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Numbers Racket

So, my next comic show appearance is a little under three weeks away, where I will attempt to expand the audiences for Sound Waves, Stress Puppy, and Head Above Water.  Of course, there is a question of how much to charge for my books.  I try to think like the Clash, whose mantra was Value For The Money -- they gave their all to make it worth your while (well, what do you expect from The Only Band That Matters?).  Admittedly, I put a lot of work into my stories, trying to make them the best they can be.  I like the thought of people rereading my books, not bagging, boarding, and forgetting about them until they want to unload stuff on eBay.  Focusing on Sound Waves, the issues selling to the regular readers are priced at $4 each, and the demand is constant (the release isn't precisely bimonthly, it shifts a week one way or the other, and people wonder where their comic is).  They have no problem paying that for the books, they love the characters and the stories that much (thinking about that always gives me a little lift inside, that I am providing something people are happy to support, not grudgingly support).  Indies are forgiven for being a little more expensive, right?  So, let's look at what The Bigs are charging and go from there.

So, DC Comics.  As far as the regular DCU goes, they solicited 42 books.  28 are $2.99.  13 are $3.99 (and many, but not all, have extra content).  1 is $4.99.  For their imprints, all 3 Cartoon Networks are $2.99.  At Vertigo, 15 books are $2.99, one is $3.99.  Wildstorm?  9 titles are $2.99, and four are $3.99.  And DC is letting the $3.99 price point start to creep in, the pendulum will soon swing the other way.

So, let's see...Marvel.  Marvel has 26 of their books at $2.99.  57 books are $3.99, and almost none have extra content.  3 are $4.99.  For their imprints, MAX has 1 $3.99 and 1 $4.99.  Licensed books from Stephen King and the Dabels are $3.99.  At Icon, the two Mark Millar titles are $2.99, Powers is $3.95, Casanova is $3.99, and Dream Logic is $5.99.  Marvel upped their prices and the books had no appreciable drop in numbers from people saying they were too expensive.

Okay, so I ought to be able to charge closer to the actual price point of each issue of Sound Waves, maybe a little more, than the $3.50 per issue from the du Page show and not feel guilty, right?

Not quite.  Overall sales of comics for April 2010 are down roughly 20% from April 2009.  And that's with Free Comic Book Day drawing record crowds and press, comic book movies everywhere, and so on.  That also means a lot of creators are starting to dip below that line for "incentive pay" that gives them royalties and enables them to do comics for a living.

Is it the economy?  Maybe.  Then again, with comics being so disposable in fans' minds and the emphasis on spin-off media instead of making good comics, maybe the fans are just losing interest.  It's no coincidence that DC is trying to revive the Silver Age characters, since that audience is still hitting comic shops and buying titles while the younger crowd falls away.

Decisions, decisions....and praying I don't get crushed under the collapse.

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