I don't know how much comics cost when I started buying them, but I remember that when I first started collecting, comics were $0.75. A few months back, Marvel comics moved the price point of several of their titles from $2.99 to $3.99 for a 32 page comic. And now DC Comics is following suit. Not on all titles, but the shift to $3.99 has started (I have to partially blame the fact that titles like "Blackest Night", which were priced higher, sold just fine).
In recent years, as DC and Marvel have pushed their mega-narratives to company-wide cross-over events (see DC's "Blackest Night" and Marvel's "Siege"), I had to make a conscious choice to quit following Marvel comics.
This wasn't based upon any Marvel vs. DC complaint, as I had followed Captain America, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Black Panther and many other titles since the mid-80's (I have a continuous run of Uncanny X-men from issue 168-320, for chrissake). Even prior to Marvel raising its prices, the sheer volume of comics a buyer had to pick up to follow a storyline went through the roof, and not for a short summer event. These events lasted the better part of a year.
So around issue #3 of Marvel's "Secret Invasion", I realized I was both (a) not terribly interested in the story and (b) did not want to spend the money to follow the storyline.
So Monday night I began sorting through several months of comics and discovered that of a stack of comics that was quite literally 2 - 2.5 feet high, I had purchased 2 "floppies" from Marvel during that time. Yes, I had purchased Captain America collections, but the bottom line appears to be that rising costs and the "event" driven nature of the Big 2 of the past few years meant I gave up on one of the companies.
I'm wondering if I'm not the only one.
But now, looking at an increase of 33% in the cost of a single, 32 page comic (most of which have 22 pages of content and 10 of ads, etc...)? It's hard enough to justify the number of comics I read at this point, and I do buy comics from other publishers (it's always been easier to swallow higher prices from smaller publishers as its clear how quickly they can go under). At any rate, as of this month, I'll be dropping another handful of DC titles that have only partially captured my interest. And its that much less likely I'll pick up any new titles from either DC or Marvel.
I have to wonder, exactly, what DC and Marvel think they're doing. I can buy a novel for under $15. Buy a DVD for $8. Download an album for $10 or cheaper. Play a video game for hours and hours for $20 - $50. And I can certainly go look online for illegal scans of comics for no direct cost (although I have serious issues with the practice and don't do it myself). But buying 3 comics shouldn't cost me $12. Or, more accurately, buying material supported by advertising for, really, roughly 22 pages of comics per... its $12 for about 60 pages of material, depending on how many splash pages they toss in.
The price point says nothing healthy about the industry, and demonstrates that DC is unable to think of better cost-cutting measures before passing their costs along to consumers. But with something you read so quickly, and often only once, how to rationalize the cost? And, it seems, the cost of comics is rising faster than almost any known product out there.
The announcement that DC would move to a $4 price point is, for me, problematic...
I'll be reviewing my titles this month. This, alone, could mean I go to trades with Batman books, drop Booster Gold, Doom Patrol and others. And not because I wasn't enjoying them, but they were on my "B" list. I'll not pick up the new "Emerald Warriors" series from DC at all, at least I'll never own it in a floppy format.
I'm absolutely not married to the higher quality paper and technical techniques that both companies switched to in the 90's, and what I suspect are probably overvalued by most in the business. I'd gladly begin looking at digital comics from DC at a lowered price point, and if the entry into an iPad weren't so damn steep.
Yes, I'll continue to pick up Superman comics. That's my thing. But I'd prefer that it not be my only thing. I have a pretty darn considerable collection of Batman and Detective comics, too, and the thought of ending that due to price point is more than a little depressing.
At the end of the day, $3 was high, and $3.50 had been pushing it. At $4... I found my threshold and I'll need to re-evaluate.