On Not Boycotting DC $3.99 Titles – And The Lowest Marvel Sales In Years

Posted by February 16, 2017 95 Comments

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This morning, Bleeding Cool ran an opinion piece from Vernon Wiley of Comix Gallery in Illinois. It proposed that retailers not support the move for DC’s monthly comics from $2.99 to $3.99 while the digital price remained at $2.99.

Rod Lamberti of Rodman Comics writes in response,

I confess I have always found digital comics to not be an issue. If people want to buy comics digitally they are still far viewer than people who buy physical copies. What I have always been amazed by is the pirate sites. Or sites that people go to and read comics for free. That seems foolish. After all these years I would have guessed that not just comic publishers but all publishers would have tried harder and repeatedly if need be to get sites that rip off their material shut down.

The price difference between print and digital in my eyes is a total non-issue. In the years that I have been in business no one has said I am dropping print to go to all digital. The bagged DC comics from the start of the New 52 that had digital codes simply faded away.

There have been customers that have both read digital and the physical copies. Some have actually increased their comic buying in store thanks to reading digital versions.

I do not see “boycotting” DC as an answer, anyway. I saw this when DC had the whole “hold the line at $2.99” years ago. Some people thought that meant $2.99 forever? Right now DC is the best publisher sold here instore. Not one customer here has said anything about being worried about a dollar increase. Now granted when the comic is actually $3.99 that may change.

That said I do wish I had tried just having customers with pull boxes getting Marvel only this year and part of last year. Sales for Marvel here instore are at amazing lows. We still have a few Marvel die-hards. But most of the casual Marvel fans simply just stopped coming. Nighthawk, Mockingbird, Mosiac, Solo, Occupy Avengers, Slapstick, the current Hawkeye series, and more Marvel titles no one is or were buying them off the self. Since they are non-returnable that is money wasted. The ones that are already cancelled are already in the dollar bin and still are not selling. There is no demand for them.

My thought process of having Marvel titles on the shelf quite frankly hurt my business. Why did I do it then? Because for years it wasn’t an issue. Though as they say things change and I did not see Marvel sales dropping so far and fast as they did. I always thought Marvel was hurting the industry long term with the non-stop renumbering and relaunches. Though for years instore it didn’t show that much. Yes, every new first issue of the same character was less than the previous one but I knew that would happen. Then all the sudden last year Marvel sunk big time. I started ordering what I thought was low enough but I kept getting proven wrong. Marvel kept bleeding readership. My April Marvel order is very low. Basically bare bones ordering on Marvel. Why? Because selling nonreturnable material forces us to be careful. Take to much of a risk and we are wrong we are out of business. Which if you have been reading Bleeding Cool there are comic stores closing nationwide.

Marvel seems not too creative driven but by mandates that make little sense to us comic store owners. Royals is the next Inhuman title to come out? Let the Inhumans go. They are never going to take the X Men’s place in terms of popularity. And they do not sell.

There can be at least one Fantastic Four book.

Why is there yet another Captain Marvel book?

The Avengers last relaunch was quite the stunner. I ordered up on the issue thinking there would at least be a bit of a sales bump thanks to the first issue. It truly was a jumping off point. It sold less than the previous issue. Avengers now sell in store as much as some of our Valiant titles do. That isn’t a slap to Valiant. Avengers are a known brand. They had multiple movies that millions went and seen. But for some reason the title now sells in the single digits. And to make things more confusing Marvel does the 1.1 numbering that is not popular. Just make it a limited series.

Marvel has taught their readership not to stay with a title with all the relaunches. So what if a character has a first issue? I have only been open 6 years and have lost track of all the times titles such as the Avengers, Captain America, Thor, Inhumans, Captain America, and more have re-launched.

In store DC is currently selling. There is demand. Flash I might have finally ordered high enough to meet demand. Fans of the T.V. show actually come in and buy the title. New fans. Which is great. That means having copies on the shelf is a good thing.

I don’t believe $3.99 comics is going to hurt DC. If people are entertained by a product they will still want it. If a dollar increase is enough to cause them to drop it then they weren’t really enjoying it enough to begin with.

$4.99 and higher people do complain about. Darth Maul some people skipped at that price. Some picked it up after I told them the rest of his limited series would be $3.99.

I would like to see new talent. New writers and new artists for the next generation of comic collectors. Right now I rarely see that. Do not get me wrong I love Jim Lee’s art but we haven’t had a superstar artist in decades now that get people as excited as he did at the height of his popularity.

Alright this was a quick type up after I read the original boycotting article. I will always want people buying comics. As long as it is ethical. Meaning not doing something stupid like selling a kid a copy of Heavy Metal. As a retailer if there is an audience of people willing to buy from you then by golly you sell it to them. I want to sell hundreds of copies of every comic that comes in. I am glad to read that come 2018 Marvel is signing up big name talent. I just hope the comic industry can last till then and 2017 isn’t Marvel’s lost year. That comic fans get out of the habit of picking up Marvel material and by 2018 it will be too late.

Definitely going to be an interesting few days.

Are you a comics retailer, publisher, creator, editor or distributor with something to say? Get in touch. And follow our ComicsPRO coverage over the next few days.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.

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