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Guest Columnist: Cami Berardi, a/k/a Variant Girl of Comic Book File:








SHUT UP AND GIMME ALL YOUR MONEY

Comic Book Prices- What Is Too Much?  

As a comic book fan, I have often asked myself this one compelling question. How much am I willing to pay for my comics? Especially since I am a Canadian comic book reader and we pay more for our comics than our American brothers and sisters do. What costs you $2.99 would cost us Canucks $3.75; we really have something to squawk about.

In these tough economic times we must really consider where and how we are going to spend our money which is allotted for entertainment. I myself have taken the stance to stop seeing movies at the theater unless it is really something I have to see. I would rather wait and watch it on DVD because then I could rent like three movies for the same price as watching one at the theatre. I have cut back on how many trips I make to the bars and restaurants. The added benefit to that is I have ended up eating healthier, and what I bought doesn’t end up getting the royal flush at the end of the night. So far so good, all the decisions I have made to save money here and there, have been rational and logical choices.

Even when it comes to my vehicle, and let me start off by saying that I am NOT a fan of public transportation, I think it sucks for the most part. I hate being crammed into elongated tin can with wheels. However, I have opted to use public transit in order to save costs on gas where I can and if it helps the environment in the process, well all the better. In general I have found that these adjustments have not been hard for me to do, well with the exception of the public transit example. In fact, I don’t know why I didn’t start doing some of these things sooner to save my coin.

Which brings me back to that one haunting question, why can I not just as easily cut back on my comic book addiction? Am I in fact a junkie? Are comic books my crack? Let’s break it down for a second. We all heard the rumors in years past of how eventually the big publishers were going to begin charging more for singles. We as fans hooted and hollered about how we were NOT GOING TO PAY these outrageous prices. But here we are, myself included, doing exactly what we swore we were not going to do. A typical 22 page single issue comic book is now costing on average between; $2.99-$3.99 per book. If you buy 15 singles every week at the $2.99 price point you are spending about roughly $44.85. If you are paying $3.99 you will be spending $59.85 a week, OUCH!!

One can argue that we as comic book consumers are justifying the price gouging going on in the industry because we are purchasing the books. Do we have a choice? Why are we being penalized for enjoying this particular form of entertainment? Here we have the comic book publishers’ pushing the pricing envelope higher and higher, just to see how much really is too much money to ask for from your readership to shuck out every week. The thing that the publishers seem to be forgetting is that most comic book fans have one shared commonality and that’s loyalty- to a fault sometimes. We are the ones that stick to our passion for the medium and actually care about the characters and longevity of that medium. The publishers should recognize this loyalty and reward us for it, instead of hiking up prices. I don’t believe it is right for them to simply put money in their pockets on the backs of the fan base. We the readership are the bread and butter of the business, we have stuck by our love for comics through the good times and bad. Why then can’t the publishers do the same for us? Especially with the economy the way it is right now. If the comic book companies continue to inflate their pricing, we may see the demise of the local comic shop, and eventually comics themselves, and no one wants that.

If you take for example the recent release of Vertigo’s book The Unwritten, a lot of people probably would have passed on this title if it was not for the cover price of $1.00. This was a really great book in my opinion and because of the price point; I ended up buying the second issue which was priced at $2.99, which is still reasonable for a good piece of work.

So does the answer lie in the trades and graphic novels? I have myself turned to trades for certain titles that have been recommended to me, that I have missed out on from the original release date. Usually a TPB can go from anywhere between $9.00-$16.00 but you are also getting 200 pages give or take and no adds. I certainly think that you can get more bang for your buck. I would also like to mention that most comic book shops have a discounted price for their trades, which reduces the price even further. You are able to get multiple issues in one bound edition for cheaper that it would cost to buy the same amount of issues in singles. After saying that I am still a huge fan of the floppies, I love the art, I love the format, and it’s a nostalgic thing for me.

I think that there is more than one answer to this question. First off, comic book fans, we are going to have to be more selective about the titles we buy. We may have to accept the fact that we may not be able to collect every issue of every series or character we like. Example: Wolverine- you could go broke on him alone. I think that the publishers are going to have to recognize that if they want to stay in business and keep their readership up, they may have to sacrifice a little bit of the profit and meet us half way on price point. I think the local comic book shops are going to have to come up with creative ways to keep their clients coming back each week by giving discount days on new issues, back issues, trades, and other products, as an added incentive to buy. We can all be happy if we are all willing to compromise just a little.

In closing, have I in fact answered my own question? How much am I willing to pay? Well I can firmly say that $3.99 is as far as my budget is willing to stretch. I think that you as fellow fans need to figure out what price is right for you and stick to it. I believe that this is the only way any of the publishers will ever get the message. If the publisher really wanted to be revolutionary I say hold a comic price referendum. We are a democratic society aren’t we? Give out multiple price points and see what the average comic book reader is willing to pay, but I doubt they have the balls to do that so, we must break our addictions in order to actually sustain them in the future. Comic book companies are business like everything else; at the end of the day they care about numbers. Use your money as your voice, pick a price and by God stick to it, it’s time to say ENOUGH!

Cami Berardi a.k.a Variant Girl  

 

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