Top Cow Guarantees $2.99 issues in 2009


It turns out that iFanboy may have had some influence over at Top Cow Productions.  Publisher Filip Sablik made the rounds yesterday in response to Top Cow’s press release guaranteeing a $2.99 cover price on all regularly sized issues in 2009.  Sabik says, “We looked around and saw cover prices creeping up and up all around us.  It seems wrong to raise your prices on customers during these tough economic times.”  In the comments of this Newsarama story, Sablik references Conor’s recent article on the price increases.

Publicity stunt or not, I imagine Top Cow readers are happy to see that their books won’t be costing them more money in the immediate future.  It’s certainly a far cry from what Marvel readers are experiencing and hearing.  It seems that Marvel’s plan to keep the event books and popular titles (like Dark Avengers and New Avengers) at $3.99, in order to guarantee that other titles stay at $2.99.  Still, that sounds dubious to me, and as Conor pointed out to me earlier this week, 11 of the 19 books Marvel will release this Wednesday will be priced at $3.99.

Frankly news like this makes me want to take a second look at Top Cow’s offerings.  I’m reminded that I quite enjoyed Ron Marz’ First Born, which I talked about in our Image Comics episode.  Plus, they’re the home of our own Paul Dini’s work like Madame Mirage and Jingle Belle.  Then there’s Pilot Season, which we’ve paid far too little attention to, with work from Jason Aaron, Joe Casey, Jonathan Hickman, among others.

From my point of view, you shouldn’t give up reading the comics you like if you can afford them, and are OK with the price increases, but this is also an excellent time to see what else is out there, and check out some of the comics you may not have paid attention to before.

Comments

  1. "Then there’s Pilot Season, which we’ve paid far too little attention to, with work from Jason Aaron, Joe Casey, Jonathan Hickman, among others."

    And Troy Hickman! Troy was in there too! He won!

    God I love Troy’s stuff…

  2. That’s great to hear that a company actually cares about the price increase and the readers.

    Shame I dont read anything from Top Cow

  3. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    Well, if you don’t try it, you’ll never know.

  4. drakedangerz drakedangerz says:

    But does that open the door for them to raise their prices in 2010?  *sigh* probably.  But still a hell of a year to try some top cow stuff.

  5. @josh: Well I definitely want to try, and I went on the site to see what they had to offer. Then I realised that their two biggest books are Witchblade and The Darkness…that deserves a shudder *shudders*

    Everything else looks like clones of Witchblade or involve a bunch of half naked ladies….So….yeah no thanks…

  6. J4K3 J4K3 says:

    I may have to look into Top Cow…*shudder*

    But seriously, I’d say 80-90% of the comics I buy are Marvel. If they start raising all their prices I’ll have very little to read aside from Green Lantern, which makes me sad. Very sad indeed.  I’ll have to seriously look into Top Cow books now. And some more Image stuff, probably.

  7. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    First Born was a Witchblade/Darkness story.  It was good.  I read it.  I think they suffer from their past image a bit.

    But hey, at least you went and looked.  That’s the most they can ask for.  Maybe when you’re in the shop, you’ll flip through one of their books, giving them a chance.  And you weren’t going to do that before.  Good marketing.

  8. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    The Pilot Season stuff is worth checking out.  

  9. Theoran Theoran says:

    Madame Mirage was great and she was fully clothed. Art was amazing and I loved the layouts of each page. Other than that, um yeah, I’m not so into witchbladery.

  10. Oh thats right, Dini did that Madame Mirage. I had the trade in my work and it was pretty good.

    Still like josh said, their past image really needs to go. I dont mind cheesecake in my superheroines, but damn….Top Cow does WAAYYY too much of it.

  11. ato220 ato220 says:

    I don’t think that iFanboy or the iFanbase has steered me wrong yet.  I’ll give Top Cow some of my hard earned dollars.

  12. Skullbine Skullbine says:

    I’ll be looking into some of their comics now.  Nice to see a company look out for their customers.

  13. J4K3 J4K3 says:

    I was absolutely set for getting New Avengers starting with #48. Now that I’ve seen Marvel’s plan to raise the price of the so-called "event books," I’m not so sure. :(

  14. Theoran Theoran says:

    Eh, not to be a troll, but to me, I’m calling Shenanigans. The price or comics going up sucks, but so to did the price of gas and did people stop driving? Nope. Did they alter their driving habits? Probably. Did they alter their budgets? I would hope so. Remember when Hugo Chavez wanted to look like a hero and was selling gas to America lower than others? While a company keeping their prices at consumer friendly level and claiming that’s why they are doing it sounds great in our ears, I’d bet behind closed doors the story is totally differnent. I business strategist would salivate at using this opportunity to draw people to their products siting, "See. We care about the customer and we understand the economic hardships that many are experiencing."

     

    Maybe I am too cynical. I just go with the flow as prices increase all the time. Gas, milk, bread, fastfood. Do we think twice about paying $5 for Starbucks?

     

    So, I’ll still get the books I love, I just may be more reluctant to jump on board new books or the one shots. 10 books @ 2.99? Now it’ll just be 8 books @ 3.99.

  15. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Theoran – Of course they want more people to try their books. That’s the whole point of publicizing this.  There’s nothing wrong with that.

  16. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    Yup, that is pretty cynical.

  17. Paul Montgomery PaulMontgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  

  18. Theoran Theoran says:

    Sorry fellas. Bad day in the IT department leads to such distrust. Nothing a Wednesday can not cure. Still, I guess I could counter my own argument by saying that is I had followed my own thought process and not try new books because of the 3.99 price of the books I was buying I never would have fallen in love with Madame Mirage. So I contradict myself. I will get anything Dini does or Rocafort draws because of said experience.

  19. Top Cow has good stuff. Johnathan Hickman said in an interview that heads of TC are pushing towards a diversification of titles to tweak their public perception. Check out Pilot Season. It’s has some of the most un-Top Cow-ish books you could think of.

  20. androidmoser androidmoser says:

    I’ve been enjoying Witchblade for quite a while now. Going on 2 years, I think. It’s the only Top Cow title I read, but I’ll vouch for it.

    Had Jason Aaron’s Ripclaw won during Pilot Season, I would have bought more of that, too. 

  21. Crippler Crippler says:

    Is there no chance of seeing a deflationary effect at work on comic industry prices?  I would think that lowering instead of raising prices would have a greater long term sustainability in an industry like this, unless we think that the big two would each be happier putting out no more then a dozen or so issues a month? 

  22. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    @Crippler – There’s no chance of prices going down as long as the cost of paper continues to skyrocket.

    Unless they move to all digital format but then the internet rips in half every time that’s brought up.

  23. Crippler Crippler says:

    I don’t know.  If you follow that argument, then what’s going to keep the price of paper high?  The demand must be shrinking constantly.  Maybe paper production is shrinking to match?  At least they can’t blame the price hike on shipping costs anymore.  Those should be going down along with the price of gasoline. 

    … ah, i’ll stop now.  I don’t care about the cost of paper.  I just know that $2.99 is my ceiling for ‘regular’ books.  If they want to publish at a higher price point, fine.  I don’t need to buy everything. 

  24. drakedangerz drakedangerz says:

    they should just cut down more trees

  25. chlop chlop says:

    Is the demand shrinking? People nowadays pay attention to where they get their paper and that might increase costs.

    A lot of books come out each month, there are labels on a lot of things, comics, notebooks, adverts, flyers, packages, cds, records sometimes, empty CDs, copying machines need a lot of paper, envelopes,  newspapers etc. Much of that isn’t recycled

    Maybe it’s caused by the price of wood and that also includes the abundance of furniture. Maybe it’s because of some chemical involved in producing paper.

  26. cenquist cenquist says:

    I don’t collect any Top Cow books anymore, but I did collect the Tomb Raider series and a few other minis back 5 years or so ago and Top Cow always had the highest prices (I am Canadian so the USA cover price was about the same but the Canadian was MUCH higher) so maybe they just made so much $$$ from us back then that they can keep there prices the same now!!  But that said….the 2.99 they are staying at will have me check out a couple books probably through the year.

  27. The very idea of Pilot Season puzzles me.  Why would anyone want to invest in a book that stands a very good chance of being cancelled before the story is completed?  Or is at least one "arc" of every PS book completed?  Am I thinking wrong here?  I tried Genius and thought it was anything but and didn’t read anything else because I didn’t want to start something that wasn’t going to finish.

  28. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    Ah I’m going to have to vote with my dollars now and find something Top Cow publishes that I like. I have never bothered with Top Cow on purpose – everything I noticed with their name on it, I’d be embarressed to walk out of the store with. The cheesecake stuff is almost always a defenite deal breaker.

    Now I realized that I semi-dug Wanted and I picked up the Impaler series which was wicked good (sadly, I was out of town when I found it, and my LCS didn’t bother). This needs revisiting.

    Would it be possible for the iFanboys to weigh in on this, either in the comments, or maybe a shared article, all the writers scrible out their Top Cow picks?

  29. @Horation: This year’s pilot season garnered so many votes that according to Top Cow big wigs, all books will likely be given an eventual mini series. The top two vote-getters however, are guaranteed a limited series in the new year.

    @Otto: I highly reccommend buying the Twilight Guardian one-shot as well as The Core one-shot. The former is an understated, sophisticated and genuinely fresh, slice-of-life-ish look at superheros (written by Eisner nominee Troy Hickman – Common Grounds – with gorgeous art by Reza). The latter is a sci-fi metaphor for the middle-east crisis (written by Jonathan Hickman, the art by "I forget his name right now" gave me an optical orgasm).

  30. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    @ Jupiter – Thanks. I saw the Guardian preview on CBR and wasn’t mad about the art. I’ll give it a once-over when next it’s release. I’ve been looking into The Core though, and will second your eye-gasm. I put in a order to Heavy Ink tonight.

  31. sandgrounder sandgrounder says:

    I got into Top Cow titles last year. They put out some great stuff. Witchblade and Darkness are both worth a look, a bit different to the standard DC/Marvel stuff. there’s also Dragon Prince which is a fantastic ‘all-ages’ read, Cyblade has just started and is promising(it won Pilot Season last year). Their ‘event’ this year was 3 issues, with 3 tie-ins. That”s 6 issues in total! compare  that to Final Crisis/Secret Invasion! One of the reasons I have cut back heavily on my DC titles in the constant bombardment of new titles/crossovers/tie-ins etc. Hunter Killer was a fantastic series a few years back and a new series is out next year.

    (the women wear more clothes nowadays! and it’s not as if there are no scantily clad females in X-men!)

  32. "Their ‘event’ this year was 3 issues, with 3 tie-ins. That”s 6 issues in total!"

    Cool!

  33. @sandgrounder: ‘the women wear clothes nowadyas!’

    True, but again with Madame Mirage (which is probably the tamest comic I’ve seen from Top Cow) there is a ton of big breast, lots of cleavage, and big ass’s to boot. So yes they might not be half naked women anymore, but Top Cow still goes waay over the top with cheesecake.

    I dont understand why paper is going up, is there a real reason for that? We control what trees go down and we replant them a spilt second after cutting them down…There cant be a shortage, that’s for sure.

  34. sandgrounder sandgrounder says:

    i think it’s more due to the increasing costs in general of energy, transportation, manufacturing etc and not so much the ‘wood’ itself. As Theoran mentioned, EVERYTHING is going up in price. I’m sure Top Cows prices will increase in 2010 but that’s over a year off.

  35. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    The fact aside that Top Cow has done creators wrong in the past, and that most of their stuff is spank material T & A, they are making the right move in this economic climate.  I was at my LCS today and we talked at length abouth this move and how it is long overdue and how prices increasing across the board.  The store usually gets everything, but did not get a lot of Phonogram for instance because he has to offset the cost of Ghost Boxes or Marvel Apes, and this is just the beginning, until the other publishers realize that they have a big problem on their hands, more stores are not going to be able to have the wide selecetion of titles because their money like all of ours is finite.  I know this was recently discussed by Conor, but having seen the effects of the $3.99 books and how it has cost me a chance to check out Phonogram 2, was chilling.  There are dark days ahead for many books and creators… 

  36. Tork Tork says:

    My first Top Cow book was Wanted.  Needless to say, I don’t buy from Top Cow.

    Wait, actually my first book was Rising Stars… yeah, I don’t buy from Top Cow.

  37. Diabhol Diabhol says:

    You know, if we just made paper out of rice, everything would be better.

     

  38. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    @TheNextChampion – you’re basing you astute economic predictions for the forestry and paper industries on what now?

    If you’re interested, here are some examples:

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/rising-price-newsprint-clouds-publishing/story.aspx?guid={241CC816-218A-4968-802D-9CF7D9ED4F99}

    http://www.pulpandpaper.net/NetLetter/Features/February-16-2006.asp

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/12/17/news/China-Paper-Shortage.php

    http://www.designisaboutyou.com/2008/09/02/keep_paper_costs_down/

  39. Theoran Theoran says:

    There can be so many factors that affect price, not just the principle medium the product is printed on. Food prices rose, not because of a drought, or a insect infestation, or a nation wide farmers strike. Gas prices rose, which made it cost more for farmers to farm the crops. As a result, the product cost a little more and then transporting the products cost a little. Now the end markets have to charge a little more for the product. Oh oh. Minimum wage increased and now you are paying alot of your staff an extra dollar more an hour .  .should I eat the costs or pass it on to the customer . . . . . . . . . price increases.

     

    It’s not so simple as pointing at one industry for the reason for price increases.

  40. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    No, it isn’t that simple, but it’s what the industry points to, and it’s a major component of their business.

  41. RonMarz says:

    I think some of you have misconceptions … or at least outdated perceptions … about what Top Cow publishes. I respectfully and strongly disagree that it’s "spank material." When I took over Witchblade four years ago, I told Top Cow I had no interest in writing a T&A book. They said fine. And it’s been that way ever since. Sara Pezzini wears a hell of a lot more clothes than, say, Wonder Woman, She-Hulk or most any Big Two heroine you’d care to name.

    But don’t take my word for it. See for yourself, as full issues are available online for free:

    First Born #1: http://www.topcow.com/Site/readers/firstborn1/Default.html

    Broken Trinity #1: http://www.topcow.com/Site/readers/brokentrinity1/Default.html

    Dragon Prince #1: http://www.topcow.com/Site/readers/dragonprince1/Default.html

    Witchblade #116: http://www.topcow.com/Site/readers/witchblade116/Default.html

    The Darkness #1: http://www.topcow.com/Site/readers/darkness1/Default.html

    It’s not the same kind of stuff you’ll get from Marvel and DC, which is kind of the point. Hope some of you give it a try, to see what the books really are, rather than judging them with opinions formed a decade ago. Thanks for the interest.

     

  42. roadcrew1 roadcrew1 says:

    @sandgrounder – Do you know when the new Hunter/Killer book is scheduled for?  and if Rocafort will still be drawing it?

  43. filipsablik filipsablik says:

    Hi  Everyone,

    Ron beat me to offering up links to some of the free full issues we have available on our website. As he says, I think a lot of people operate under a dated misconception of who Top Cow is and what kind of books we publish. It would be akin to thinking that Marvel only publishs foil stamped, lenticular covered books like War Machine and Darkhawk… oh, wait (at least half of that isn’t true anymore)*. 

    But we understand, so check out the issues for free on our website and if something piques your interest maybe pick up a new issue or trade at your local comic shop. If you don’t fancy reading your comics on the internets, we have a $4.99 Witchblade trade which collects Ron’s first 6 issues and in January we’ll have a $4.99 Darkness trade collecting the first six issues of Phil Hester’s run. Both come highly recommended.

     Thanks to Josh, Conor, and Ron for letting everyone know about the announcement and highlighting it as a postivie move. A bigger thanks still to anyone who’s willing to check our books out and give us a fair shot. We may not be for everyone, but I think many of you will be pleasantly surprised. 

     @roadcrew1 – Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer was just announced with Mark Waid writing and Kenneth Rocafort drawing. It’ll be in stores in July.

    @TheNextChampion – Madame Mirage’s "look" was very specific to the story Paul Dini wanted to tell. There really is more than "meets the eye" with that character. I don’t want to spoil the reveal for you, but if you like Dini’s work on Detective Comics or the Batman animated show I’d be willing to bet you’d enjoy Mirage.

    @ultimatehoratio – Each "pilot issue" is like a TV pilot – a complete story, which leaves an opening for future stories. If enough people like it (i.e. vote for it) then the series continues. Genius & Twilight Guardian were the winners this year.

    @drakedangerz – We made the pledge through 2009 because we know we can make that kind of commitment. There are no current plans to raise prices in 2010, but in the current economic climate it’s hard to predict where we’ll be in 2010. 

    Take care,

    Filip Sablik

    Publisher, Top Cow Productions

    http://www.topcow.com

     

    *That’s a joke there, folks. Completely in jest. Love the fellas at Marvel, really I do.

  44. AlexG AlexG says:

    I’d be more than happy to give Top Cow a chance, so far none of their stuff appeals to me, but I’m open.

  45. @josh: No I understand why paper prices are up I just dont understand why we cant bring them down. But those articles will help me understand it better.

    @Filipsablik: No I did read ‘Madame Mirage’ and I thought it was pretty good. Not the best story Dini has ever written but still I got what he was trying to do. Still, the art really makes it feel like a Top Cow book…and thats not a compliment. Dini is known to write or talk about sexy women. I mean look at his new animated series coming out, it’s like something out of a Playboy drawing. Still I was trying to get into the story and then I see all the cheesecake in every single lady. If I was an anime character, I would’ve had my fifth nosebleed by the second issue.

    Top Cow needs to get away from that type of stuff. Marvel (somewhat) and Image are trying hard to get away from the extreme 90′s era. But Top Cow is still the same old Top Cow, big boobs and sexy women everywhere.

  46. OttoBott OttoBott says:

    @ TNC – Eh…

    I agree Evveeerryyyone needs to get away from such predominant cheesecake (as much as I’d hate to put Adam Hughes out of a job). A percursory glance at the Lady Liberators from Hulk #8 makes me think that still not much has changed though. Maybe I haven’t looked around enough.

  47. filipsablik filipsablik says:

    @TheNextChampion: Thanks for reading Madame Mirage and I’m glad you enjoyed it (even if you weren’t wild about it). I definitely appreciate you taking a chance on something new from us.

    I think we’ve done a pretty good job of getting away from the "cheesecake" aspect. As and example, Ron mentioned above I think he does a fantastic job of portraying Sara Pezzini as a realistic and well covered female lead character. Like he said, she tends to wear more clothes than most Marvel and DC women and even the Witchblade armor fully covers her up now when she’s "in costume".  We still do some cheesecake variant covers for conventions because there’s a part of the fanbase that enjoys buying them. But that’s not what we’re shipping to your LCS on any given Wednesday. 

    People’s perception of "cheesecake" varies, so I guess it could come down to your personal preference. As an example, there’s occasional implied sex scenes in Witchblade, but it’s in the context of the story and part of realistic adult relationship (no different than implied sex scenes on primetime TV). Our books are meant to be PG-13 to R-rated, so from the standpoint of an all ages books I guess there probably is too much "T&A". 

    And the characters are idealized and attractive, but it applies to both the women and the men. We believe most people want to read about attractive characters the same way they want to see attractive actors and actresses playing roles in big feature films. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to get into a larger debate or convince you that you’re wrong. Our books may not be for you and that’s cool. Just letting you know where we’re coming from.

     Take care,

    Filip Sablik

    Publisher, Top Cow Productions

    http://www.topcow.com

  48. @Flip: Wow, never got into an arguement with a Publisher before…:)

    No I’m kidding, I agree with you points too. Top Cow has done a better job with making their comics not all cheesecake. It should still try and get away with it a little bit more though. If Madame Mirage didnt have all those cleavage or breast shots, I would’ve liked the story more. No offense to you guys, or Dini, or the artist….But somethings you can have too much of a good thing.

  49. WadeWilson WadeWilson says:

    I haven’t read any Top Cow books for years. I was going to say this is a smart ass way, like "Top Cow still puts out books?", then I noticed some of thier guys posting here, so I’m on my best behavior.

    PS — I like cheese cake.

  50. "Wow, never got into an arguement with a Publisher before…:)"

    Yup, you’re certainly carving out a niche for yourself at iFanboy ;)

  51. @JJ: Yes I am….biggest jackass in the history of ifanboy. Proud of it…

     

    ….No wonder no one goes to my birthday parties :(

  52. @TNC: I never said that. I think you’re lively.

  53. @JJ: I know, just saying what I think…..

    Still wish someone would go to my birthday parties.

  54. Josh Flanagan josh (@jaflanagan) says:

    I about this saturday, the birthday thing?  I, uh…I can’t make it.  Yeah, it’s a thing with the wife.  I can’t get out of it.

    Next time! Cool? Alright man!

  55. See? Cant even get the popular kids to come….I’m stuck with drake, JJ, and FACE. :(

    lol

  56. Yeah, about that… There’s thing uh thing…

  57. Damnit! I cant even get the second coolest kid in the neighborhood….It’s 4th grade all over again! >_<

    (I like it how we have ignored Filip at this point about Top Cow and talking about a fake B-Day)

  58. zachtastic4 zachtastic4 says:

    Fuck the price increases. I love comics, but a regular sized monthly Marvel title simply is not worth 4 dollars. 3 comics = 12 bucks at that price….not reasonable as far as i’m concerned. After the sub way ride each way to the comic store that makes 3 comics = 16 bucks. Boooooooooooooooooooo! =*(*****************************

  59. Now I know this is all about Top Cow…but is DC going the Top Cow route? Or the Marvel route?

    I mean like are they going to have a price increase, or try and stay resonably cheap with the majority of their titles? I’m sure it’s going to be the first option as more of 2009 comes rolling in.

  60. Conor Kilpatrick conor (@cskilpatrick) says:

    DC will most certainly go the Marvel route, it’s only a matter of time.

  61. @conor: That sucks royal. Cause I know Didio has pubically stated he wants to try and stay far away from price increases as possible. But your right, it’s only a matter of time.

    (Ah well I dont run a comic book website, so I’m good on my spendings lol)

  62. What I want to know is why a huge 33% jump? A whole buck all of a sudden? Why not $0.25 or $0.50. At least it wouldn’t look as bad.

  63. filipsablik filipsablik says:

    Spurred by our announcement, Mr. DiDio responded to the price point question on Newsarama with the following, "When you have people investing three, four or five dollars in a book, you are asking for a larger commitment on their end, and I understand and appreciate that. My goal is to make sure, no matter what the price is, that we have an equal amount of value inside the books to match the price. That’s all I can do. So if our price does start to creep up, I want to make sure that the value is there in the books so that if there is a price increase, nobody feels cheated because of it. That’s the best I can say."

    You can read the whole thing here – http://www.newsarama.com/comics/120810-DiDio-20.html

    It’s Question #3. 

     

    Filip Sablik

    Publisher, Top Cow Productions

    http://www.topcow.com

     

    p.s. TNC, I also have prior obligations on Saturday… my wife… something about Pottery Barn…

  64. Pottery Barn…what a useless peice of….

    Oh I should stop before I cause slander :)