The History of the Cost of Comic Books (Mania.com)

By:Jason Chavis
Date: -
Source: Decompressed Stories

Overview

Comic books throughout history have had a minimal cost. When the industry began, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. Throughout the course of the late 20th century, the comic-book industry raised prices to combat increasing costs.

Early Cost

From the early days of comic-book publishing in the 1930s, the price remained relatively steady. "Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics" and "New Fun" were released in 1933 and 1935, respectively, each selling for 10 cents. This price continued for almost 30 years. The format at first was a 68-page book printed on newspaper stock. After a few years, this changed to a tabloid size, 15 inches by 10 inches, in a 36-page magazine format with a lightweight cardstock cover.

1962

In 1962, across the industry, the price for comic books rose by 2 cents to 12 cents. This price increase was made generally because the industry needed to regulate its cost structure. Many companies were taking losses on certain titles that weren't selling enough. They needed to balance the costs across the board.

Misconceptions

Prices for comic books do not change on every book at one time. Generally, costs are adjusted on a variety of comics over the course of a few years. Companies such as DC Comics and Marvel Comics generally raise the costs of their more popular titles first, because readers are likely to continue to purchase these better-selling books. For example, in 2009 Marvel Comics raised its price on its top comics from $2.99 to $3.99.

Features

The main cause for price increases over the years has been new standards for the comic books themselves. The quality of paper has increased over time from newspaper to glossy stock. In addition, printing techniques grew from simple four-color dot process to digital printing.
Comic-book talent also increased in cost over the years. In the late 1990s, more prominent authors and artists began to work on materials for companies, driving the overall costs higher.
Also, profits for stakeholders have become an increasing factor. The two largest companies became part of publicly traded corporations. DC Comics became a subsidiary of Time-Warner, while Marvel went public as Marvel Entertainment.

Considerations

The rate of price increase has accelerated over time. From 1968 to 1988, the average cost of comics rose only 63 cents, from 12 cents to 75 cents. From 1988 to 2008, the average cost rose $2.24, from 75 cents to $2.99.


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