The Cost of Making Comics

Publishers Weekly just posted an excellent article about what it takes to make money at producing comics. It’s framed in terms of this summer’s notorious debate between Robert Kirkman and Brian Michael Bendis, but feel free to ignore that and just look at the numbers. Making money in comics is far from easy, and this shows you exactly why.

Put this next to John Rogers’s recent comments on the canceling of Blue Beetle from DC Comics, and its clear why even the larger publishers struggle with making money on some of their titles. There are only so many comic-book readers out there, and with prices nearing $4 per book, they can’t buy enough titles to keep every one of them afloat.

I recently signed up for Marvel’s digital comics service. It’s actually pretty snazzy, and it only runs $60 per year. Considering that’s less than the cost of two comics a month, it’s a fantastic deal. Also, since I’m a reader rather than a collector, it’s a great fit for me. I get to read the books but then not bother with all that bagging, boarding, and boxing of them and then trying to figure out where to store them.

And I don’t have to remember to drive down the comic store every week to get my fix. I usually wind up cursing my luck for missing a key issue if I can’t manage it to make it on any given week. You add up too many of those, and I just give up on a title. There are too many holes in the story to make it worthwhile for me to try to follow it.

My only real complaint is that Marvel doesn’t usually post new issues until they’re several months—or even years—old. They hope to preserve their comic-shop sales this way, I know, but I’ve been broken of that habit, and I don’t see myself going back any time soon. In the meantime, make mine digital.