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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Price of Comics

Newsarama reported this week that Marvel and D.C. have upped their prices, once more, increasing all but a few of their $2.25-cover comics to $2.50. This, folks, is a time-bomb for the comics biz. Many believe that fans will continue to pay the increased price to get their comic book fix, no matter where the increases take us. I, however, happen to think that the patience of the average fan is finite, and a giant shake-up, if not the altogether end of the publication of single comic issues, is that much closer.

In the last 30 years, the average cover price for a single issue has risen 1,000 percent OR MORE. What other entertainment medium has experienced such inflation of price? Heck, what other PUBLICATIONS have done so, other than comics? There may be some, but none leap right to mind. Children’s books, perhaps.

Many different reasons for this phenomenon are given by publishers, with improved paper quality, and the general inflation in the cost of paper usually being at the top of the list. For reality’s sake, however, we should include the development of the direct market (taking comic books out of the hands of the average/casual reader) and an ever-shrinking fan base.

I don’t claim to have the answers to the woes of the business, but going back to newsprint, cheaper ink and coloring methods would be a start. As much as the fanboys and girls may screech and scream, do you REALLY think they’ll stop picking up their favorite 4-color pamphlets, just because they’re not all slick and shiny? Not if it resulted in a price drop.