Competition and the Comics Marketplace

Although I'm trying to move away from writing about industry news (there are other, much better sources, for that kind of info, chief among them Comics Reporter and Bleeding Cool, the latter of which I lifted the substantive content of this report from), it seemed worth noting that both Marvel and DC dropped below 30% dollar share of the comics market in November, particularly as both companies finally seem to be abandoning lower price points for higher ones.

Comics are, I think, the most expensive form of popular entertainment. People complain about the cost of going to the movies more often and more loudly, sure, but a movie typically lasts in between 90 and 120 minutes and costs, in my recent experience, anywhere between $8 and $14. A 32-page comic, read exceptionally slowly, takes maybe a quarter of an hour from font to back, and costs between $2.99 and $3.99. I won't do the math for you-- the difference is clear. Obviously, you get to keep your comic book, and buying a DVD is significantly more expensive than going out to the movies (something, incidentally, I never hear anyone complain about), but the experience of buying and reading individual comic books is, I think, closer to the ephemeral experience of going to the movies than the permanent ownership of a DVD; you buy your comics, you read them, and then you put them away. They go into your longbox, out of sight, unlikely ever to be read again.

And, so, that people are choosing to bring their money elsewhere is significant, since it suggests that readers are trying unfamiliar things.  As Marvel and DC continue to stumble (the latter, perhaps, more than the former) they may very well get scared. Since neither is likely to retreat on an increased price point, they'll either double down on what isn't working (which will continue to drive people towards more inventive publishers, which will in turn fund greater output from those publishers), or, hopefully, they'll try more new and possibly interesting things. Either way, if you're a comics reader, these numbers are a good sign. 

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