comic books superheroes

Are You Ready to Pay $3.99 Per Monthly Comic?

In case you hadn’t noticed, the price of your monthly comics has been creeping up.  For the past few years, monthly comics from Marvel & DC have cost $2.99 each.  Rumors have been floating around about a price increase on the horizon.  Well, Marvel is starting to move up.  For example, both New Avengers and Dark Avengers are already priced at $3.99 with no additional pages added.  Most of Marvel’s new limited series are also priced at $3.99.  Both companies have been using the $3.99 price for a while on extra-sized comics (usually with an additional 8-pages), but the 22-page comics had remained $2.99 until now.  It’s worth noting that only Marvel has announced the price increase on 22-page comics at this time.  But don’t be fooled, both companies tend to match prices. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until DC catches up.

Just a couple quick thoughts about this price increase:

  • I realize that paper prices are increasing.  I deal with the increasing expense of paper every day in my job.  However, did Marvel really need to raise the price a whole dollar?  Couldn’t they have just gone to $3.25 or even $3.50?  $3.99 is a lot to pay for 22 pages of story – that’s 18 cents per page.  It’s quite possible Marvel has exceeded the threshold people are willing to pay for a monthly comic.
  • Marvel is being inconsistent about the price increase.  Some 22-page comics remain $2.99, while others have been moved up to $3.99.  The only 22-page monthly comics at $3.99 so far are: Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Spider-Woman, Hulk, and Punisher (Max series). Why the difference in pricing?  Why is one comic more expensive than another?  Are they charging more for Bendis comics because they can get away with it?

Just a quick history lesson on price increases.  Here are the past few price increases, showing how much of an increase and when they happened.  I used Uncanny X-Men cover dates for this example:

  • June 2000 went from $1.99 to $2.25
  • August 2005 went from $2.25 to $2.50
  • June 2006 went from $2.50 to $2.99

Some people have suggested that the “Big Two” should just drop the monthly comics and move to a trade paperback-only industry.  While that’s an interesting thought, neither of the “Big Two” is currently structured in such a way to support change like this.  From what I’ve heard, the monthly comics are paying the bills, while the trade industry is where the profit is.  As it stands right now, they can’t afford to pay their bills without the monthlies.

While only a handful of regular-sized comics are $3.99, it’s likely that Marvel & DC will begin to price all their regular-sized comics at that price.  So you gotta ask yourself, is $3.99 too much to pay for monthly 22-page comic?  I’m starting to think it might be.

15 thoughts on “Are You Ready to Pay $3.99 Per Monthly Comic?

  1. I’ve dropped nearly all my monthly Marvel titles (they’ve helped by axing several of the Ultimate titles anyway) and have moved primarily to DC. If they do follow Marvel’s lead, then I guess I’ll just have to cut my monthly pull list even further… which then impacts on the shop I order them from!

  2. Bottom line is that if Marvel OR DC stopped or reduced their monthly titles, comic bookstores would not be able to survive. Comic stores have to have that weekly money fix which fills up the bank account to pay for the next weeks comics. So if they went to just graphic novels, the only place you would be able to get them will be the major bookstores and Amazon. And I do not see your average comic book fan going to Borders to get their Avengers fix, one book every 4 to 6 months.
    Marvel and DC both could save HUGE amounts of money by getting their offices out of New York. That in itself sucks money from their accounts, and they do not need to be there to do what they do.

  3. N Stacey – You make some very valid points. You are correct about Marvel and DC leaving New York. Many companies are leaving New York just to stay profitable.

    Thanks for the comments!

  4. I work for a grocery wholesaler’s advertising department and paper prices have been going up for a while. We’ve pushed it off and eaten some of the cost, but eventually every company has to turn the cost over to the consumer.

    Marvel probably held back so long that the increase of a dollar was needed. We probably would have seen gradual increases over the past couple years as the price started to go up instead of it all at once, but that’s the way they chose to do it.

  5. I think that $3.99 is too much to pay for a comic book. I’ve already dropped several Marvel titles because of the price change. I may even drop more.

  6. People can drop comics because of the price, but unless you email Marvel and let them know that you are doing so because of price increases they will not know. So write the heads of Marvel and DC letting them know you cannot afford price increases especially at this time.
    Tell people you are unhappy especially when you want to continue using their service. People sometimes will listen and make changes. We tend to complain but only to our friends, not to whom we need to complain to.

  7. Perhaps an online petition is called for? This might have the added bonus of generating some media interest – rather than, as you quite rightly say, just all us geeks moaning to each other but not taking any positive action!

  8. Yeah, I’ve been dropping titles for the past two years, mostly DC. If a line is good, I pick up the TPB (if it is released). If prices increase, I will drop more titles.
    But Mr. Stacey is correct. It may be time comic book lovers unite and raise our voices so that the “big guys” up there will hear us.
    Acrobatic Flea has a good idea in starting a petition. Maybe even a web site or something promoting the cause.
    I doubt DC or Marvel will see much of a decrease if Chaco and I start dropping titles, but I bet they would if a lot more of us do. Maybe a strike or boycott by all the comic book buyers for a couple weeks will get their attention? The only issue with this is the middle-man, comic book stores, would suffer the most.

  9. All this has done is make me much more discriminating about what goes into my file. I’ve dropped several so-so comics, and I am doing less “this looks cool” impulse buying off the rack. I am aware of how paper prices affect the bottom line, but that extra dollar adds up if you’re buying several at a time. That being said, if the story is good, I don’t feel cheated.

  10. I keep hearing how Marvel has to up their prices to remain profitable, but yet all I hear is them signing creators to exclusive contracts. Perhaps they should ease up in the exclusives instead of making me pay a dollar more for stories that written for the trade anyway. It goes against my nature, but I think trades is where I will start doing most of my reading.

    And I agree with the comment about Marvel and DC leaving New York. I have no idea how any company makes any profit in that city.

  11. I recall when Star Wars #1 was $.35 – Red Skull is getting old!

    The good news is that there are many prime Marvel back-issues of the 80’s that one can get for less than the cost of a brand new issue!

    The bad news is Red Skull’s wallet hurts!

    Is $3.99 too much to pay? Skull says yes! Skull bought a Doctor Who reprint comic and said “WTF is Skull paying for?” Red Skull thought he would have a cow! Instead, Red Skull had a Red Bull.

    Growing up an unearthly child, Red Skull long languished in lonely lassitude, fighting the melancholia that afflicts all beings of supreme evil. However, comics provided a succor of sweet solace. Need a reason to go on living? How about that X-Men cliffhanger ending that needs resolving? That’ll keep you going month to month! Throw in the other X-titles and you are pulled week to week through life! Is $3.99 too much for THAT? Now substitute a comic series that still makes sense when you read it and whose continuity you can explain with a straight face!

    Though the Red Skull gave up collecting long ago, Skull still appreciates the neglected genius of the comic: the possibility of great art and taut storytelling, and you can listen to your music collection at the same time!


  12. $3.99 is more than many newsstand magazines. Entertainment Weekly is, I think, $3.25. But you can get it for $.59 delivered to your house if you subscribe!?!?! Can an issue of Spider-Man cost more to produce than a mag with dozens of writers, photographers, editors, graphic designers, etc.? Sure, their circulation is 10 to 100 times greater than even the top funny books, so they get a great economy of scale. The real money is in advertising.

    Some people might not like more ads in comics, but that could be the way to go to keep the cover price down. I also wonder, when advertisers buy ads from, say, Marvel, do they buy them for all books or can they pick and pay different rates for different mags. The demographics are prob mostly the same, but maybe not. You’d think a top selling book would command a higher ad price than a lower seller.

    Hmm, I may have to do some research. . .

  13. Every time the price has gone up, people have pointed out that the ‘threshold’ has been broken, that comics sales will fall into the crapper, and it’ll be the end of all that we have known. I’m long in the tooth and have been collecting and reading regularly since 1966. Don’t recall the 10¢ to 12¢ hike, but I remember seeing the ads in a 1968 DC comic that said 15¢ and I remember being rather shocked.

    Back in the day, when money was sparse and I was a student or newly living on my own, comics came first (other than getting laid, but that’s another story) and I’d eschew food or gas for that.

    As I grew older, had kids, and my tastes in comics changed and, yeah…grew jaded a bit, I bought fewer and fewer comics. Nowadays, most of the comics that I actually buy each month are $3.99 or $3.50; very few of the standard Marvel or DC books (Jonah Hex and a few mini-series). I don’t really notice price too much so, for this fellow (me) who is working two part-time jobs to keep a son in college and meet his part of the household expenses, it’s a tight thing…but I still buy whatever comics I want to, regardless of price.

    Not that price doesn’t affect my choices–but like many others, there is no such thing as a ‘casual purchase’ anymore. Folks will look at their monthly list of comics and think–hmm; Ms. Marvel at $3.99…I don’t think so!

    Don’t get me wrong–I think that there are lots of really well-done comics being produced right now…Marvel, DC, and other publishers, but frankly, even Fantastic Four right now and…oh, I dunno…pick your own…I’m not inclined to pay out $2.99 for them, Bryan Hitch art notwithstanding.

    Jonah Hex at $2.99 is still worth it as there aren’t any weestern comics to appreciate out there…Streets of Glory by Ennis was fun…War That Time Forgot (mini) at $2.99 has been a practical waste of money, while Haunted Tank ($2.99) is still proving entertaining.

    People will simply buy fewer books, mainly. Many retailers report these days (conventional wisdom) that while tracking the ‘pamphlet’ sales vs the trade paperback sales–their sales of TPBs has overshadowed their monthly comic single issue sales.

    It’s a gradual thing, but I’ve seen the comic book industry change remarkably in the past 43 years. It’ll become something else while I’m flipping the pages of Jonah Hex #244…well, hopefully.

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