One of my New Year resolutions is to cut back on the number of comics I buy. It is in part to the rising cost – many of the titles I buy hit the $3.99 which with the shipping cost added on by the comic shops, means about £3 per issue. This might not seem a lot, but it is about half the cost of a paperback novel and keeps me entertained for substantially less time, increasingly so since the number of actual story pages is falling and “extra content” doesn’t really make up the extra cost.
I don’t want to see the death of the monthly books and I know that rising costs and no doubt dropping sales have seen publishers have to increase the price of monthlies. However, if you consider that you can buy trades on Amazon for so much cheaper…. A quick example is a recent and frankly awful (IMO) story arc on Astonishing X-Men. Astonishing X-Men is one of the $3.99 books and Ghost Box ran for 5 standard issues and 2 specials, so 7 issues in total. So would have roughly cost me £21. However the trade collection is £11.90 which is nearly half the price and includes no adverts and no wait between issues (I think it took the better part of a year for all the issues to come out). Seems stupid to buy the monthly issues, but there is a sort of romance to it for me. The lunch time trip to the shop to pick up this weeks issues is something I always look forward to.
So it is with the spiralling costs, and what I see as a drop in quality, that I am dropping a certain number of books. It won’t make a great difference to my cash flow, but I am dropping all the X-Books (bar X-Factor which Peter David keeps pretty much out of current X-continuity and is much superior to any other X title at the moment). I’ll ride out Siege (although I’ll only pick up the main crossover book and the titles I usual buy) and see what it does to the number of Avenger and Avenger related books and then decide what to do from there.
I don’t buy much outside of Marvel, just a few titles from Vertigo of which only Hellblazer is safe.
So is anyone else having to drop titles either due to cost or just loss of interest?
January 10th, 2010, 06:03 PM
I cut back significantly last year when they ramped the prices up. I don't venture much into the capes except for certain writers (heh, the Whedon/Ellis run on Astonishing for example) and with Brubaker being one of those stepping off much of what has been good in Marvel lately, along with Strac on Thor, I'm down to barebones, all of which is almost exclusively not Big-2. I find I'm taking a few more chances with things as a result, the Punisher Max - Get Castle one shot last week for instance (really good for the curious) and Dingo another.
The issue as you said is value for money, the distribution model has been utter nonsense for almost twenty years now as everyone knows anyway, and with no suitable digital outlet and several dodgy pirate ones out there, the floppy is just not appealing. To be truthfully honest I'm heartily sick of the sheer amount of superhero comics in the market, it's nothing new but some of the work that gets sidelined as a result makes me sad. The industry needs a shake-up even if it's a death of sorts.
January 10th, 2010, 09:06 PM
I don't really buy comics anymore, I never even really got into the habit.
Aside from the price, it's the fact it's a trek to go get them. I currently just make do with the Panini reprints of Wolverine/Deadpool material. £3 a month for the condensation of about 4 issues.
January 11th, 2010, 02:29 PM
I pretty much solely read superhero comic books, bar Fables, House of Mystery and Hellblazer. Although I have started to become a little disillusioned with them now, I am still enjoying certain titles, but agree that the market is getting a little overcrowded and think a policy of quality over quantity is should be introduced.
I have started reading more fringe stuff via trades, like Brubaker’s Incognito and Garth Ennis’ The Boys.
I can see a digital format doing well if it has the technology and publisher support. Maybe this new Apple device will start to usher in some changes.
The market does need a shake up, there is no doubt about that.
January 11th, 2010, 05:59 PM
Yeah Brubaker's own work is almost always better than his capes stuff, Sleeper probably being the exception, but I was a little disappointed with Incognito. It didn't really live up to the premise they were hyping and, worse, it interrupted the Criminal schedule :) My pull list atm is: Wasteland, The Walking Dead, The Sword, Ex-Machina, Criminal, The Unknown, Gravel, Supergod, Scalped, Fables, DMZ and Northlanders. So three a week basically.
I've also been checking out various other titles in trade or singles depending on the writer, some Brubaker with Daredevil (trades, dropped now) and Captain America (singles and trade, finish soon with the last issue of Reborn) Fantastic Four (Hickman is god, Millar in trade, drop it once Jon is done) Thor (trades, dropped now Strac is off) Invincible Iron Man (I like Fraction mostly and his run on this has been fun) Astonishing X-Men (Ghost Boxes was poor Ellis, new arc much better) and anything else Warren Ellis when it appears = Doktor Sleepless, Anna Mercury, Fell (I wish) and Desolation Jones (Pretty Please). I buy too many comics/trades it's true.
There are some digital solutions appearing, I frequent a forum for comic pros and people trying to break in run by a guy developing one of them. It's called Longbox and if he and his team can pull it off, it will be fantastic, I'm crossing my fingers for them. They will be software solutions it appears with companies making however much of their back catalogue available they want to. The trouble is how much of a delay to put on the new stuff so it doesn't affect the floppy/trade markets and also how to prevent a comic as digital file being passed around the internet after one person has bought it.
January 12th, 2010, 03:35 AM
I know Longbox and I have heard they have been working with Apple on this iSlate thing. I did my Publishing Masters dissertation on the idea of the digital comic book market a few years ago. I looked into what was available then and also at the pirating side. While it isn't as easy to copy a comic book as it is a CD or DVD, you can still pretty much get everything online. With comic books, I wouldn't mind some strong DRM software as unlike music I can't see me need to transfer the files to different devices.
Before I dropped certain titles I averaged about 5 or 6 a week depending. I'd say I've nearly cut that in half now.
On a side note, what do you make of the The Unknown? I don't normally like Waid's work, but the concent really interests me. Just waiting for the first trade to come out.
It's weird that the X-Titles are so bad at the moment. Fraction's work on Iron Man has been great and I love Mike Carey's work normally, but they both seem to be doing pretty bad jobs on the two main X-Men books.
January 12th, 2010, 07:01 AM
The first Unknown arc was an interesting idea, the second one has been weaker, not offering the development I'd hoped for. Honestly if they hadn't released the first issue of the second arc straight after the end of the first I'd probably have forgotten about it. I'm on the fence with Waid, I am a fan of Doctor Strange and the possibilities of the character but his current Strange v2 mini is rubbish, especially in comparison to Strac's v1. I felt sorry for him the way he was treated at DC and I've heard good things about Irredeemable and the new Incorruptible, even if they seem very similar to Brubaker's work, and at BOOM he gets to make his own comics and shape their line without interference. In the long term I think that can only be a good thing, I'd much rather that than say Geoff Johns having not written outside the DC canon in forever (if at all?)
I'm not a huge a X-Men fan, the 90's cartoon was about as excited as I got about them though the second movie was good, the problem seems to be two-fold. First is saturation, with so many titles bearing the X-moniker there's only so many stories that can be told, especially whilst toeing the strict event line and not stepping on the other writers toes. This is where continuity is a very bad thing. Also, Astonishing aside, the books are often inter-related forcing fans to buy several books to get a full picture of what's happening. Add in several of the main members being involved with non-X books, don't get me started on Wolverine, and there's just too much of it to forge a single, clear direction which the creative staff can get behind and push in.
Second is Events comics, I know the 'X-Men as minority group' gives it some interesting storylines and plenty of scope but the titles never seem to settle. I thought when Fraction's Uncanny set down in SF that would be it for a while, instead straight on to Nation X and now Necrosha (?) I think. There's no settled creative ground for anything to be built on. The X-Men is essentially a character story, but the only development seems to take place away from continuity (Ellis has done a great job with Armor for example, a throwaway young female character who has become an interesting member of the team, even if it's in the Kitty Pryde role) To me this is indicative of a deeper issue in Marvel, which is that Joey Q loves these all encompassing events and Bendis always gets them, writing his repetitive, decompressed style of comics but dragging the whole output along with them. Compare something recent like the two streamlined Annihilation events, which I thought were good, with the all over the place Civil War happening at the same time and it becomes disconcerting. Strac seems to have left Thor because of Siege and that's a title that was going incredibly well, so naturally given current thinking it must be tied into an Event.
I've always thought that Marvel works well when there are separate worlds going on their way that exist in their own space with stories that interest readers and then occasionally overlap with the regular universe. Iron Fist was a great recent example, so too Thor and Dardevil, the whole space thing with Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova. Spoiling a writer's good work and a title's momentum by forcing them into a straightjacket for x number of months, or worse giving that character to someone else to handle, is just hugely disrespectful to the readers of that title. But that's always been the complaint about WFH, it isn't and never will be your title. Sorry for the rant :)
January 12th, 2010, 08:10 AM
Strange by Mark Waid was a massive disappointment. I was really looking forward to it, but it just fell flat. Suppose I had my own ideas of what to do with the character.
While I do like comics acknowledging the fact they live in a shared universe and I do like the occasional crossover, but for the last few years we’ve had event after event after event. I am hoping that things settle down after Siege. While I enjoy Bendis’ writing and I liked the idea and plan of Civil War, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign I think it is time to let the books have a year or so of stories not connected to any greater story arc or any major crossover.
Post Secret Invasion, the Mighty Avengers book had a half decent story dealing with a banished Immortal. The whole book had a retro feel to it and it was, well just nice. Maybe we’ll see more of this in the post Siege “Heroic Age”. I’ll hold off and see how the reunited Thor, Iron Man and Captain America thing goes.
With X-Men it just gets worse. It has been leaping from event to event since M-Day and it hasn’t finished yet. After Nation X and Necrosha comes the final chapter of the Messiah Trilogy which started back in 2007. This will no doubt either lead of Jean Grey coming back again (how many times can one character die? Does she have the record?) or the Phoenix Force reappearing in a character looks a lot like a Grey. It only seems a few years ago that the culled a lot of X-titles, but they have started to reproduce again.
While writing all this, I am starting to wonder why I am buying anything from Marvel bar Ultimate Comics Spiderman, Powers and X-Factor. Thing is, I dropped a couple of quite decent solo hero stuff to keep following these big events. Idiot!
January 12th, 2010, 08:16 AM
I was going to start picking up Deadpool comics, but it's a real pain to get any of them.
Just gonna buy a few of the TPBs I think.
January 12th, 2010, 09:26 AM
I gave up comics back in the late 90s, not due to rising prices, but due to falling quality. I got tired of feeling like I had to buy six different titles to follow one storyline. Now I just wait until I hear a particular storyline is good and pick up the trade when it comes out.