I’ve written about the tactics used by comic book publishers to get more and more of their readers’ comic spending dollars, so much so that you’d think I wouldn’t have anything new to write about on the subject, but leave it to the Big 2 to outdo themselves yet again when it comes to pilfering our hard-earned money through the tried and true event comics, weekly releases, and the new tactic I like to call “release date manipulation”. Now, I know history always repeats itself, and we’ve seen this all before in the past, but all together is enough to bust a bank and sets one hell of a precedent.
We’ve been dealing with many of these sorts of money grabbing tactics for quite some time, including event tie-in overload and increased prices for many books. Although Marvel Comics has been releasing the majority of their titles at $3.99 for quite some time, it still throws the occasional $2.99 book at readers, but has also been known to release $4.99 books here and there, albeit with some extra pages added.
DC has done the same thing with their events recently with Forever Evil and their long list of character-centric events that tied-in in all sorts of ways, but DC Comics made a promise of “Drawing the Line at $2.99!” in reply to Marvel’s book increase, but quickly followed suit with their competitor by adding a ton of books at $3.99, and even tossing in an extra-sized Batman or other popular title at $4.99, again, with some added extra panels or other goodies.
But there’s been some new things added to the mix that not only combines the elements of previous tactics, but ignores the established…no, the RE-established trends in pricing, and it’s enough to drive a comic fan insane, and will surely make him poor.
DC’s Tactics: The Weekly Lack of Cover Shock
DC may have a bunch of good titles at a $2.99 cover price, but the publisher is hitting readers up 4 or even 5 times a month with a single book. Futures End, Batman Eternal, and the upcoming Earth 2: World’s End are all really fun, or look really fun, and at only 3 bucks they’re great buys…unless you count in the fact that you have to buy so many a month. DC is hitting readers with quantity of paper and not quantity in price, but the overall outcome is me spending more cash on comics in a given month just to read a single title, and that’s the overarching problem. But Marvel Comics is even worse.
Marvel’s Tactics: Release Often and Raise Prices
Marvel has recently decided to release their event books twice monthly instead of once a month, and the move has actually been pretty cool. The event is over faster, and it’s only 2 extra books a month, which is alright as long as the event moves along, but a twice monthly release tends to help that. But, the recent solicits for Marvel’s upcoming AXIS crossover event call for a 3 times a month release schedule, and that’s way too much to add to a pull-list on a budget without something getting the boot. But the events aren’t the only culprits…well, it’s kind of an event.
The Death of Wolverine series is a weekly comic, and it has a cover price of $4.99, while the upcoming Time Runs Out story running through Avengers and New Avengers may not be weekly (it’s once and twice a month respectively) there will be $4.99 issues. While the Avengers event titles give readers some extra bang for their buck, the Wolverine event issues are regular size. *UPDATE:The last two issues of the 4-issue mini series The Death of Wolverine have been pushed back two weeks.*
The Math and the Bad News
Let’s just say that I’m buying nothing but DC weeklies and 2 Marvel events that are in-line with the ones currently going on that I’ve highlighted above. That’s 3 weeklies at 3 bucks, 3 event books a month at $3.99, and one weekly event book at $4.99, for a grand total of $68 a month, reading only 4 titles. No tie-ins; no traditional monthlies; no indie books; no nothing else. So what’s a comic reader on a budget to do? The answer is simultaneously easy and difficult: You just don’t read ’em!
You Speak with Your Dollars
If you’re like me and hate these new trends and tactics used by comic book publishers to raise monthly sales in that continuing battle of Marvel vs. DC, then there’s only one way to let them know how much you detest them: Don’t buy what they are selling! Sure, you may miss out on some grandiose event du jour or not have that clean run of a comic book title, but what you will gain is the knowledge that you’ve stood your ground and you refuse to have your wallet done asunder by the creative greed of PR suits and editorial mongers who can’t see past a bottom-line.