Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

June 4, 2014

Go, Read: Article On The High Cost Of Comics

imageThere's an interesting article here at The Beat about negotiating strategies for dealing with the expenses of a serial comic book habit. It's startling because in many ways it's the kind of article that might have appeared 20 years ago. In addition the coping mechanism outline in the article, there are any number of avenues into comics that involved sale purchases or no purchase at all. There are free webcomics, there are illegal scans, there are libraries with extensive collections, there is social-media facilitated sharing of collections and want-to-read books, there are back catalogs available as part of a subscription service, there are tons of shops that immediately cut comics down in price if they fail to sell in the original purchase window, there are deep discounts on Amazon, there is the sobering reality of eBay controlling collectible purchase prices set by arbitrary gatekeepers, there are former collectible comics of significant cost available for 50 cents or less as the audience for them has grayed or the reason for their inflation in prices has departed the field altogether.

What's remarkable is that despite all of this there are comics that people willingly purchase despite being hopelessly not-a-value, and that many of these are in the traditional serial-to-trade market set-up (high-end strip reprints is another area). And for that market, I do recommend the kind of pruning and second-guessing the article recommends -- not because the wider market and all of its price points are to be ignored, but because they can't be. Those are astounding customers, amazing fans of certain characters and ways of making comics. God bless them.

I live modestly, but if I were to make a list of comics to read -- no matter how esoteric or arcane -- I think by Labor Day I would have a chance to purchase and/or read all of those comics. That was only true 20 years ago by virtue of my job; and even then I'm not sure I would have scored a 100 on a comics scavenger hunt. I don't know that I miss the feeling of wanting something I can't afford or can't find, but I completely respect the fact of its diminishment.
posted 8:15 am PST | Permalink

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