Fans and creators alike didn’t react well to the news last week that DC Comics is selling Batman #35, the beginning of the “Endgame” storyline, for $4.99, not $3.99. This announcement was made to comic-book retailers late last month.
Since that book has already been printed, it’s likely that when you arrive in your local comics shop this week, the issue will indeed sell for that higher price. Previously, even with back-up stories, Batman has cost $3.99.
Is this the beginning of a new upward trend in the cost of comics?
WHY IS DC DOING THIS?
On some levels, this change is pure economics.
Each issue of Batman during “Endgame” will contain 30 story pages in a 40-page issue and as such, the cover price will increase from $3.99 to $4.99 for the U.S. Standard Edition and $4.99 to $5.99 for the U.S. Combo Pack edition.
Now, comics these days are always solicited at least two months in advance. That means that this month’s #35, November’s #36 issue, and December’s #37 were solicited with the previous page count and cover price. However, these issues will be made returnable for retailers at a later date.
Your page count is up, you’ve got great talent producing what is being billed as the debut issue of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s next big “pivotal” story arc. Oh, and it is Batman’s 75th anniversary, too!
It is show business, after all.
Retailers weren’t happy about all this because their bill for Batman #35 will be higher than originally expected, with an extra dollar per copy ordered. As previously mentioned, they will be able to return it later, but one has to wonder just how many copies will actually go that route given Batman’s high-selling status.
Many fans were livid. After all, the higher the price on “must have” comics, the fewer books people who live within budgets can afford. Nearly all Marvel issues cost $3.99, so if you’re a Marvel fan who wants to sample a DC book, you’ve got to plan ahead.
With Batman selling for $4.99, the price many annuals are these days, comics buyers will have to really pick and choose what they’ll be buying when that title arrives in stores.
In other words, Batman may have lost some fans with this move. We’ll see.
SNYDER AND CAPULLO REACT
One thing that concerned me was that neither writer Scott Snyder nor artist Greg Capullo found out about this price change until everyone else did. I think they should have been informed about that much sooner.
According to their posts on Twitter, both creators approached DC, requesting that the price be returned to $3.99.
”Regarding the price point on Batman, @GregCapullo and I heard about it yesterday w/you, and quickly made a case to DC about reducing it. And I can genuinely (happily) say that DC are taking it very seriously, which we appreciate. Stay tuned,” Snyder tweeted.
“I don’t set the cover price on Batman. As Scott said, we asked DC to reverse it. Ultimately, I can only try to give you your money’s worth,” tweeted Capullo shortly after that.
At the time this is being written, DC has not responded. Since issue 35 has already been printed, it’s very likely at least that one will cost $4.99.
Look, we need to face facts. The comics industry is very likely going to have to raise the cover price for individual issues sometime soon to survive. In my opinion, DC did a great thing by “holding the line at $2.99,” but with the cost of paper and printing constantly rising, I feel this upward change is inevitable. There was some reaction to Marvel’s moving nearly all of their product to $3.99, but not the outcry some were expecting.
And these days, some books sell for $3.50 or other prices as well, so every company’s trying to figure out how to take in enough money to keep going.
I’ve been reading comics long enough to remember the price increase from ten to 12 cents an issue. After that, prices increased pretty steadily until we reach today’s structure.
The question is, how much will finally be too much to charge for a comic? In the past, I honestly thought nobody would pay $2.99 for an issue, yet that’s common today.
I used to work at a certain metropolitan newspaper in the Washington, DC, area. The common catchphrase they said to each other was, “every issue we print, we’re losing money.”
Looking at the newspaper/magazine industry, we just might be seeing the future of comics. I hope not, but for those of us who truly love the books, we may have to be ready to fork over more of our hard-earned shekels to continue reading comics.
It’ll be tough, but in my opinion, it’ll be worth it!