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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.

Comments 8

  1. I looked at the Marvel Online thing. It doesn’t appeal to me. I’m one who likes to go back and re-read comics years later. I like to grab a stack and go sit in the park, or read them over a burger at the restaurant. If the comics are viewable online-only, then there’s the very real probability that they’ll disappear.

    Secondly, my local comic shop saves my comics for me so I never miss an issue. Bruce also includes any “side-issues” that may come along. Also, he knows what I like and offers recommendations of other comics that I might like.

    Those things make it worth it for me to stop by the store and buy the dead-tree versions–at least for now.

  2. I looked at the Marvel Online thing. It doesn’t appeal to me. I’m one who likes to go back and re-read comics years later. I like to grab a stack and go sit in the park, or read them over a burger at the restaurant. If the comics are viewable online-only, then there’s the very real probability that they’ll disappear.

    Secondly, my local comic shop saves my comics for me so I never miss an issue. Bruce also includes any “side-issues” that may come along. Also, he knows what I like and offers recommendations of other comics that I might like.

    Those things make it worth it for me to stop by the store and buy the dead-tree versions–at least for now.

  3. You’re absolutely right. These are huge issues, particularly the fact that you don’t actually own anything. You just subscribe to the right to read it. However, I almost never go back to read old issues, and I’m lousy about getting the store regularly. I have used pull services in the past, but I often wound up spending a ton of money on comics. The $60/year is much gentler on my budget, and I don’t have to worry about the kids ruining the issues either. 🙂

  4. Post
    Author

    You’re absolutely right. These are huge issues, particularly the fact that you don’t actually own anything. You just subscribe to the right to read it. However, I almost never go back to read old issues, and I’m lousy about getting the store regularly. I have used pull services in the past, but I often wound up spending a ton of money on comics. The $60/year is much gentler on my budget, and I don’t have to worry about the kids ruining the issues either. 🙂

  5. They have an ad at the start of every comic to encourage people to buy the regular version from a local comic store. Also, the fact that you can’t get the newest issues nags you to go to a store to get caught up.

  6. Post
    Author

    They have an ad at the start of every comic to encourage people to buy the regular version from a local comic store. Also, the fact that you can’t get the newest issues nags you to go to a store to get caught up.

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