Thursday, October 7, 2010

A change in the pattern - I've moved mostly to trades

Earlier today Corpsman PaulT asked me if I liked that DC Comics had decided to drop their prices on all titles to $2.99. There's been a bit of a migration to a higher pricepoint in comics, most recently with Marvel displaying some serious brass ones by charging $3.99 for a standard sized comic. The same kind of comic that I paid $0.75 for when I was first really getting into comics, only in the current mode of "let's put 3 panels per page in a super-decompressed format with four words per page").

In truth, the promise of a $3.99 pricepoint sort of broke me of lots and lots of bad habits. So, while I am thrilled that DC has actually and officially decided to draw the $2.99 pricepoint line in the sand for their standard, floppy, 32-page comic (supplemented with ads, I might note) with 20 pages of content versus 22...  I'm mostly just glad they're holding their prices steady instead of feeling like Marvel's move opened the door for massive and unsustainable price increases.

Here's a story on it all at Newsarama.

Not long ago DC had tried to justify the $3.99 by adding extra pages and back-up stories, with some of those supplementary items better than the feature material (cough...  Detective Comics). And, of course, some of the back-matter was pretty terrible and complicated the purchase (cough...  Metal Men back up feature).  But they'd also recently launched a few standard sized titles at $3.99.  All I know is that I'm more or less DC's main audience, and this summer, at least partially in reaction to the price increases, I gave up regularly reading floppies of everything but Superman titles and Morrison's Batman stuff.

So, yeah, your Erstwhile Comic Opinion-Spewing Scribe will now be about seven months behind what's going on with the DCU while he waits for the collected editions to hit his local comic shop. But (a) it cost about the same to pick up a hardcover edition of the same material if I waited, and that I could put on a shelf or loan out, and (b) in trade paperback, the cost savings seemed just so much more worth, plus... (c) I wasn't reading three issues of a series and spending $9.00 - $12.00 to realize "I really hate this series" and then have three comics just sort of cluttering the place up.

The truth is, the jump from $2.50 or $2.75 to $3.00 was when I abandoned Marvel. I just couldn't afford to keep up with two universes, and Marvel's insistence I read the entire Civil War shenanigans and then roll right into Secret Alien Hostile Takeover or whatever just meant that what should have been a fairly inexpensive hobby became crazily expensive (if you actually wanted to keep up).

Once Marvel jumped prices to $4, I knew the system was just broken, and DC would think they were somehow devaluing their product if they didn't keep up.  Curiously, that's not really been the case, and the experiments they floated this year must have set off some serious alarms.

I'm now watching my comics budget a lot more than I have since high school or maybe my first year or so of college when it was comics or food (sometimes comics won that fight).  I'm not able to afford a weekly comic shop run, and I go looking for back issues upon fairly rare occasions.  I should also add that I'm looking for quality of condition in back-issues these days, too, so that makes the back-issue collecting a bit more expensive, but also more rewarding and fun.*

There was also always the issue that I do bag, board and box comics, and sometimes I'd wind up buying collections so I could get back to those stories without sifting through the dozens of boxes.  I'd been particularly bad about that with Green Lantern, and after Blackest Night saw no reason to own floppies of Green Lantern ever again.**  DC has done a great job with its collected editions (thanks, Bob Harras!), and that means I'll be just fine reading trades of GL, Flash, etc... from now on.  Even Wonder Woman.

I have reduced my Batman floppies intake to Morrison-penned books, and I have a very hard time seeing myself ever giving up on floppies of Superman.   Quitting Batman has been hardest, as my collection reaches back now about 25 years, with major gaps, but... nonetheless.  There's a lot of filler out there with Batman titles, and I prefer to just pick up the stuff that's actually driving the character forward, not just moving Bat-product.

I have also obtained a library card and visited the Austin Public Library, which has an okay collection of comics.  I'm actually headed back tomorrow to return some comics and look to see what's at my local branch rather than the central library.  And there's your civics lesson of the week, Signal Corps.  But, seriously, libraries have been doing pretty well of late in the arena of obtaining graphic novels and collections, as well as books about comics.  I know I saw several books I'll be picking up over the next few months.

But all in all, I've given up the weekly habit.  I do miss Wednesdays at the shop, and trying to read the comics before I read the reviews.  My new habit does mean I'm mostly avoiding reviews of newer comics, except to help me decide if I do want to try a collection (but mostly I just ask CanadianSimon what he thinks, anyway).

So that's the comics news. 

(quick edit:  Here's an article at Newsarama on retailer reaction to the price drop.)

*someday someone is going to wind up with my Superman collection and have no idea what they have on their hands, likely taking it to the garbage dump.  And they'll hear my ghost cursing their name.

**Jamie, by the way, has now read just a massive amount of Green Lantern in a very condensed amount of time by reading my collections.  Next I plan to put her on Morrison's Batman run to see what happens.

1 comment:

RHPT said...

I wished i lived closer so I can just read your comics. The Nashville library does a poor job of getting recent trades into circulation.