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Comics: Midlife Crisis

posted Feb 5, 2015, 10:19 PM by Vu Nguyen

CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS (Digital) (03 Feb 2015)
DC Comics
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NBC's Constantine is based on the DC/Vertigo comics Hellblazer. The show regularly airs on NBC on Fridays at 8pm. The comic was also the basis of the Warner Brothers movie Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves as the chain smoker. ...
As a sign of how old I am, my first comic book that I purchased with my own money was Crisis on Infinite Earths for $0.75, 30 years ago. I bought it from Yunkee, because I was drawn to the many characters in the books. I believe the Crisis #3 was on newsstand at that time period, so I was actually missing issue #2 for a while (but obviously I've tracked down the missing issue at a comic book store - Sierra Comics and Books in Clovis, California). I have very fond memories of the series, read #5 in the bathtub (to this day, the comic has water damage), blown away by the death of Supergirl, followed by the death of Flash (Barry Allen). Wow, this was amazing comic-changing stuff! There was no internet, there was no Previews; the only way to find out what was happening was to visit a newsstand (because the comic book store was usually too far for me).

Having said all that, and excuse me if you think I do not understand the digital age (because I will agree with you), but selling a digital collection of Crisis for $19.99 is way, way too much. The digital collection came out this week, February 3rd, 2015, previously you had to purchase each issue individually, priced at $1.99 each. In both cases, you're going to spend around $20 to $24 to get the entire story... which I think is just too much.

I understand the real cost is the content, but I will argue with you that after 30 years, believe me when I tell you that DC Comics have already made their money on these comics, whether it is through various printings or different formats or licensing it to foreign countries. I've personally contributed over $200 to DC, just in the Crisis line...

I know that kids these days probably have more money than when I was a young - but the entry way for me into comics were the fact that it was inexpensive. Comics were still under $1 for most newsprints and it was affordable for me. Current pricing for most new books ($2.99 or $3.99), I think is just too much money. While there is really no way to reduce the cost of the flimsies, due to the rising cost of paper and ink, I believe they should focus to digital. Make digital the entry point by reducing the price to 99 cents or lower. From my personal experience, the flimsies were usually an entry point for me - if I enjoy a series, I'll end up buying more books from the same creators or getting the deluxe hardcover down the road.

Look, I'm not negative on all things digital, here are some companies that are doing it right:

  • All new Marvel Comics comes with digital codes.
  • Buying CDs/Vinyls from Amazon will also grant you digital version.*
  • Buying new Bluray, I usually prefer to get the "Ultraviolet" version.

  • At the end of the day, my point is that I just don't see the value of paying $20 for bits and bytes, especially when you get none of the benefits of print (lending, re-selling, showing it off...) The tradeoff is, of course, is convenience, portability, and updateable (for example, they raised the resolution on old Comixology comics and updated typos or initial errors). Since there's virtually no cost to digital, I believe this is the perfect opportunity is to get fans into comics by making that affordable (especially for really old titles)... and they'll be hooked in and will buy more of your books in the long run.

    * Limited to certain record labels. And oddly enough, when Amazon bought the popular digital comics retailer, Comixology, they made it worst by removing in-app purchasing from iTunes. They basically lost a bunch of digital comic fans overnight.

    Vu's Crisis Collection
    (I have more, this is just a small sample).