A Slice of Fried Gold

Superman vs. Inflation

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Action Comics #1

For the longest time, my friend Pat who works at Bosco's (my friendly neighborhood comic book joint) has said that comics will be hitting $3.99 sooner rather than later. With the way the economy is going and the fact that customers still purchase comics (when they're special of course) at the $3.99 price point, it really could be any day when the jump hits.

I figured, no way could this happen of course. The comic book industry throughout my life has taken moderate jumps, not huge jumps like that. $1 to $1.25. $1.25 to $1.50. $1.50 to $1.99. Things of that sort. That would be a jump of a whole dollar, increasing the price by a third of the existing amount. I could see a jump to $3.50, but $3.99? That's absurd. Think about all of the things you can get for $3.99?

  • 3 gallons of gas (if you live somewhere besides Alaska...damn Alaska)
  • A gallon of milk (in Alaska, I have no idea how much it is in places that forcibly try to curb my milk habit)
  • 4 songs on iTunes
  • Almost an entire half special at Benny's Taco Wagon
  • Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy at Title Wave, plus have enough left over for a hot chocolate from Kaladi's to drink while reading
Needless to say my response was most often "surrrreeeeee Pat. Sure." as I cheerily purchased my massive stack of books. They'd never boost comics by a dollar in a bad economy. No way!

April 2009 solicits just came out from Diamond Comic Distributions, and sure enough? A lot of the big books have made the leap to $3.99. Not all of them, but an attention getting percentage and most books that are deemed must buys. That's how they get you - "hey David...look at me. I'm awesome, you can't not get me." It's right too, so I do that. Next thing you know a slightly less awesome book moves up, and then another, and then another, and then next thing you know I'm paying $3.99 for Brave and the Bold (a lower tier comic that my mom and sister merrily pointed out - repeatedly - sounds like a daytime soap opera).

Well you know what comic industry? I've been looking to drop some books. You bump it to $3.99, sayanora title, I'm going to start trade waiting. Sure I'm impatient when it comes to comic books, but I'm not stupid. I have no problem saving $1.50 an issue if I have to wait 6 months longer.

The most amazing thing is that for the most part, comics are an industry that is in serious pain. The industries top books sell 1/8th of what they did as recently as 1990, the movies about the characters have not infused any titles with sudden sales rushes, and overall, while the quality is higher than it's ever been, issue by issue buzz is nowhere near P.F.C. (pre foil covers - aka before stupid, cheesy foil covers almost ruined the industry in the 90's).

Especially as a person who spent a few years of his life learning the ins and outs of business, I have to wonder what signs the big 2 have seen that indicate sales won't plummet after this increase. I don't really have any answers, but I really have to admit, I miss the days of $1 comics.


sheri said...

math nerd in me must point out that that 1.50 to 1.99 is the same increase percentage-wise as 3.00 to 3.99

also.. where can 3.99 get you three gallons?! 2 gallons here anyway.

i can't comment on comic books since i know nothing, but i will happily tear apart the minute details of your post. that's how awesome i am.

sam said...

mmmmmmmmm.......benny's taco wagon

David Harper said...

Yeah, I knew someone would catch that price increase being the same percentage, but to be fair, there are two differences in this case:

Some comics were bumped to $1.75 for a time before $1.99.

$1.99 wasn't that long ago - $3 since! Ridiculous!

You can get 3 gallons Idaho/Montana for $3.99. Their gas is $1.33. Suck on that.

Also, Benny's Taco Wagon is in fact delicious.

Troy Olson said...

Yeah -- it's not the amount that they've gone up, but more the fact of how fast they've continued to increase the price.

The funny thing is, for the most part you can get the collected edition of any 6-issue storyline for $19.99 (list price -- you can get it for less on places like Amazon). Yet, six issues at $3.99 each cost almost $24. The math just doesn't add up...

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