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Breaking news: Comics are expen$ive!


Newsarama adds up the costs of this year’s big crossover events and finds they do not come cheaply. For SECRET INVASION, after toting up all the tie-ins and spin-offs and whatnot, comes to this conclusion:

November Subtotal: $6.98 The Whole Shebang: $316.98, or just about airfare from Chicago to San Diego and back for Comic-Con ($359)
Total Book Count for this event (to date): 85 official, and 18 unofficial tie-ins, for a total of 103 Secret Invasion tie-in issues.

For FINAL CRISIS, it’s much the same:

he Price So Far: $115.14, or about 29 gallons of gas (based on the current national average)

Total Final Crisis book count (to date): 30.

Or, if you’re one of those people who are looking at both, and we know you’re out there, together, both will set you back $432.12 for 133 books from now through the end of the year.

And that’s WITHOUT all the tie-ins that they haven’t announced because they haven’t thought of the them yet.
Valerie weighs in:

This just doesn’t work. Readers can’t be forced to follow this many books to understand the story. I’m not saying this because I think huge events like this are wrong from a personal standpoint. But from a business standpoint — this publishing model only really benefits from the hardcore readers who were buying all the books anyway. Any new reader is going to view their checklist and freak the f**k out and say “this is way too much of an investment for me.”

While it certainly isn’t new-reader friendly to begin with, for the faithful, surely they already have a bit of money set aside for comics every month, so this is all budgeted for. Of course, rising prices for gas and food may impact that budget as the year goes on.

Or, as we’ve always said, if folks at comics companies were forced to buy their comics for a little while instead of getting them all for free, they would have a different feel for the economics of it all.


  1. Crossovers cause increased sales in all the books involved, so crossovers are here to stay. (Yes, the sales usually go back to previous levels.)

    It is to the point where the reader is going to have to make a choice—have a life, or move back into Mom’s Basement to save money to buy comics.

  2. For clarity’s sake, you may want to correct your Final Crisis quote above. The $432.12 is the grand total for both Secret Invasion and Final Crisis combined. The Final Crisis total was less than a third of that amount.

    From the article:

    December Subtotal: $11.97
    The Price So Far: $115.14, or about 29 gallons of gas (based on the current national average)

    Total Final Crisis book count (to date): 30.

  3. Final Cri$i$ and $ecret Inva$ion will both end up in my local library anyway, so DC and Marvel can forget about pillaging my bank account this summer.

  4. “This just doesn’t work. Readers can’t be forced to follow this many books to understand the story.”

    It might work better if some of these books told complete stories themselves. Kurt Busiek seemed to figure this out with ASTRO CITY, which has had a few multi-issue storylines. You can read individual issues, and feel you’ve gotten a complete story … you read all of the issues and you get THE BIG PICTURE.

    That would seem to be the major complaint with 52 and CIVIL WAR and everything else … some readers feel that they AREN’T getting a complete story … even with the tie-ins. Just a bunch of fight scenes extended over several books.

  5. They leave out that DC has been very vocal that Final Crisis is stand-alone and is understandable without the various off-shoots and cross-overs. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but if we’re going to hang a publisher, we should at least note what they’ve said on their behalf.

  6. First off, thanks to Heidi for talking about our little piece there.

    Secondly, Jason: We actually mention that at the top of the article.

    “And, of course, whether you buy all of the tie-ins is up to you and your individual proclivities, and as always, comes with the message from the publisher that you don’t need all the tie-in issues to enjoy the story, though individual readers’ mileage on that statement may vary, of course.”

    Just clarifying. Thanks for reading!

  7. Both Marvel and DC have made the claim that you don’t have to read more than the event mini, with the overwhelming opinion being that they were flat out wrong each time. I think Marvel has made the same claim with Secret Invasion, so by not bringing it up for either, the article still plays it fair.

  8. I personally think it all boils down to value.

    This has been the subject of several discussions here on The Beat and elsewhere. I’m just glad the business model of the web is beginning to make an impact so that prices will drop and readership will expand.

  9. The problem is that DC has Final Crisis-related books not labeled as such. This week’s Flash, for example, which uses the Dark Side Club and the Forever People as plot points, but doesn’t carry any kind of Final Crisis banner.
    Now, this isn’t a problem if you don’t give a hoot about all the tie-ins, but in terms of factoring in total cost for the event-related books, these should be included in the Final Crisis tally as well.

  10. Honestly, no matter how much comic fans online talk online about how this “doesn’t work,” the truth is that it does work. These big event comics sell way, way more than normal comics, and tie-ins can double or triple the sales of the average title and noticeably increase even already top-selling titles. Marvel and DC are businesses; they’re not going to pass up that kind of result for some abstract notion of better storytelling. They’ll stop doing this kind of event when people stop buying them, not an instant before, and for all the talk of “event fatigue” there’s no sign that it’s costing them net readers.

  11. Don’t forget also the people who are taking advantage of 40% off prices using places like DCBS or MOC or Heroes Corner for mail order.

    For us, Final Crisis with all its tie ins according to one person comes in at $69.00

  12. The more interconnected comics become continuity-wise the less I buy, so it has the reverse effect on me. A sure-fire way to get me to not buy a comic is by telling me that it crosses over into like four other books or has a neverending storyline. I’ve always had a set budget for my comic hobby and as the prices have gone up I’ve simply bought less and less. I agree though, smaller, contained stories will a larger storyline running as sub-plot (like say a season of Buffy) is the ideal model in my opinion.

  13. Aaron, I believe the argument is more that they do these events for a temporary bump in sales at the expense of luring new readers or keeping the current casual readers that are still in the process of becoming more firmly entrenched as long term customers. DC seems to be suffering more from such a backfire than Marvel.

    While Marvel has certainly executed this gambit more competently, I’d imagine some of their growing audience is as much due to the competition’s failure as it is to their success (specifically regarding events).

  14. Seconded. 6$ for that French Robot comic from Marvel. The funny thing is, a lot of people new to comics were looking forward to it from buzz, but the 6$ price tag scared them away.

  15. For Secret Invasion, I have created (with help from Marvel’s SI postcard checklist, Thanks Marvel!) 3 “Packages” for the event.

    You can sign up for “Everything”, the “Main” titles (The core series plus the SI titled minis and one-shots), or just the “Core” title.

    More of my customers are signing up for the “Main” titles, with “All” being the #2 selection, and “Core” title is a distant third place. Several people are signed up for “Core” plus one or more of the tie-ins, but not all of them.

    While every store is different, this shows me that at least in my market, people WANT to read all of these crossovers.

    DC has yet to release an easy-to-use checklist for Final Crisis, so my marketing there is less precise.

  16. If you’re going to do a cross-over or special event like this, and you are asking your audience to read comics they normally wouldn’t read to get the whole story then please reduce the price so the buy- in isn’t so high.

    These crossover events are about marketing the whole company’s characters and generating interest in the whole library. The end result (hopefully) generating more interest in characters who are not regularly in the spotlight and strengthening the entire line of books amongst comic readers.

    Tell you what – put in more ads for movies, dvds and videogames (or toys, drinks, gum, etc) and take a dollar off the pricetag for each issue. We won’t mind. In fact, do yourselves (an comic readers) a favor and put together a campaign:

    Make Comics Less Expensive in ’09!
    More Readers, Lower Prices!

    Because with gas prices rising, people are going to gravitate to cheaper forms of entertainment.

  17. People should just buy independant or low selling comics which have much more stuff in them despite being 32-page (No ADS too)

  18. Just one thing: I have problems with the accounting done to find the final (projected) cost of both crossovers. While the Secret Invasion one included every tie-in under the sun, even past stories not officially identified as tie-ins, the Final Crisis calculation omitted Countdown (which is Countdown TO FINAL CRISIS after all) and its myriad of tie-ins, so both crossovers should cost on the environment of 300 bucks each.

    Not that I care, of course. I will continue to buy the comics I read regularly and forget the rest.

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

  19. “Seconded. 6$ for that French Robot comic from Marvel. The funny thing is, a lot of people new to comics were looking forward to it from buzz, but the 6$ price tag scared them away. ”

    That “french robot comic” is Sky Doll and it’s really more italian than french, to be fair.

    Each issue has 44 pages of story, or DOUBLE that of an american comic. Why shouldn’t it cost twice as much? If it was published on its original format (oversized hardcover), it would cost double that, so it’s less than the european readers had to pay.

    And I bet that european sales (over 200k an issue…) were ten times what it will sell on the US, even being much more expensive. Because the public there doesn’t mind paying for something with a worthy content, instead of a cheaper, disposable “american super-hero comic”.

    Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

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