The iFanboy Letter Column – 08/27/2010

Friday means many things to many people. For some, Friday means it’s time to shave the cats. For others, they’ve got to stop those first guys from shaving the cats, and for some, it sucks to be a cat.

At iFanboy, Friday means it’s letter column time.

You write. We answer. Very simple.

As always, if you want to have your e-mail read on the any of our shows or answered here, keep them coming —


I’d love to hear what you all think of the cost of comics in relation to other entertainment mediums. For example: reading one comic takes about 20 minutes (max) to read and costs between $2.99-$3.99, where seeing a movie entertains (hopefully) for roughly 2 hours and costs between $8-$10. Throw in video games, novels, etc. and it seems that comics come in at the bottom of the cost/time spent ratio. Now I realize that more time spent on something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, but this has to be something the comic market in general must realize, right?


I don’t want you to take this the wrong way Corey, because I can see where you’re coming from, and it all seems very simple when you look at it this one way, but the thing is, I hate this question. I hate it down to the very marrow of my bones. That is because you’re trying to quantify something that should be unquantifiable. Now you have every right to decide what you want to pay for your entertainment. No one would argue that. And if “time spent consuming” is how you want to decide where to put your dollars, then by all means, go your own way, Stevie Nicks.

But is that right? To me, I don’t think so. It’s about what it’s worth to you. You might breeze through one comic in 3 minutes, and another in 18 minutes, but they both cost you $3.99. But the one that took longer might have been bloody awful. But, according to your calculations, it was a better value. Meanwhile, the quick read might have blown you away, with page after page of fast paced, and stunning storytelling by your favorite artist. I like some artists and writers more than others, so shouldn’t I be paying less for artists I don’t like as much? I can pay to go to a movie, yes, but afterwards, I’m not putting that movie on my bookshelf and I don’t have it to refer to later, unless I also go out and buy that DVD, in which case, it’s most likely that I will pay money for it, and shelve it only to watch it maybe once. I’ve got a couple hundred DVDs and Blu-Rays I paid about $20 for, and they each provided about 90 minutes of entertainment, and cost me lord knows how much in rental space they take up in my apartment.

It’s all up to you though. I read comics in all sorts of ways. They might be worth something different to me than you. Some I read for entertainment. Some are instructive on the craft. Some are by amazing artists, and I just want to learn how they do it. Others provide hours and hours of material even though they are figuratively composed of actual shit (The Sentry: Fallen Sun). Others do all those things. Some I wouldn’t have paid for in retrospect, and still others I’d have paid more for.

The price war is over. We lost. Comics are $4. If they’re not yet, they will be. Digital comics are, in all likelihood, going to be at least $2 per issue. You don’t want to pay that, and you don’t think it’s worth it, then DO NOT BUY THEM. (This is not the same as, since I don’t think they deserve my money, I am entitled to steal them for free from the internet, it should be noted.) I’ve played crappy video games for a couple hours, but the experience had less value to me, than comics I read in a few minutes. Choose wisely, and don’t pay for anything you don’t like. If it doesn’t seem worth it, then comics might not be for you. A Porsche costs a hell of a lot more money than a Hyundai, and they’re both going to get you where you want to go. By this logic people use for comics, everyone would be driving Sonatas. But sometimes, you have to pay for something because it’s that good. If it’s not that good, don’t bother, and go see another movie.

Josh Flanagan

With Marvel announcing plans to do something with the now defunct CrossGen line, I was wondering if you are excited about this news? Did any of you guys read the CrossGen titles when they came out? I personally liked Crux, Negation, Sojourn and Scion. They all had great writers like Mark Waid and Chuck Dixon and awesome artists like Paul Pelleltier, Jim Chueng, Steve Epting and Greg Land when he didn’t copy his own work. 

Cory from Cleveland, Ohio

You know, the whole CrossGen thing, for me personally, is a bit odd. First to answer your question, no I have never a read a single CrossGen book ever. Not when they were being published or after that as they’ve sporadically been released. I don’t really have a direct answer as to why I didn’t. You have to understand that at the time, the whole CrossGen thing just seemed weird (and turned out, it really was). All of a sudden this somewhat intimidating, somewhat crazy guy starts a comics publishing company, practically out of nowhere and begins hiring A LOT of top name talent and making them move down to Florida to work in their office. Folks like Mike Waid, Ron Marz and George Perez jumped ship from their current gigs at Marvel and DC and joined a large list of other comics talent (most artists I’ve never heard of) and started creating new comics, across multiple genres that were supposed to be loosely tied together via this CrossGen Sigil. For some reason, it just completely turned me off.

Now where it gets funny is that once the dust settled after CrossGen’s demise, those comics talent who I had never heard went on and started getting gigs at Marvel, DC and other publishers and very quickly became some of my favorite creators, most notably Jim Cheung (who’s in my Top 5 artists right now). So much so that as I started seeing the level of talent and names that was associated with CrossGen, and talking to my friends who had read the books, I kicked myself for blindly dismissing a new line of comics. Now I’m not sure if any of those titles published by CrossGen would have grabbed me, but who knows? Maybe they would have, or at least I would have discovered who these fantastic creators were earlier.

So what’s the lesson here kids? There are comics beyond Marvel and DC. If you see something new coming out, give it a shot. It’s easier than ever these days to sample a new comic. Look online, most publishers allow sites like ours to post previews of comics, check it out. We’ve got some great publishers like Archaia, Oni Press, BOOM! Studios, Radical and many others that are putting out some great stuff, if we just give it a shot!

Ron Richards


  1. @Josh: "Do not buy them." Well that’s the problem that people have right there isn’t it? As a life-long fan of the medium I want comics to succeed. I want the business to flourish, I want new readers to find things to enjoy, and I want old readers to find new ones. But it’s VERY hard to convince someone to try something new when one book costs as much as a fast food lunch, let along multiple books. "Do not buy them" is the problem. I’ve been collecting and reading for more than 30 years now, and I just can’t justify spending that much money every month out of my "entertainment" budget. So not only do I lose, the industry loses when readers leave.

  2. I have just started reading scion, and have the whole run minus issue 40 and 14 issues it is really good stuff and the cheung art is amazing!

  3. @DocSamson  I think Josh is looking at it from more of a purely economic perspective, wherein at some point in time the amount that the public is willing to pay for a comic and the amount that a publisher will sell a book for will even out.  By not buying books at a higher price point we are sending a message to the publishers, (whether they will hear it, is another conversation) that they have to lower their prices or big to lose readership and profits. Unfortunatly, we dont seem to have reached that level yet. 

    I know that the industry isnt a perfect model and, I realize that buying habits are heavily influenced by the consumers love of the characters, (my $50 a week tally at my LCS is evidence of that.)  But you hear writers and artists say things like that in interviews all the time in response to critics.  Bendis for sure has used the line "if people didn’t like it they wouldn’t be buying it" several times. Looking at things from a bottom line perspective is depressing but thats the way they do it.  God I’m rambling…   

  4. The only CrossGen comic I ever read was Ruse, but it was awesome. Like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, with a little sci-fi & magic thrown in (but mostly Sherlock Holmes). It was written by Mark Waid & Scott Beaty, and drawn by Butch Guise. So good. I think there were 2 or 3 trades, but the whole series was never collected because apparently a company has to have money to print comics.

  5. here’s a thought, would more readers, like a LOT more, increase prices or decrease prices?

  6. "Do not buy them" seems too drastic, but "just buy less of them" works for me. We all have books we are considering dropping.  Price hikes help make that decision easier.  A book that is barely worth $3 to me certainly is not worth $4. 

  7. I think Jason Wood did an econcomics break down on the cost of comics in one of his articles.  Or, he did some pretty convincing stuff on why comics are $3.99.  Or maybe I’m wrong.  I just know his business articles make you feel like you understand a little bit more about the business side of the industry.

    Also, Cheung’s Crossgen work, on Scion (I think), is pretty flippin’ beautiful.

  8. It’s just a very small part of a extremely braod and semantically challenged discussion, but here is the main fallacy I see in trying to judge the value of something based on such a ration. Let’s say you take, I dunno, the movie as the constant – so if a $10.00 movie lasts 2 hours, then a 20 minute comic should cost $1.67. But by the same virtue, a linear video game that takes on average 50 hours to complete should cost $250.00! What about something like Ea Sports or Civilization that can be played by some for hundreds of hours? Yikes. I think the answer to this lies somewhere in an ECON101 textbook…

  9. If the issues are too expensive, just buy the Trades/GNs. If your store offers discounts to members, you can get the trades cheaper. If you’re still hardup for cash, the prices are usually slashed by 30-40% at amazon. Or buy them used at local used bookstores … The trades end up being cheaper per issue.

    Ask to borrow friends. One of the joys of bying tons of comics for me is the fact that I get to share it with my friends.

    My library has tons of trades and graphic novels too. I get the ones I don’t want to buy. There are tons of ways to read comics without stopping all together or being a FILTHY thief.

  10. What a lot of people don’t realize (although some people who posted above DO seem to get this) is that the pricing of comics has already been settled. Right now the thresholds are mostly $3-$4. The publishers have arrived at those pricepoints right now, and they’ve arrived at them after looking over the actual sales figures and overhead. This is a done deal. It’s not like they’re being greedy or stubborn. I’m sure they’d all LOVE to sell twice as many comics for a slightly lower pricepoint each, but that scenario just isn’t a reality.

    The time it takes to "consume" something doesn’t determine its value (monetary value or aesthetic value). It’s the WORK that goes into the product + the value of the materials that = the cost. Comics are a niche item, almost like a delicacy. So of course they can’t be as mass-produced as DVDs.

    The prices of these things have already been settled. Yeah, every now and then you’ll get an oddball pricing (like $6 for a digital Iron Man comic, or $50 for a chintzy "deluxe" version of a CD or DVD), but in general prices for media have settled into sensible ranges. And if you think the prices are too high, then you just don’t understand the economics behind them. And I can understand wanting to support the comics industry no matter what, but to do so even if you don’t think what you’re buying is "worth it" is just silly.

  11. CrossGen was awesome! Shame it burnt out so fast. (One of the major reasons being its badly handled foray into digital comics distribution). Ruse and Sojourn were amazing series.

  12. Its funny how when I first started to read comics again a few years ago they were 2.50 an issue and my girlfriend said made a comment once how comics must be a great value since with 20 bucks you can only buy one DVD or one CD but you could buy several comics, and that made me really happy. But now with most comics at 3.99, its just not true anymore

  13. The "don’t buy them and they’ll lower their prices" argument just doesn’t work for me. It’s not like they’re trying to take advantage of us. They’re trying to make money so they can keep in business and continue making comics, so they have to charge that much.  The $3.99 price sucks, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to continue reading comics and they want to continue publishing them.

  14. No need to bitch.

    I just picked up The Invincible Iron Man omnibus for $21.00 on Amazon (including shipping costs). That was 19 issues in a nice oversized hardcover format.

    Bit over a buck an issue.

  15. I didn’t say if you don’t buy them they’ll lower the prices. I said, if you don’t want to pay for them, don’t buy them. They cost what they cost. It’s up to you if it’s worth it.

  16. Ruse, Way of the Rat, Sojourn, and Route 666 were all Crossgen books I would pick up again if Marvel were to relaunch them with decent creative teams.  I didn’t get into Crossgen until after the company folded, but some of the stuff was pretty good.