I'm a big fan of comics and I have been since I was a teenager. I started off with Judge Dredd then moved onto Superman before falling in love with X-Men. Over the last few years my comic buying has tailed off mainly due to the writing not being so good but also partly due to the expense. Recently however there have been some great comic runs from some excellent writers and artists that have kept me coming back for more. Which brings me to my problem. I just can't afford to read a lot of comics and I don't see how anyone else can either.
When I started reading comics it cost 70p (I'm in the UK) a comic. So for a fiver I could get my hands on a good bunch. Certainly enough to get my comic fix. Today I could maybe buy two for that price. Inflation I hear you cry. I can't expect comics to stay at the same price they always were. That's fair enough but here's the problem. Today there are so many fun mediums to grab my wallets attention. Books. Movies and games are the biggest culprits. Recently I found a Star Wars comic series that I had been looking to read for ages. I bought three issues and it cost me £9. Reading the three comics took probably no more than 30 minutes at a guess. To compare prices I could have bought a Star Wars book at about £6.99, a DVD for about £10 or even an Xbox or Wii game for a bit more than £10. Every one of those mediums would have entertained me for at least 2 hours. A game or book is a significantly better entertainment investment.
I know that comics must be expensive to produce but I would hazard a guess that movies and games cost even more. The problem is that comics don't have the circulation figures that they used to. The chances of circulations improving are pretty limited due to what I see a as a major pricing problem. It's ironic as the characters in Marvel and DC comics are featured in blockbuster movies every year and yet they can't get their circulation numbers high enough to offer reduced prices .
So whenever the comic shop checkout guy or girl tells me the price of the comics I'm buying I tend to flinch a little. So what to do? I love reading comics but it's looking less and less like a good idea. I'm considering going digital. They're bound to be a lot cheaper right? To buy them individually they're not much cheaper than the hard copies. They do have a subscription plan though. $9.99 a month or $59.98 for a year at Marvel comics. That doesn't sound too bad to me. With the subscription plan I could read as many comics as I wanted. I could read all of the hard to find comics that my local comic shop doesn't stock anymore or that are too expensive to buy. And I could read a whole X-Men saga and still afford to pay the mortgage.
Switching to digital could hurt comic shops but then maybe if more people are reading comics more people will be buying toys, DVDS and books about the same characters which all of the comic shops stock these days.