared to young adults and adults. The comic book industry would’ve already collapsed if it was targeting kids, because (the majority of) today’s kids don’t give a crap about books or comics, and would certainly sacrifice them for video games, computers, cell phones, and internet access. People over the age of 18 are keeping this industry alive.

    • KarateMedia says:

      @Rob Weddle: Just wanted to make one more “you’re so f’ing out of touch” comment for you, Rob.

      In addition to what has already been said about many comics not really being geared towards kids, I’d argue that you’re 100% wrong simply because I *enjoy* reading comics, therefore I’m pretty sure I must be in the target readership.

      That said, I’ve got a mortgage, bills, a baby, and so many other things that require my money that I can barely afford just one title a month. And what I do buy really doesn’t seem worth $2.99, must less $3.99.

      How much does an hour-long drama cost to d/l on iTunes or Amazon? $1.99 for a recent episode of 24 is one example. And I’m going to get way more entertainment for my money out of that than I am out of a 15-minute comic book read. And did you read the ending of Batman RIP? Jeez. That was the only book I’ve been buying and that right there is enough to ensure I take a sabbatical from buying comics.

    • Saboth says:

      @Rob Weddle:

      I don’t know too many kids that can throw around $4 per pop. If I had kids, they might get a $5 a week allowance…maybe.

    • SexierThanJesus says:

      @Rob Weddle: Except that you’re completely wrong. They’re marketed and targeted to males all the way up to their 30’s, and if that demographic stopped buying them the industry would cave in. But hey, let’s take your logic and run with it.

      Trix are for kids, so if it goes up to $9.50 a box nobody but kids have any right to complain. Amirite??

    • alstein says:

      @Rob Weddle:

      Given the business/creative decisions, I don’t think the comics companies are marketing books to the sane these days.

      I’m going to go on a limb here. DC goes bankrupt or is sold off cheaply by 2012.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @mbz32190:

      They get a tiny rack next to some magazine racks, a shelf in the big bookstores. Other than that, you have to go to a nerd dungeon to find them.

      That is why you had no idea, and that is why Rob is clueless, too.

      The US comics industry is a shambling zombie that by all rights ought to just drop already, but manages to lumber on in search of new brains.

    • kyle4 says:

      @Rob Weddle: Two words: Sin City. Even more, almost all comics I’ve read are geared towards adults. This is an argument towards video games too, but hey, over 50 people at one store over the age of 25 lines up for grand theft auto iv, and I wouldn’t say that’s for kids either. You have an old stigma attached to them. My dad still had that view, then I showed him the Dark Knight Returns and he took it back.

      • Rob Weddle says:

        @kylo4iskyle4: Once again, you’ve all missed the point. Well, most of you. I’m not out of touch, I’m just looking at this purely from a business and marketing perspective.

        I don’t care what age demographic Sin City is intended for. When I was 15 or 16, I was working part time and had long since grown past X-Men. Sin City was pretty fresh on the scene and it was right up my alley. Great artwork and a great story. I’m pretty certain I wasn’t in the minority, either.

        The point I was making wasn’t that the stories were for youngsters. Of course they’re not, but you know what? They’re going to read them anyway. The point was the that the pricepoint was for youngsters. If the comics industry had the wherewithal to produce and run TV ads, you can bet your ass that they would be geared to teenagers the same way Rated-R movies are geared to teenagers. And since it’s something they probably shouldn’t have, that makes it that much more appealing, and it’s just affordable enough to justify taking the risk to get it.

        Again, 15-year-old = “kid” no less than 7-year-old = “kid”. If you’re talking about “allowance,” we’re not talking about the same thing. I’m talking about making some money doing after-school work, but still with no significant bills. That’s the target demographic for comics. Hell, that’s the target demographic for almost everything.

        The Trix analogy doesn’t hold up because Mom still buys it. Show me five kids out of a hundred that buy their own cereal and I’ll give that argument creedence.

        The very fact that this story has three pages of teeth-gnashing is proof positive that when the comics publishers decided to raise their prices, we weren’t who was on their minds.

        • Amanda Tarbet says:

          @Rob Weddle: I understand what you’re trying to say, but I think that the price of comic books is proof of the exact opposite of your claim. They’ve jacked up the price precisely because they know the people buying them have real jobs, a regular income, and the extra money to spend on $4 comic books.

          Comic books that are actually written for kids are usually cheaper. For instance, Scooby Doo which is still only about $2 for the same amount of pages. Furthermore, maybe kids used to pay for their own comic books back in the day, but I feel like every time I see a kid in a comic book shop, his mom or dad is forking over the money for it, not the youngster. Cartoons are where it’s at though. Those are still free, if you don’t have cable and can get the WB with your antenna.

          Marvel and DC know their audience, and they know that they can get lots of money out of their most dedicated fans. Just saying.

    • ShinGetterPoPo says:

      @Rob Weddle: In comics we’re talking about a business that is complaining about hurting frequently. Sales are down, readership is down. So what do we do?
      Let’s raise the prices. In a mere 2 years it’s gone from $2.99 per issue to $3.99. That is a significant jump.
      I don’t care whether you’re a kid or an adult, an extra dollar per month is a significant amount of money.
      When you factor in that the people who actually buy comics don’t buy one issue per month, but several, then you have a significant increase in your monthly expendeture.

      Me, I stopped buying monthlys a while back. I’m still the target audience, but I have a wonderful choice. Spend 4 bucks a month to get a flimsy thing that rips if you look at it wrong, or wait a few months for them to put out a trade. It’s put together sturdily, and I get about 10 issues worth for 15-20 bucks instead of paying about 40.

      Saying that comics are targeted towards kids doesn’t make much sense. Kids don’t have the expendable income for comics. By the time you get old enough to get a job, then it’s time for car insurance and school payments. By the time you get a good job then it’s a mortgage.

      My little sister still gets allowance. She get about 20 a week. This gives her a choice. She can either buy a comic which she’d finish in about 5 minutes, or she can see 2 movies, lasting about 4 hours.
      She usually picks the movie.

      If a comic industry wants to keep a readership, then they need to figure out how to get more readers. Significant price leaps are not the way.

  11. catskyfire says:

    To me, it’s dumb. It’s not so much that they’re raising prices by 33%, but that they’re raising it by a dollar. It’s much more of a visual change, and a poor decision.

    Were I them, I would have raised prices, at most, by 25 cents. 3.25… Then, later, if things are going well, price creep up. There’s a reason the ‘grocery shrink ray’ works and a reason why price increases are generally small. If you take big leaps, people start to really rethink their purchases. Nickle and diming works because…it’s nickles and dimes.

    They may eventually go to graphic novels, at which point the actual comic stores will go out of business. They can’t compete with barnes and noble for those.

    Graphic novels would also be a poor decision for the companies, as you can’t pump those full of lucrative ads. (Or, if you do, you better take the price from $15-20+ bucks to 5, like a bridal magazine..)

    • Outrun1986 says:

      @catskyfire: The grocery shrink ray works because food is an essential, people have to eat. No we don’t like it and we have already complained about it quite some on this website. Regardless of how the food producers try to manipulate us, we still have to eat. Therefore we will buy their products. Comics are not an essential, so if they raise prices we can simply quit buying and not feel many effects, unless you have an extreme addiction to comics.

      I do agree however that they should raise the price in small increments, because when your looking at a dollar difference some people will quit buying comics or get the novels at the library (my library has a ton of them), very few people will continue to buy the individual issues.

  12. dwasifar says:

    When I was a kid my weekly allowance was based on the price of a comic book. When the price jumped 25%, I got a 25% raise in my allowance.

    From 12 cents to 15 cents a week.

    If they’re now $3.99, that means that in 40 years the price of a comic book has increased by 2660%.

    To put that in perspective, a Ford Mustang cost $2,368 back then. If the price had kept pace with comic books, a new Mustang today would cost $6,298,880.00 (plus license, tax, destination charges, and doc fee).

    Maybe the car manufacturers should price on Marvel’s model. They could each build 100 cars a year and still make a profit.

  13. suburbancowboy says:

    I hate the double dipping that goes on too. Release Secret Invasion #1. Then release several variant covers. Then release a “Director’s Cut” of issue 1 with a few extra pages. And it isn’t just Marvel. They released a “Director’s Cut” of Kick Ass #1 too.

    • syndprod says:

      @suburbancowboy: Actually, Kick-Ass IS published by Marvel, under the Icon imprint.

      And I really despise the variants and reprints as well. At this point there are at least 8 different versions of #1 of No Hero from Avatar Press out there…

  14. Anathema777 says:

    @Rob Weddle: I don’t understand your argument. People are complaining that the the cost of comics doesn’t match their value. And your argument is that they’re for kids anyway? So what it boils down to is that it’s okay to overcharge kids because they’re not buying milk?

  15. He says:

    I miss cheap newsprint pages. Count me among those who don’t read Marvel comics anymore because of the cost.

    And if they weren’t targeted at me, why would they sell them next to the porno mags at my local convenience store.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @He:

      I hate that “it’s not targeted at you!” bullshit.

      By that logic it’s only targeted at the people who buy it. Whether it appeals to everyone else or not…they don’t get to complain about the fact that it all could be done more cheaply without losing any utility for an actual READER…nope, because it isn’t targeted at them. Even their complaints about the reasons they don’t buy them though they might otherwise like to. IOW, the reasons they aren’t the “target” (as defined by who is actually hit.)

      You know, I should have gotten the marksman ribbon…all the ones that were actually targeted at the target hit!

  16. LetMeGetTheManager says:

    That’ll cut down on the money they are spending on their dates!

    Although do dates on Second Life actually cost anything?

  17. Trencher93 says:

    Quality is atrocious, too – I used to read comics in the 80s and early 90s, and recently downloaded a few new comics from demonoid. They were awful. Bad storytelling, bad art (too much Japanese animation influence), and, really, nothing new. Recycling the same old ideas over and over. But four bucks a comic isn’t really out of line considering the shrinking market, increased costs, and the significantly better paper used today. Comics will start gouging the people who stay in the scene more and more, and eventually eat itself and die.

    • startertan says:

      Yikes! I guess I will have to start cutting back too. I have a few titles I still get that I have been waiting to reach a milestone (typically issue #100) before I chop it. I guess DC will be raising their prices too?

      @Trencher93: Absolutely dead on about the manga/anime influence and frankly it’s annoying.

    • Kia says:

      @Trencher93: Oh boo hoo, there’s Eastern influence. There’s still plenty of atrocious Liefeld-esque art for you to get your jollies from, don’t worry.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @Trencher93: Oh god the anime influence in comics and cartoons today makes me ill.

      /don’t get me wrong I love anime- but TRANSFORMERS shouldn’t look like it!!!

    • coren says:

      @Trencher93: If you read comics in the 90s, I don’t think you have the right to complain about a thing now.

  18. redskull says:

    I’m an adult and I can’t afford comic books anymore, so how do they expect a kid to?

    But then, as others here have pointed out, comics stopped being made for kids long ago. A couple years ago I decided to get rid of a bunch of comics and thought I would hand them out at Halloween (in addition to candy). As I sorted through them I realized there were very few I would feel comfortable giving to a child and said forget it.

    I used to collect tons of comics every month until the price got to around $2.50 – $3. I realized at that time that in addition to being too expensive, they just weren’t any fun to read anymore. I want to see Batman fighting a guy dressed like a clown, not fighting drug dealers or men who carve the number of murders they’ve committed into their skin.

    Also, I realize the phone book-sized manga are in balck & white, but still, why is it possible to buy a 500 page Japanese comic for $6 – $8, while a slim 22 page American comic goes for $4? Something’s not adding up here.

    On the rare occasion I do buy a comic now, it’s usually a trade paperback of older stories. New comics just don’t appeal to me. When comics eventually die, I will miss what they were, not what they’ve become.

    • hovy says:

      @redskull: Because the Japanese comics are imported reprints. Publishers like Tokyopop and Del Ray are just paying for the licensing rights and printing costs (along with marketing, storage, whatnot).

      American companies, on the other hand, have to pay those costs on top of paying creators (which in some cases also includes health coverage and other benefits), staff and so on. Which gives us $3-4 comics and why trade paperbacks and graphic novels end up usually being cheaper when released.

  19. Ben_Q2 says:

    I have a number of comics on my wall that I paid .15 to .20 cents for. Selling comics was my 1st business as a kid (12 years old). The higher the price got the more I seen my business go down. I still buy them today but only off of Ebay and only here and there. At $4 a issues its a lot, but given the time it takes to read one. Not worth the cost to me.

    You could also do a story on sport cards. Years go, I pulled a WG Sign SPX card. Booked at $2,000 I could not sell it for anything under $100. Today packs cost so much its not funny. Given that I just bought the cards I need and no longer packs. In long run I own all the 1/1s, 31 31/xxx of Guy Hebert (ok sue me) all for the cost of less then a box of cards today (Ok I spent about $500 on it) (I just won my last 31/xxx (there are only 42 numbered) Sunday))

  20. Tyrone Walker says:

    I stopped collecting comics back in the eighties, when they hit sixty cents. I can’t believe that they are eight times that for even less interesting, less colorful stories. Oh well, what can I say?

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @Tyrone Walker:

      The stuff on the magazine racks is almost all rehashed trash.

      To find the good stuff you have to go into your local nerd dungeon (comics/games store). THAT IS PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      Or if you’re looking for collected editions, you might find them at regular bookstores…but only a handful of them, and you have to sift through the recycled superheros to find it.

  21. Tyrone Walker says:

    Excuse my terrible math, I meant almost seven times the price…

  22. dreamsneverend says:

    It’s not cool to touch your comics anyway. Just like sports cards they have to be vacuum sealed with some inert gas and stored away for value later in life.

  23. WoodwardCheney says:

    Here’s a chart comparing the price of a comic to the rate of inflation: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=18583

  24. yagisencho says:

    For roughly the same price (420 yen), Japanese consumers can buy black and white trade collections of their favorite manga series. These typically have 120+ pages or so of content (ad-free). So that’s basically 5x the content for the same price as a single American comic book.

    I collected US comics throughout junior high and high school, but switched to manga as soon as I could read Japanese. Just a better entertainment investment.

  25. ThickSkinned says:

    Sounds like the comics industry needs to move to a digital download system. The Marvel digital comics plan is a nice start, but doesn’t get you new issues. Has anyone tried it?

    [www.marvel.com]

    • Diet-Orange-Soda says:

      @ThickSkinned: Yuck. Just like books, movies, music, and video games, I want nothing to do with a movement towards digital distribution. “Oh hey, let me sit in my big comfy reading chair with my brand new .cbz file.”

      • KarateMedia says:

        @Diet-Orange-Soda: Books and comics I can understand, because of the whole tactile, holding a book in your hands thing. But music and video games? Unless you’re a vinyl fanatic, I don’t see why d/l music should be a problem, particularly since d/ls are a good $5-$6 less than buying a CD – and video games? That just seems like the perfect medium for d/ls…

        • ailema says:

          @KarateMedia: The sound quality isn’t as good. $9.99 for a digital copy of a $12 album is not a big enough savings to make up for the loss of sound quality.

        • SexCpotatoes says:

          @KarateMedia: There are plenty of problems with digital distribution. If I buy something, yes, I’m paying for the “content” but I also like to have the physical copy to do with as I wish.

          I remember reading somewhere that your rights as far as music goes are either 1. You bought a CD, you can rip the cd, listen to it on your computer, make a backup copy, play it in your car, whatever. Also make a mix CD to give away to a friend. OR 2. You bought a license to a bunch of songs, you are only allowed to listen to them on the device you downloaded them onto, wanna hear that song from your ipod in your car? Buy another license to burn it onto a cd, wanna listen to it on your computer, buy another license, wanna let your friend listen to it? Buy another license! (I know this isn’t how iTunes works, but it would be if the RIAA had their way).

          The thing about buying a license is, if you bought a license, they have to replace it for free, so that cd you aren’t allowed to copy, wears out after a few years, they have to replace the cd with a new one at no cost to you. RIAA wants it both ways, you bought a license and you do not own the song, no replacement, we’re suing you!

          I’m doing a horrible job of explaining it, but you get the point.

  26. Acolyte says:

    I for one used to buy comics but when I began to run out of space, quality plunged and prices went up; I moved on. I do however read comics via torrents (yeah judge away) and what I think is that more of the publishers should consider non-flash based avenues for selling their comics online.
    Yes I know you can pay and read online but that just doesn’t do it for me. Anyway the market shall dictate the changes that will go on but $3.99 is waaaaaaaaaaay too much to pay for a single comic.

  27. John Smith says:

    Some comics have been $3.99 for a while now.

    For those of you who would be interested in catching up on older comics from the past several years, here are two ways to go about acquiring them.
    1. Like movies and music, you can find them on torrent sites.
    2. You can search for them using Google. Look for .cbr and .cbz files.

    Enjoy

  28. mbz32190 says:

    I honestly had no idea comic books we’re still being printed on a large scale, besides like Mad Magazine.

  29. donopolis says:

    They started slashing their own throat many moons ago when they to direct market instead of having comics placed at just about every store under the sun…The set their readership at a certain level to never grow again…if you only aim your work at current readers, where do the new ones come from?

    They then stopped writing all ages comics…because ultraviolence and cussing is KEWL and so much more mature.

    The best stuff being produced today is the Marvel Adventures line and it is aimed at all ages and available in 7-11…what a concept!

    I have heard the argument about “Kids don’t read!” and I call BS, the 10-16 market is THE powerhouse market segment in the world of Book publishing…

    The audience for well written Comicbooks should be self-renewing as the kids who read it grow out of it the new kids grow into it, and the adults who GET what superheros are supposed to be about will stick around while the self-indulgent FANBOYS can go collect dolls.

    D-

  30. Garrick Greathouse says:

    If your comics are only taking you 10 minutes to read, then you’re reading the wrong comics your reading. Try something like Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman, or Glamourpuss by Dave Sim.

    And yes, softcover trades are the way to go, and many online retailers offer deep discounts on them. I would still rather pay $3.99 for a single issue of Terry Moore’s Echo than some Starbucks sugar/coffee sludge.

  31. fuzzymuffins says:

    sigh … i stopped buying comics when they hit $1.25 and ‘special foil bagged editions’ became a joke. i fondly remember in elementary school when comics proudly stated

    “STILL ONLY 25 CENTS”

    as for ‘torrented’ comics…. i have a nearly solid spider-man collection from 1964 to 1995. having digital copies makes it convenient to read on the go … BUT there is STILL no substitute for the real book in your hands. especially when the digital copies and reprints don’t have the old ads and promos (xray glasses! saturday morning cartoon schedules! bulpen bulletins!)

  32. ccbweb says:

    If you’re only reading it, you’re not really making use of the whole medium, right? I’m not trying to preach the religion of comic books; I collected them when I was a teenager and stopped when I was no longer a teenager (though that was coincidental…I needed the money for rent). I’ve purchased maybe two comic books in the last 10 years. They were never just about reading through them in 10 minutes, though. There’s art and drawing and stuff, too.

  33. Matthew Lee High says:

    Quote: “I don’t want to see comics die. But I, like many, am afraid that forking over $3.99 for what essentially amounts to 10 minutes of reading pleasure (at best) simply isn’t a sound decision.”

    My reply: If you’re only getting 10 minutes worth of enjoyment out of a comic book, then you’re buying the wrong comic books. There’s plenty of comics that can give you many times that much enjoyment for the price (just check out what’s available at Fantagraphics, Drawn and Quarterly, Top Shelf Books, SLG Books, for starters.) Stop buying crap and make better reading/buying decisions.

  34. Saboth says:

    I stopped collecting when they went up to about .250 per issue. Now I just wait for TPB, and can collect whole story arcs (usually 5-10 comics) for about $11-$15 (amazon).

  35. Matthew Lee High says:

    In 1997, the average cover price of comic books was $2.44 (weighted by orders, so higher-selling lower-priced comics count more than lower-selling higher-priced comics). With inflation over the past 10 years, that works out to…$3.23 in 2008 dollars ([data.bls.gov])

    And guess what the average cover price of comic books was in 2008? $3.23. Looks like the price of comic books is keeping up *exactly* with the cost of inflation.

    Lots of stats at the perfectly cromulent comic-stat website by John Jackson Miller ([www.comichron.com])

  36. vdragonmpc says:

    Actually people should look into what happened to WaRP graphics back when they published comics. Richard Pini actually posted about it when they decided to no longer print in the comic format and go strictly graphic novel. He talked about how there were only so many print houses and that many publishers were getting run out of business through collusion. But hey its only comic books so who cared about it?

    Now we have paperback books that cost 14$ and Hardbacks going through the roof. (never noticing the 80% off sales when they dont sell at the insane price)

    Comic books have been fading a lot mainly due to graphic novels and the ‘ebay effect’ far too many ‘collectors editions’ sell for nothing on fleabay. Why buy one comic when you can get the whole collection for 100$ shipped of 300 books? Heck I got several myself a while back to fill in holes. Now Im looking slowly at the other ways to check on the titles.

    By the way: How is reading a torrent different from reading it in Barnes and noble and not buying it?

    • Anonymous says:

      @vdragonmpc: One difference is that when you torrent comics, you don’t just read without paying, you also distribute the work, making it even easier for everyone else to read without paying.

  37. trujunglist says:

    Just yesterday I decided to finally, after 14 years of purchasing at the same store, to cancel my subscriptions to all of the titles I’ve been reading for.. forever now. The price is just ridiculous for something that loses 99% of its value literally the second it leaves the comic store. They are absolutely worthless. For some reason, I felt the urge to keep going, but after reading some of the more recent stories and not being able to truly figure out what is going on in any storyline because of the constant multi-book story arcs(I refuse to buy titles that are complete crap just to complete an arc), I couldn’t take it anymore. Why would I bother paying $3 (now $4??? WTF, these things are quite literally WORTHLESS, they should go back to the $.99 price if even that) to read a story that is like 1/40th complete and I will maybe eventually get 14/40 of those stories? It’s truly a bag of bullshit.
    Now if only older issues would somehow all go up to $4 each at minimum. I’d be lucky to sell 100 issues of some of the comics I have for $4 total. Anyone want to stop buying new comics for $4 a pop and start buying old comics at $2 a pop from me? They’re better written and will totally give you nostalgia! Plus, most of the time you won’t have to worry about degrading the condition from NM since most older comics are not in the upper 9s! Let’s work it out in PM!

    • Saboth says:

      @trujunglist:

      I’m with you… go back to the newsprint paper, and get rid of the flashy holograms, slick covers and computerized inking or whatever they do, and make them $1 apiece again.

      • b.k. says:

        @Saboth: Agreed. Most comic book publishers make money on their comic books, they’re not (exclusively) in the business of publishing trade paperbacks or graphic novels. But if I could read an entire run of a story for $1 an issue, I would then fork over $15 or $20 for a TPB with glossy pages and beautifully printed covers if I loved the run enough. If not, they’re still getting my money for the floppies.

        On another note, this business of crossover storylines totally backfires with me. If I see I’m going to have to buy issues on another title I don’t normally read in order to get the “whole story” — forget it. I’m gonna wait for trade. (And most probably, check it out of the library first to see if it’s even worth owning.)

  38. zacwax says:

    I wouldn’t have a problem with the price hike if the artists and authors were actually getting a bigger piece of the pie.

  39. cubsd says:

    Comics are your worst entertainment value.

  40. dvdchris says:

    Trade paperbacks seem to be where the industry is headed; I have seen comic book stores stop carrying back issues altogether-they sell individual issues up to a month old or so-and LOTS of trade paperbacks.
    In the mid 90s, a popular title would have a million copy print run; now, a very popular book has a printing of 250,000.

  41. savdavid says:

    Why do prices go UP in a recession? People have less money to spend, demand is down so……there must be something I am missing here.

    • SexCpotatoes says:

      @savdavid: Simple answer: The Treasury. They print up more and more money, devaluing it. So let’s say there are eleventy billion dollars in existence, and they decide to double the supply of money, so twenty-two-tivity billions of dollars printed, so fast, that now, each dollar is only worth 1/2 what it used to be, and since we reckon all our prices in dollars, the prices go up, otherwise, it would be a 50-cent bill or whatever, the value would fluctuate. That’s what you’re missing.

  42. Louie Colon says:

    I remember when comics were 1.25-1.75… at least there was some chance of it apreciating in value if it was a good find… at 3.99 im not so sure some of these can appreciate to anything worth collecting comics over…

  43. The_IT_Crone says:

    I couldn’t afford them as a kid, so I read them at the public library.

    I still can’t afford them, and no longer have the time to always stop by the library (so they even HAVE them there anymore?).

    Bow, Whiff, ZAP!

  44. The_IT_Crone says:

    I don’t mean to double-post but:

    THIS here is why I buy my comics in electronic form. The ENTIRE SERIES of Spider-man on CD was like $20.

  45. Ecks says:

    I’m Canadian, so not only are prices going up 33% for the $3 to $4 increase, tack on another 25% because of the exchange rate currently. Prices have changed so much recently they took the Canadian price right off the comics!

    I’m not happy about them going to $3.99, but if they need the money, what can you do? I wish more people BOUGHT comics, as selling 30,000 copies of your average Marvel book is not a lot.

  46. Demonbird says:

    I am a lifetime comic fan and collector… and 6 months ago I quite buying comics. I just couldn’t take the bad stories, massive amount of tie ins, and rising book prices anymore.

  47. kyle4 says:

    Four years ago in Canada they used to be $4.25, then Marvel lowered them to $3.75, then $3.50. Now it was back up to $3.75, now $4.00 Not that bad in the end.

  48. ageshin says:

    when I was a kid comic books cost $.10 a pop. I did not buy them to collect, but to read. The price increased over the years, but the real shift was two fold. One they became dominated by people who wanted to collect them,and two the comics were no longer for kids. I think that the modern comic book is pricing itself out of a mass market.I would rather toss in a few more bucks and buy a real book.

  49. Imaginary says:

    The point is comics should be good reading! When you buy a novel you don’t think of how much it’s going to be worth in thirty years do you? Comics are not an investment, comics are entertainment. You shouldn’t worry about their value as they leave the “lot”. The value is in the reading. I dropped almost all of my Marvel and DC titles in favor of more independent titles that appealed to me on more levels than just;
    1. What is the future value
    2. Which characters are in it
    The excuse of “I use to read comics then I grew up” is lame (in that it can’t stand any longer), because comics have grown up too. Yes even the big two, the aforementioned Marvel and DC, but there are many many comic book companies vying for your attentions. Many offer much more intellectual, quirky and fun stories. It is the job of the big two to keep an influx of as many new customers as possible to it’s hard for them to change their characters that’s why it seems that you outgrew them. As for the hike in cost, if you like it buy it don’t try to justify it with speculated future value. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. That’s how you speak to a company, with money not whiny rants about how you’re boxes and boxes of old comics aren’t worth anything. They are worth something to someone. Give them away if they are so worthless, let someone else discover their worth.

  50. CyberSkull says:

    I buy mostly trade paperbacks these days except for the series that aren’t likely to make it to trade (I’m looking at you DC!).

  51. Anonymous says:

    There are many problems in the comic book industry. Mostly the biggest problem is greed by the big publishers. Artists (inkers, letterers, and the artistic staff, too) don’t make much unless they are famous.
    Comic book distribution is entirely handled by DIAMOND Comics. They can make money because of scale. Start reading at http://www.milehighcomics.com/tales/cbg118.html. Incidentally, Diamond also controls a significant portion of the role-playing game industry, although Wizards of the Coast and some other companies such as Games Workshop have direct to store divisions.

    Now dedicated comic book retailers are in this loop somewhere. This is the “direct” market, where you go to a dedicated comic book retail store. This is the store you can buy your bags, and backs, and all the other things that go into collecting comics like price guides and boxes and back issues. The retailer faces challenges that most customers can’t see.

    First, retailers have to order their comic books at least 3 months in advance. This is where “Previews” comes in. Previews contains all the information marketed to retailers about the comic books they are buying in 3 months. Sometimes the descriptions are good, most of the time they aren’t. The comic book company pays for ads in this book just like in any other magazine. (of course they pay in discounts for product or other terms, not money) This 3 month order gap means that the comic book store has to plan 3 months ahead of the economy, meet the other sales goals of the distributor (more below) and then repeat the cycle. You also have a minimum order amount.

    Second, once you order the comics, you have no idea when or even if the comics will ever show up. you are entirely at the whim of the publisher and the distributor to not have writer’s block, the ability to count, and the ability to place your comics in a box and ship them to you to have them arrive on your designated arrival day.

    Third, the order will come in either COD or will automatically be billed to a credit card. How many of you could take an unknown credit card charge every week? It is generally much easier and safer to pay cash, you can’t get behind on your cash payment. If you are good for a while they may change your terms to “Net zero” which means that when you get the order you cut them a check, which saves on cod fees.

    Fourth, your random sized order will usually not qualify for free shipping, using whatever calculation they choose today. That’s business overhead.

    Fifth, the overall discount from retail that your comic shop gets is determined by the volume of comics you ordered from Diamond for the month you ordered it from. This is calculated by Diamond, and while usually you can guess about what discount you will have, it’s up to them to get it right. Plus, all the sundry non-comic stuff like action figs, cards, boxes, etc each have their own discount rates. Since you don’t have much notice as to when things will arrive, and you don’t know how much you will be charged for them, then your weekly comic bill and comic profit will fluctuate wildly.

    Sixth, 80% or more of your comic book churn is made in the 2 days immediately following delivery. If you are lucky and planned things out (and your customers haven’t paid with a credit/debit card to further eat into your profit) then you have covered the basic operating expenses of running a comic book shop. The next step of course is profit.

    Seventh, there is NO seventh step.

    Eighth, you have to also pay all of your overhead, such as rent, staff, the dreaded credit card fees, new computers to track your stuff, new front windows to replace the ones your loyal customers tossed a brick through, and on and on. I know of very few companies that make money through comics, and all of them do it through volume, not customer service.

    Finally, remember all those loyal customers who want their subscriptions bagged and backed, and a discount for their continued business? well, until you are ordering SIGNIFICANT comics, the biggest discount you’ll see on them is 35% off retail. This means your gross profit on a 3.99 comic is 1.39. Minus 10 cents for the bag and back. Minus the shipping cost, minus cc charges (which is a minimum of .25) and minus the time you put in over the course of 3 months to order the comic, check the order, prepare the display space, etc. and for each comic you might clear 50 cents before your “non order associated overhead.” Now the customer wants something for being a loyal customer. so you offer them 5 percent off. that’s .20 more.

    So you just spent 3 months of hassle for maybe 20 cents profit. Congratulations, and welcome to direct comic book sales.

  52. Angryrider says:

    Man, if comics here were printed like in Japan. Phonebook sized with the paper quality comparable to newspapers.

  53. Skybolt says:

    There are a lot of very sophisticated and challenging superhero stories now that would not have been produced 25 years ago. At the same time, there are also a lot of stories that are just explicit “modernized” retellings of plot ideas that Stan Lee created during the sixties. Comics seem to have trouble staying on schedule these days, and DC and Marvel are endlessly releasing these special event crossover things that repeat concepts from the eighties.

    I think $3.99 is too much for a single comic book unless it has no ads and doesn’t suck. When I started reading comics as a child, they were 45 cents. When I was 17 or 18, they were 60 cents or maybe 75. I buy a few trade paperbacks a year, and I think those are overpriced too, but not as overpriced as a single ad-stuffed issue for $3.99.

  54. Natalie Rodriguez says:

    I admit, I still buy comics. Only a select few, though, and only those characters and titles I adore. Spiderman won’t stop printing if I don’t buy his comic. But Deadpool might, so I buy his.

    But yeah, overall? Buy trades. Much better use of your money.

  55. Brunette Bookworm says:

    @Rob Weddle: Yeah, by the time I was a teenager I was reading more the Sandman and Crow comics. I still read some Marvel stuff but had moved on, especially after I had to buy so many X-titles to get the whole story and I couldn’t afford all of them then!

    Look how much magazines cost and how much of them are advertising. At least with comics you get a story that you can go back and read again, magazines have a shorter life span.

  56. springboks says:

    Print media is dying. Wired magazine at 80cents is struggling. There was a recent article about Playboy magazine drowning. Sorry there’s more and arguably better adult material on the web than Playboy.

    Obviously the folks at Consumer Reports have caught on with this fine blog (the consumerist).

  57. Michael A. Diaz says:

    Things go up in price, there’s no question, but like any other customer I would prefer creep as well. I understand that comics are no longer painted on newsprint and have better and more varied colors, and I like all of that, but a 30% jump in two years? Sounds a bit like price gouging.

    Look at things like CD sales. Sure, things have declined, people just aren’t buying music like they used to, but the music industry has adjusted how they make money. They’re getting more of a cut from tours, merchandising, and licensing.

    Personally, I think Marvel/DC should focus their efforts into licensing and/or film-making. Use the comics as a loss-leader while making the real bank on (hopefully) successful films. Look how much IRON MAN pulled in.

    So, all of that said, $3.99 is a steep jump for me and as I type this I’ve already started to cull my weekly Pull List. I hope Marve/DC can take a hint.

  58. baokhangluu says:

    Increasing prices is not exactly a bad thing. The cousins of comics books, printed magaziness, are going through rough times with decreasing numbers of subscribers and buyers. This extends even to their online presence. Their problem is that people don’t want to pay for information that they can get online for free.

    One solution they’ve come up with in the industry is to offer periodicals at even higher prices. It is true that this will drive away potential buyers, but it also reinforces the value of the product. Even in a recession the brand must be protected ([bit.ly]). Lowering the price or a product can be detrimental in that it lowers the value of the brand.

    Luckily, comic books are best read in print (this is a debate that can be expound elswhere). We don’t have to worry about a shift in this industry’s paradigm. But the glut of the 1990’s comic book explosion and speculation brought so many arguably bad comics. Hopefully, with our decreased buying power as consumers we’ll help the comic book industry shed more of it’s 1990’s fat. Raise the price. Cut the crappy titles. Build the brand and flagship titles.

    Personally, I don’t like paying for $4 comic books, but I’m loyal enough and value them enough to be willing to shell out…every once in a while.