DC Comics Begins the Move to $3.99 in August

Beginning in August, DC Comics will follow Marvel's lead and start charging $3.99 for some 32 pages comic books. Previously, DC had held the line and only charged $3.99 for 40 pages comic books (usually with co-features).

This is not unexpected news.

We've talked a lot about comic book pricing around here. Jason Wood wrote an excellent piece on the economics of $3.99 just last week and I began contemplating a world of $3.99 comics two years ago when Marvel first began (quitely) raising their prices.

Newsarama did the heavy lifting on this story and as they note, the price increase hits the entire spectrum of DC Comics. Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1 will debut at 32 pages and $3.99, American Vampire will actually decrease from 40 pages to 32 pages and see a price increase from $2.99 to will remain at $3.99 (as well as the lose Stephen King as the co-writer), and a good portion of Wildstorm books are already priced at #3.99.

I'm sure this is news that no one wants to hear (hell, I don't want to hear it – I spent between $50-75 each of the last two weeks at the comics store and that's with half my books at $2.99), but this is the reality we're living in. The comic book reading audience is not large and both DC and Marvel have either new or more involved corporate masters now.

Day and date digital comics can't come fast enough. (If they ever come at all, as Augie de Blieck's excellent column this week examined.)


UPDATE: Right now the 32 page DC Comics books that are set at $3.99 for August are:

Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1
Time Masters: Vanishing Point #2
The Mighty Crusaders #2
Welcome To Tranquility: One Foot in the Grave #2
Tom Strong and Robots of Doom #3
Kane and Lynch #1
Ides of Blood #1
Gears of War #13
Fringe: Tales From The Fringe #3
Free Realms #12
X-Files/30 Days of Night #2
American Vampire #6


I imagine that, like Marvel Comics, DC Comics will roll out the price increase slowly across their line of books.


  1. CRAP!

  2. Talked to two former comic readers last night, while drinking way to much. Each of them said they’d like to read comics again, but the price is keeping them away. They were talking about three dollar comics. I didn’t have the heart to tell them most comics were four bucks these days.

  3. Well, that will definitely make me switch to trades on American Vampire. Few pages for more money? That’s messed up.

  4. Damn!!! I had already cut my list in half… I guess I’ll be cutting it in half again come August.

  5. NOOOOO!  I’ve been in the same $50-$75 boat all month. (completely shattering my New Years Resolution ) I just started reading DC with a force, largely because of the $2.99 price tag. Oh well.  Guess I have a couple more months to sample.  I will keep reading DC, but I will have to impose some cuts both on them and on Marvel. Lame.

  6. Wonk wonk woooonk.

  7. Yeah I’ve cut my pull list pretty significantly over the past year. I recently made it a hard rule not to buy miniseries anymore until they come out in trade, and only with a discount.

  8. I’d like to see Augie more involved with iFanboy.

  9. I made the move to all "digital" comics when Marvel jumped to $3.99.  My pocketbook is much happier. I will give my money back when I can download actual digital comics for $.99-$1.5 a pop. Otherwise its the shady side of the internet for me. 

  10. I want someone to sell me current digital comics.  I am ready to give my MONEY to the first firm that gets its act together.

  11. @Stuclach: I agree I would go from spending $0 a week to up to $20 a week if I could get $.99-$1.5 digital comics.  

  12. @nmoline: It’s going to more likely be $1.99.

  13. @conor:  Seems overly pricey for 20 minutes of enjoyment with no ink, paper etc…  But how long will the $1.99 last before we see it at $4.  

    I need to find an analysis of comic industry profit margins to get a realistic understanding of why the price is increasing so rapidly.  Is it the cost of printing, writers, illustrators etc…?   

  14. And the world keeps on turning…

  15. The digital comics are looking a lot more feasible to me right now. Maybe I should invest in an iPad.

  16. @nmoline  The average album is 13.99 at best buy, and on itunes it’s 9.99. The average comic issue now from the big two is 3.99 and digital will most likely be 1.99. thats what we call slashing a price in half. but if you think it’s too much then don’t buy it. no ones forcing you

  17. The really horrible part about this is indie and some of smaller titles may suffer as people have to choose between their devotion to the big name mainstream books over the smaller properties and indies.

  18. I was going to stick with DC in singles while switching over to Marvel’s (superior) trades, but that’s looking pretty unlikely now. Sorry, GL, Booster Gold, and assorted new books I’d like to read!

  19. @Roi:That is why people don’t buy albums, they buy individual songs on iTunes.  Look at the iTunes album sales numbers compared to individual song numbers.  If you sell something for $.99-$1.50 people will purchase it out of impulse and you will sell a high enough quantity to make more profit then selling much less at $4.00 a pop.  

    Comic book Piracy will be as out of control as music piracy in the next year; if they don’t get a handle on prices.   

  20. Bulky, awkwardly-large files like Longbox and Graphicly’s are worth about $0.99. I’d pay $2 for a .cbr in a heartbeat though. 

  21. @OttoBott I agree .cbr and .cbz are perfect.

  22. See, this is the kind of thing that makes people step back and say “I’m already spending $20-40 each month on comic books, and they want to charge a dollar more per issue? Maybe my time and money could be better spent elsewhere.” Some people might drop a comic or two, but I can see this being the kind of thing that makes people realize how expensive their hobby was already, and now walk away from buying comics all together. Sad.

  23. I’m fine with this. Don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me.

    It was a given that the prices were going to stay at $3.99 at some point. Props to DC for keeping their titles at $2.99 longer then people thought they could. Will this make me look at titles a bit closer? Sure. But this won’t make me scream ‘DIGITAL’ or just drop comics all together.

    Now if it went to $4.99…..then we have problems.

  24. Sorry DC Comics, I’m going to trades. Regardless of how long it takes for you guys to bring those out.

  25. LMFAO!!! I GUESS THAT’S IT FOR ME. (drops EVERY DC except for GL and the occassional heroine spotlight comic)

  26. inevitable but still crappy. Every week when i go to a comic shop I have to put back most of the stuff I pull for myself because i just can’t justify the costs. It also raises my expectations for every issue I buy. I’d prob buy twice as much stuff if they were still $2 or so. 5 comics for $20. Thats a lot of money for things that are printed on some of the lowest grades of paper in the publishing industry. Gonna make it tougher on lesser known creators and new characters. 

    As much as i’ve been trying to get back to singles i can’t afford it. I’m going all discounted trades from now on. If they release digital stuff that has an iTunes like ease i’ll get on that. Back to reading my stories 6 months after the fact!

  27. "Oh Crap." – Hellboy.

    It really just means that I wean off what I like and stick to what I love. And waiting for the trade means keeping more of my money because we all know trade waiting doesn’t guarantee a purchase. Its only if you really miss it and want it.

  28. I’m surprised DC took so long to do this. I can easily understand DC doing this on their marquee titles like Flash, Superman, GL, and Batman, but I hope they don’t expect me to fork over $4 for lesser known, although very good titles like Batgirl, Red Robin, Gotham City Sirens, and Magog.


  29. Does anyone know if this applies to DC’s two biweeky books(Brightest Day & Generation Lost)?  I really, really hate to say it, but I think I may have to stop getting monthly books.  The slight majority of the books I buy are DC, and this is going to add 20 bucks to my monthly bill at a time when I don’t have a lot of dough.  It’s gonna be tough to actually go through with it though, I’ve been reading monthlies for about 20 years now.

  30. bi-weekly, sorry about the typo

  31. Wow. The $2.99 price tag was THE reason why I got into DC and image book (instead of marvel) when i started last October. sorry b&m comic stores, I guess I’m going all pre-orders online now

  32. I’ve updated the original post with the list of $3.99 books set for August.

  33. i quit smoking so i could buy more comics. guess i could start smoking again and buy less books! (this logic doesn’t make any sense)

    in all seriousness, im sure they upped the price because when marvel did it or whatever sales were barely effected. but yea im a DC dude so this sucks but I have dropped my weekly issue buying to about 2-4 books a week so whatevs, not like i’m buying a shit ton a week. 


  34. Marvel already proved that a lot of the anti-$3.99 talk was bluster.

    Sorry brothers and sisters, we are addicts.

  35. that’s too bad. i stopped buying the avengers books because of the price. i already switched over to dcbs to save money… might have to start cutting books if they go up in price on me.

  36. I’ve been moving my pull list to DCBservice.com since preorders are 40-75% off. I guess I’ll be moving more now…

  37. As you said Conor, this was an unfortunate inevitability. The thing is, DC got no discernible benefit from having co-features in their books. Marvel still dominates the sales each month and, were I DC, I would look at that and think the co-features are merely extra cost for no extra benefit. I suspect the most immediate impact from this move will be in the mid- and lower-tier DC books; which will suffer as fans opt against buying that one extra book so they can keep buying all their top books at the higher price.

  38. I spend about $120 a month on comics, which is (roughly) 35 issues, or about 8 a week (some weeks more, some weeks fewer).  At an extra dollar an issue, I’m looking at about $150, which isn’t a huge increase.  If I drop ten titles, I’d be spending the same amount I am now and getting slightly less enjoyment.  Is maintaining my current level of enjoyment worth an additional $20 a month?  Alternately, what can I spend that $20 a month on that would give me the same level of enjoyment?  Assume that I will read each issue multiple times, and spend time storing and sorting them (an aspect of the hobby that I enjoy).

    Can I go to a movie for $20?  My ticket will be $13.  My popcorn will be $7.  My water will be $3.  That’s if I go to the theater around the corner, so that I don’t have to park or take a bus.  The price is the same, and I will only get to enjoy it once, unless I go to Iron Man 2, in which case I won’t even have that.

    I could buy two albums from iTunes, but I’m not much of a music person, and I don’t get the same kind of pleasure from music that I do from comics.

    I could buy a hardcover book, which will take me longer to read so I will enjoy it longer, but I already have a giant stack of books I don’t have time to read.  The greater time to price ration is actually a detriment to my pleasure, in this case.

    I could buy a graphic novel.  This is a solid idea, but I find that I really like the variety that I get from reading many different comics every week, and graphic novels don’t provide that.

    Because I like high quality food, I can’t get a truly enjoyable, memorable dinner for $20, so that’s not a trade-off.

    I could buy a Blue-Ray disk (almost), but I can already get any movie I want from Netflix and I don’t get the same pleasure out of owning movies that I get out of owning comics.   

    In the end, my $20 a month wouldn’t be better spent elsewhere.  In six months, I probably won’t even notice it.  The only argument that I could see against it is that it might keep me from buying random issues to sample, but most of the impulse buys that I make (like Secret Avengers #1) are already $3.99, so that’s not a real objection, either.  Frankly, if it’s a budget issue, I’ll likely just forego one coffee a week, and call it even.  I suspect that this will end up being like the gas price hikes of a couple years ago: we’ll all bitch and moan about it, but we won’t drive all that much less, and we certainly won’t fix the underlying problem (that paper comics are expensive to produce).

    I’m slightly more likely to read the reviews on iFanboy before I buy my comics, to reduce the likelihood that I’ll buy something crappy on impulse (like Secret Avengers #1).  I could recoup half the expense by not being an iFanboy member, but given that I get more than $10 worth of enjoyment out of the site already, that seems like a bad trade-off, as well.

    No, I’ve made up my mind not to complain about this price change.  I’d just feel like a hypocrite when my buying habits don’t change, anyway, and who needs that?  Instead, I choose to embrace the change and support an industry that I care about in these tough economic times.

  39. This isn’t the end of the world for me. It’ll make me slightly more selective, but that’s been happening gradually for years now. I used to buy everything on the shelves and bitch about all the shit I hated. Having slimmed my pull list several times recently, I find I’m appreciating the comics I do read more, because the quality of the work vastly outweighs the quantity.

    The argument against that used to be that I would lose touch with the continuity of my dropped titles, but with this crazy thing called the internet I can keep up with titles I’ve dropped but still have mild interest in. If a favorite creator moves to one of those titles, or I read an article online that peaks my interest, I give it a shot. If I choose to stick with it, I simply drop my least favorite title.

    It was hard at first to be more selective, but in the end it’s almost a healthier way to read because I enjoy almost everything on a weekly basis. I don’t know a single person who isn’t struggling financially right now. Sacrifices need to be made. It’s not easy, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading comics. 

  40. Damn Quinn, that was some serious analysis/rationalization.

    I’d say the only thing that doesn’t hold up is your hardcover section. If you didn’t have the single issues coming in weekly, you would have more time for reading the hardcovers.

    Being selective about anything you buy is a good thing.

  41. "American Vampire will actually decrease from 40 pages to 32 pages and see a price increase from $2.99 to $3.99"

    Isn’t American Vampire already $3.99?  That’s what kept me from picking it up in singles at least until I saw some reviews.  Or did it start at $3.99 and have a drop to $2.99?  I see on your comics list from last week it’s $3.99.

  42. @JoeFX: You’re right – I fixed it.

  43. Excellent digital comics article over at CBR, I’ll keep an eye on that next week to see if there is a follow up

  44. I think it’s sad that we as readers sit here and complain and yet we still plunk down our money every week.  For some reason I think of the cigarettes opening of "Clerks".  When everything is all said and done, the guy still asks for a pack of cigarettes.  I’m more of a trade reader myself, picking up a monthly once in a while either to test it out to see if I want to get the first trade or if it’s an event and I want to be reading it along with everyone else.  But still, I think what also worries me is that the price jump was an entire dollar.  Not 25 cents, not 50, a buck.  Does that mean when prices go up again they’ll hit $4.99?  I realize companies want to make money, but dragging their butts on the digital comics released on the same day as new comics and then raising prices during the worst economic disaster since The Great Depression, and it seems to me that greedy monkeys are running the company.  But sadly, in the end, we are as much to blame, as we will still buy them.  If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.  Wait for the trade, drop it all together, just don’t plunk down your hard-earned $4 for a 10 minute read.  It feels like they’re only thinking of the "right now" rather than the future.  Not only will some current readers drop comics, but what parent is going to buy their kid a $4 comic?  A time will come where digital downloads will be the only thing saving them.  That and maybe trade sales.  But do note, even some trades have gone up in price.  Marvel likes collecting only 4 or 5 issues in a trade now whereas it was always 6, but you’re paying the same amount if not a buck or two more now.  Why do I think that his is the 90’s equivalent of the variant chromium covers?  I worry that in the long run, this could hurt the industry and perhaps they see the download side as their safety net to be used at the last second to save them.

  45. I’m trying not to complain as such, primarily because this is not unexpected.  With the trends of the past couple of years it was inevitable.  However, it’s a kind of tipping point for me.  Until about 6 months ago I was at least managing to keep my four weekly comic purchases to 100 pounds, it’s now regularly around the £120-130, which is too much of an increase to justify.  There’s gonna have to be a cull.  However, is this going to mean that the big two will stop putting out so much different product, so many new spin-offs and oneshots??  Are they going to at least take the pressure of the fan who feels he needs to buy everything in order to keep up with the bigger story (long since got over that need myself)? I think probably not.  I think they’ll probably actually increase their output until it finally reaches some kind of breaking point.  Which worries me, as I still find I love this mad medium we call comics…

  46. This is not surprising news, although I wish they would keep the co-features going as I’ve really enjoyed them.  Hopefully, this is a price point we can remain at for a while because if these get any higher, I’m going to have to start making more drastic cuts.  Hopefully, by then, there will be othe revenue streams in place for me to choose from.

  47. That’s all the titles in August going to $3.99?

    I’m sure there will be more in the future but…..that’s nothing. Other then Emerald Warriors and American Vampire, this doesn’t effect me at all.

    Again I’m it’s different for a lot of people and DC will bring more titles to the new price but. August is not bad for one person at least. 

  48. Well, the point is that soon, maybe within a year or two, all main stream comic books will be $3.99. This announcement just reminds us of that fact. I know personally $3 vs. $4 tended to be a breaking point. Somehow 3 comics for under $10 is really different than only being able to get 2 comics for under $10 (and a whole extra dollar for walking around money, woohoo!). At this point I am a big DCBSer and I will only regularly buy $4 comics from them, as $2.30 per book is a number I can digest. At the shop I will occasionally buy a $4 fill-in of something I failed to pre-order, but impulse buys of $4 comics just don’t happen except for a very rare, blue moon. This industry-wide increase will have the biggest effect personally of pushing me completely out of the LCBS, which is sad indeed.

  49. If people don’t pay $4 then they’ll stop making them cost $4. Simple as that.

  50. I’m phasing out floppies, after more than 20yrs of weekly buys.  I’ve dropped my purchases already by 80%.  It makes it hard to visit this site.

  51. every book will be spoiled for me as I will definitely wait for the TRADES!!

  52. i think im going to drop some books…..and save me some money for in-n-out burger, get me a double double

  53. @hellblazer–i’m gonna drop some books and get a few beers (and double double’s afterwards) =)

  54. WOW-anymore, I try to limit my 3.99 books to the Indie publishers.  I still don’t like it, but is seems more reasonable for smaller indie companies.  Plus they dont usually clutter the issues with ads

  55. Fuck!

    Well, Sorry Wonder Woman, I was gonna give your book a whirl but that’s not gonna happen now.

  56. Let’s see, for $4 I get 32 pages of comics. For $10, I get 200+ pages of manga in a nice, bookshelf-worthy form.  That’s a hard sell.

  57. I think they’re just starting with new properties so I’m guessing most things are safe at $2.99 for a while.

  58. and for all you value conscious readers…lets not forget you’ll still get your ads and previews stuffed into those 32 pages. One of my recent comic purchases had 2 previews in it and a seemingly short main story. More money less actual content? maybe. 

  59. According to this list, it looks like most of the books I read from DC will still be $2.99, but I know it is just a matter of time.  I switched to trade on quite a few Marvel books when they went to $3.99, but unlike DC, Marvel is much faster to put out trades, usually.

  60. So long, single issues!

  61. Someone stopped smoking cigarretes to buy comics! Awesome, comics do make a difference 🙂 If only more people read them 🙁 maybe we would not be paying so much, its like we are paying extra to be an exclusive club.

  62. If I remember correctly, in the past few price increases comics went from $1 to $1.25 to $1.50 to $1.75 to $1.99 to $2.50 to $2.99.  Does anyone know why the companies didn’t opt for an increase to $3.50 instead?

  63. @Kmob: because they’re pricks is why!

  64. This makes me pine now more than ever for a GOOD online service that will sell me digital comics that I can sync and read on my computers, iPad and even my iPhone when I’m in a pinch. For that functionality and portability I would be willing to meet their $1.99 price point. I think for the first while these companies are smart to try and get half of what you would pay for a print copy…however, if it does prove to be a success and they really want to make a dent in the industry they’ve gotta drop it down to the $0.99 mark in my opinion. Then my pull list may even increase from what it is now.

    Now that pretty well every publisher is up to or soon will be at $3.99 though, it is time to go through my pull list and terminate with extreme prejudice and really start reading more in trades and just giving up on books that I don’t REALLY like. Obviously I’m not surprised by this news, but it still saddens me. 

  65. I’ll just have to apply the same principle that I do with Marvel.  As long as there are 2.99 titles and 3.99 titles with the same amount of pages I’ll buy the 2.99 titles I want first and be extremely judicious with any 3.99 titles (the only 32pg/3.99 books I’m buying now are the Marvel cosmic minis).  I would’ve almost definitely bought Emerald Warriors and Time Masters at 2.99 but now I’ll check them out and likely not get them.  There are plenty of other cheaper books I enjoy.

    When everything is the inevitable 3.99 I’ll just be a dollar more selective about everything I buy.  I’ll keep reading comics so long as there is room in my budget and I enjoy them.