Posted byat 9th February, 2009
The big announcement at last weekend’s New York Comic Con was DC’s raising their price to $3.99, except for those titles that will be $4.50. You know, the smaller circulation stuff like Vertigo and those titles they’re about to cancel.
That’s not how it’s supposed to work. In a depression, supply goes up as demand goes down. We’re in a depression (just ask the folks at Mad Magazine), but DC is violating this most basic law of capitalism. Therefore, by raising its prices DC is showing its true communist leanings. Tsk, tsk.
What does it cost to follow a reasonable number of DC Universe titles? Nowadays, given the massively amusing (perhaps not in the way they intended) perpetual pseudo-events like Final Crisis, if you don’t have about $100 a month to spend on four hours of what you hope to be entertainment, you’re going to be twisting in the winds of multi-tracked contradictory continuity. At best. Maybe you’re going to be spending your money on other things. Perhaps health insurance. Or food.
Yes, I know. Marvel Comics has slowly and quietly raised the cover price on most of its books to $3.99, and most of their top titles are all at that price point. That’s true. But here’s the lesson DC management and DC’s hardcore fans have never, ever learned: DC Comics is not Marvel Comics. You might think they’re better and that’s swell, but that’s your opinion. The marketplace has told us loudly and clearly that the top selling regularly published comic books have been from the House of Idea for the better part of 40 years.
OK. So perhaps we can now formally admit that the 32-page pamphlet is held in the same esteem as that lady who just Jiffy-Popped babies 7 through 14. It’s a loss leader for the trade paperbacks, and in the case of the “major” publishers, the trades are all too often loss leaders for their media and merchandising efforts.
If the comics shop owners are lucky enough to maintain the same dollar volume, they’ll make do. Maybe. But that assumes a lot, particularly in a depression. And each issue that they’re stuck with creates a bigger stain on their balance sheet. They’ve got to figure out how to compete with the big box bookstores and online sales companies with little help from the publishers. Good luck with that; we can see what happened to the other independent booksellers.
Comics aren’t dead, and right now at least, neither is comic book publishing. I sure hope Borders doesn’t go out of business, or Books-A-Million or Barnes and Noble. But that versatile pamphlet that you can hide in your textbook or read on the toilet… it’s a goner. At these prices, they simply aren’t worth it.
As George Harrison said to the Beatlemaniacs and Tonto said to the Lone Ranger, all things must pass.
Some of these sentiments, in completely different yet equally witty language, appear in Monday’s Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind on The Point rant, with swell musical accompaniment from Pink Floyd, the Beatles, The Who, and Frank Zappa. And remember, Mike’s Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mind blatherings can be heard every Monday and Friday on The Point podcasts, available right here at www.michaeldavisworld.com, as well as at getthepointradio.com, comicmix.com, zzcomics.com, and ravenwolfstudios.com. You can subscribe to The Point at iTunes by searching under “The Point Radio.”