Price Bumps and Backups

By now, everyone knows that prices of most of DC’s and Marvel’s comics are going up from $3 to $4 — a fairly significant increase, especially during a bad economy. DC, at least, is trying to do something to soften the blow for readers — they’re bringing back the backup feature. There will be more pages per issue, with an extra, shorter story after the regular story.

So far, it looks like Blue Beetle will appear in the back of “Booster Gold,” Manhunter in “Batman: Streets of Gotham,” the Question in “Detective Comics,” the Metal Men in “Doom Patrol,” and Ravager in “Teen Titans.” Black Canary and Captain Atom may be picking up backup features in other comics.

On the bright side, DC is going with characters who already had enthusiastic fan bases, which is going to be appealing to fans who were unhappy with the cancellations of “Blue Beetle” and “Manhunter” or who wish popular but little-used characters like Renee Montoya had a bit more exposure.

But on the other paw, the main features will probably end up getting shortened to make space. Creators who are used to telling their stories with 22 pages may have to get everything done in 18 pages or less.

And of course, a big issue is whether backup stories can succeed. While a lot of DC’s heroes got their starts as backup characters, comics that have backup stories in them are not always very popular — they were accepted and common in the Golden and Silver Ages, but since then, they haven’t tended to be popular with readers.

At any rate, DC deserves a gold star for trying to make the price increase a bit more palatable for cash-strapped readers. Marvel has ended up looking like the bad guy here — first, they increased their prices before DC did (though the increase was probably inevitable for both companies — and don’t be surprised when both companies eventually increase prices on all their books, instead of just a few), and second, they didn’t offer anything extra to along with the increase — no extra pages or backups, just an extra buck out of readers’ wallets.

So whatcha think? Are the price boosts a good idea? Will backup stories make you more likely to accept the increased costs?

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  1. swampy Said,

    April 8, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

    the marvel price increases were on four main titles and mini-series, but not all of their titles went up…was anyone surprised by any increase? not me…