Robot 6

$2.99 across the line, new letter columns, Milligan on Red Lanterns top DC announcement onslaught

Wow, DC Comics has returned from the holiday break with a vengeance. On its multiple blogs and here on CBR, the publisher has unleashed a veritable avalanche of announcements and initiatives for 2011.

Topping the list is the announcement, first mentioned by DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson and then expanded upon by Jim Lee, that DC will be holding the $2.99 price point across its line for all standard format ongoing series from both the DC Universe and Vertigo.

Meanwhile, PR guru David Hyde unveiled the return of letters pages to DC’s comics, presumably in the place of the current DC Nation column. Letters will be collected from both snail-mail submissions and messages submitted to the publisher’s new website.

Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee spoke to CBR’s Kiel Phegley at length on both topics. DiDio argues that the return of the letters page will foster an increased sense of community among the company’s readers, while Lee echoes the suspicion voiced in many quarters that the now-abandoned $3.99 price point was breaking the weekly-comics habit for a dangerous number of consumers:

But more importantly, we were concerned that for a lot of fans we were breaking them of their love of comics. If we kept increasing the price point on these books, rather than making a decision of whether they’d buy one book over another, they’d just give up the hobby all together because it’s too expensive. We really wanted to make the point that DC is very aware of this and that we want them to stay. We want them to continue buying comics, and we want to make that as economical for them as possible.

DC also broke some news about specific publishing projects as well. For starters, Peter Milligan will be launching an ongoing Red Lanterns series as part of the company’s already flourishing, movie-enhanced Green Lantern franchise, starring Atrocitus and company and getting to the roots of the Red Lantern Corps’ rage. Meanwhile, you’ve already read here at Robot 6 that Joe the Barbarian artist Sean Murphy will be joining Vertigo’s hit American Vampire with a variant cover for issue #13 and interior art for a spin-off series coinciding with the main book’s new World War II storyline.

Clearly, the publisher has hit the ground running in the New Year, with the “$2.99 across the line” announcement in particular a hefty salvo in the price (and PR) war with its crosstown rival — and hopefully a shot in the arm of the dwindling Direct Market; and the Red Lanterns announcement a sign that DC is following up its “Return of Bruce Wayne”-fueled expansion of the Batman line with a similar boost to its other most popular franchise, Green Lantern.



I am hopping aboard the DC train this year and the $2.99 titles really helped that decision.

If Allred wasn’t already committed to iZombie, I would love for him and Milligan to re-team on Red Lantern Corps.

So that means they’ve got to keep to the price for at least a year, right? Right?

The letters page thing excites the hell out of me, though, I must admit.

Red Lantern Corps? I’m in.

$3 is still too much.

I can buy mainstream magazines with more pages or a paperback novel for $3.

Justify the expense, or find a comics reporter who can do it, or find a way to go back to $2.

Milligan on Red Lanterns?
DC finally got me to care about this whole clusterfuck.

Some people have questioned the need for letters pages in comics when we have internet message boards and comment sections. Makes me wonder if people are going to be discussing the letters featured online as well from now on.

I can buy mainstream magazines with more pages or a paperback novel for $3.

Just to inject some facts into this discussion:

According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which monitors periodicals, the average cover price of an American magazine in 2008 was $4.70.

$4.70 > $3

According to R.R. Bowker, which monitors the book industry, the average price of a mass-market fiction paperback was $5.79 in 2002. More up-to-date figures are not available free of charge (as far as I can tell), but I imagine the cost has increased rather than decreased.

$5.79 > $3

Obviously, some new items could still be under $3 given that’s the average. Unfortunately, information about standard deviations, etc., were not immediately available.

If you are referring to used or reduced material, this discussion changes entirely. We all know that slightly older comics are available for $.25 to $1, and new material is available from online vendors for way under cover price.

I want the Drawing the Line at $2.99 as a poster without the copy on it. AWESOME!!!

I too plan to buy more DC books at the reduced price. Good for DC.

If DC plays their cars right they just might be able to take the number one spot from Marvel.

The time is ripe. Marvel is putting out the same crap they have been and saturating the market with a bunch of Cap and Thor books that no one wants to read.

DC’s line also seems a lot more diverse as Marvel cancels everything that doesn’t sell within the first couple issues.

The Red Lantern Corps is definitely one of Johns’ more interesting creations as of late, and I really like that they put Peter Milligan on the title. Unfortunately even with the price drop I’m still in the process of whittling down my pull list.

DC and Marvel need to realize that the pamphlet is dead. They’re selling to a dwindling audience. Constantly. If they want to survive they need to start selling BOOKS, not little magazines.

Until then, they’re going to be fighting over fewer and fewer buyers.

This struck me as a quaint throwback… which kind of sums up much of superhero comics right now.

Action Comics Weekly might have been a concept whose time hadn’t yet come, but maybe something like that is needed now, in place of “floppies”. I’m a recent convert to collected volumes, chasing up several limited series I passed on and getting on board with Runaways at last. UK Marvel editions take several related titles, and combine them in a single monthly volume (or so it appears), and that might be a way to proceed for the non-digital audience. Maybe two “star” stories per volume, comparable to single issues of old-style comics, and two shorter “back-ups”, in a paperback style cover with added relevant material – movie info, LETTERS PAGES…

Just a thought. Nothing will ever beat the in-the-hand experience (ooer) that a digital reader can’t provide…

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