The GeeksverseMarvel Pricing?

Marvel Pricing?
Published on Saturday, August 25, 2012 by

Sure, I’m cheap instead of being thrifty, but I’m also broke, so I take my comic spending seriously. I try to work in a budget but it doesn’t always work that way. I take pricing seriously.This week I picked up Secret Avengers #29 & 30 as well as Venom #23 from Marvel Comics. I wanted to follow the characters and story so I didn’t stare at the prices.

When I was trying to decide how much I was about to spend and how far into my maybe list I could afford to go, I assumed they were all $3.99.

At the counter my cashier stacked the comics by like prices to make it easier to tally. The IDW and Marvel comics all seemed to stack together. I was busy talking and again didn’t pay attention. It wasn’t until I was home that I realized my Venom wasn’t stacked with the Secret Avengers but instead was on the otherside of the stack.

Venom #23 retails at $2.99.

Secret Avengers #29 at $3.99.

Secret Avengers #30 at $3.99.

Given that Secret Avengers #30 and Venom #23 hit the shelves on the same week the discrepancy in pricing seems particularly odd. The only difference that I see is that Secret Avengers–for a dollar more–comes with a limited free digital download of the comic.  Did I just pay a dollar more for a digital download I don’t plan using? That’s what feels like just happened.

8 Responses
    • I always get sticker shock when buying “floppies.” But a big part of that is because I’m old enough to have encountered firsthand the common newsstand single issue cover price of 75 cents (American) for a Marvel or a DC title (this would be around the mid-1980s).

      Alas, the rise of the direct market distribution system, the industry’s abandonment of newsstands and other non-specialty retail outlets, the increase in production costs, and publishers’ and advertisers’ overwhelming focus on older readers with more disposable income than the under-16 set have all conspired to produce the prices we have now. I’m almost exclusively a trade paperback/hardcover collection buyer these days… they’re almost always cheaper in terms of cover price/page count ratio, easier to store on shelves, don’t have ads that break up double-page spreads, and I don’t really mind the longer wait between releases.

      • I started at $.75 too. I remember when comics broke a dollar and me and my friends weren’t sure we’d be able to afford buying them anymore. One of the reasons I made mine Marvel for so long was because they were cheaper than the 90s Valiant or Image comics since they had a larger distribution.

        I do wonder if it is just my selections this week or if all of the digital download comics are a buck more and thus not freely giving you online content?

    • Just to add, Ottawa-based writer and comic book fan Von Allan wrote an interesting analysis contrasting historical comic book price increases with minimum wage on his site last year:

      Here’s an excerpted, quite insightful passage from the essay:

      “… why haven’t fans of superhero movies crossed over into becoming new comic book readers? Price may be an issue. In 1978, the first Superman movie arrived in theatres. Average film price was $2.34 and the weekly US Federal Minimum Wage was $95.40. A ticket cost you 2.45% of your weekly pay. A comic was 35 cents or 0.37% of your pay cheque. When the Tim Burton Batman film came out in 1989, movie tickets were priced pretty high ($3.99 or 3.31% of a weekly US Federal Minimum Wage of $120.60). A comic was still around 0.76% of your weekly pay. By the time Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man film arrived in theatres, things had changed. Ticket prices were $5.80 and the weekly US Federal Minimum Wage was at $185.40. Or 3.13%. Comics? They were now $2.25 or 1.21%. It was becoming harder and harder for people earning minimum wage to make the transition from movies to comics. Even if they wanted to, they can’t afford to.”

      • This is an extremely interesting analysis and I hadn’t thought about it but comics fall under entertainment and thats what takes a hit when people get tight with money.

        I wonder how much this really does play into it? Add the cost in along with the comics not reflecting the movie-verses (vice versa really since the comics came first) and what incentive is there for a fan of the movie to get into comics?


        Lower the prices, especially digitally (and change the format to something universal like PDF) and you might end up making more money. More sales at cheaper prices still amounts to more money. Quantity is where it’s at.

        • This ties into what Larry Hama said about how the industry pretty much priced itself out of the kids’ sector during the mid/late-1990s:

          Comics these days are a luxury for many working adults… and are even more so for kids and teens. And the price increases haven’t scaled with inflation: The price of comics has gone up faster than the price of movie tickets or video games over the same time period.

          • It definitely confirms Hama’s statement.

            I’m a hard-working hard-core comics fan and my stack of comics is getting smaller and smaller every month trying to stick with what I can afford. A younger me on an allowance would never have been able to pick up comics regularly at these prices. I doubt my parents would have kept pace with inflation with my allowance money.

            • The price goes up and the quantity sold goes down. I know the companies think that they need to raise the price to stay in business, but wouldn’t it be better to sell more at a lower price? At some point something has to give and sooner, rather than later, we’ll have nothing but X-Men and Avengers at Marvel and Supes/Bats/GL at DC.

            • Honestly, I’m very capitalist minded. If I ran one of the major companies I would definitely look at dropping the price and churning out a larger sold quantity. Even if I had to drop industry vets in favor of cheaper labor right out of art school, I’d get prices down and characters out on news stands.

              This industry needs spinner racks!


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