Thursday, October 01, 2009

Marvel F**ks Fans Forgets to Kiss Them

I hate the $4 price point and feel that Marvel is responsible for it. Essentially by going down this road Marvel is costing me a huge amount of entertainment. For this post I’m going to assume all books used to be $3 and are now $4. I will also assume I spend $60 a week on regular comics. So before I was getting 20 comics a week, now I can only get 15. That is 110 pages less entertainment then before, quite a drop off.

The $4 price point is a huge deal for me. I buy a decent amount of books every week, so at 20 titles a week the $4 price point is an extra $20 (assuming all books jumped). $20 a week for 52 weeks equals $1,040. I don’t have an extra $1,000 to drop on comic during a year as my budget was already pushed to as high as I’m willing to go. From a retailer perspective as long as I continue to spend my $60 and they order the appropriate amount of books their profit margin remains the same at either $20 x $1.50 or 15 x $2. So the idea of course would be for me to continue at 20 books a week and the publisher and retailer make more money. I contend the $4 becomes a bigger problem for the retailer as he now has to speculate and bet $2 for every four dollar book and have customers like me no longer pick up that extra book off the rack. I also have a sneaking suspicion that this is an attempt to move more people to digital comics.

I have dropped numerous mini-series and other titles from Marvel because of the $4 price point and refused to even try some titles. Punisher Noir, Luke Cage Noir are victims of my liking issue #1, but not at $4. Plus I find it interesting that Marvel is now producing three issue mini-series at $4 a crack as opposed to four issue mini-series at $3 a crack. Yes you still only pay $12 for the story and you get 22 pages less of story and art.

Also what is the reasoning behind a $4 price point versus the $3 price point? Some $4 books for December from Marvel are Black Widow and The Marvel Girls, Hulk, Ghost Riders: Heavens on Fire, Iron Man vs Whiplash, Nomad Girl Without a World, Dark Avengers Ares, Dark Avengers, Spider-Man and The Secret War, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Wolverine Weapon X. All are $4 for 32 pages. I can’t find anything that ties them together. $3 books for December are Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Avengers: The Initiative, Daredevil, Doctor Voodoo, Vengeance of Moon Knight, Punisher, Nova, Astonishing X-Men, Dark Wolverine. Here I can almost detect a pattern of the second tier books all having a $3 price point. Maybe demand is not inelastic as people like to think on comics and at a certain sales number the $4 price tag kills the sales.

The ultimate price insult was Giant Size Wolverine vs Superman Secret Origin. Marvel charged $5 and gave us 32 pages of new story and added filler to make the book have some heft to it. That is 16 cents a page. DC gave us 40 pages of story for $4 that is 10 cents a page. Not even debating quality of the work, that is a 60% difference in price. Pretty easy to skip many Marvel titles. Maybe Marvel can at least kiss their fans after ****** them.

On top of that Marvel’s move is reflected with DC moving books to a $4 price point. Now while they are giving us 30 pages of story and art in all of their $4 books they are doing it with back up features. So far most of this has been decent quality and I still feel like I’m getting my bang for the buck, but it also feels like a sham. I know that the back up feature will be dropped and the price point will remain the same one day down the road. It is like I’m being trained to accept the $4 price point. So at least I feel like DC is trying to kiss me as they try to seduce me as opposed to Marvel a** raping us.

I understand prices have to change over time and I understand the economics of certain things, but there is no rhyme or reason for what Marvel is doing other then to try and make the bottom line better on the backs of a dwindling fan base. As an ex-CPA I understand the drive to increase profits, but if you do as you decrease you actual customer base, have you really made an improvement in your long term business model? What makes it worse is that times are bad and based on what I read are going to get worse. That means paying down bills and trying to save more and more money where ever possible. Ultimately that means reducing discretionary spending and that means comics. The $4 price point for a large portion of Marvel comics has made me reconsider my buying habits and is forcing me to make choices I did not want to make. The result is as I drop titles I realize how little I actually miss them and how many other things I have that can fill in the entertainment time. Instead of getting more of my money or even the same amount, I have actually been reducing what I spend on comics. My wife thanks you Marvel, me not so much. I guess I can “grow up” and move on from weekly comics, but I didn’t really want to. I just wish you had at least tried to kiss me instead of knocking me down and ….well, you know.

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