Robot 6

Is Marvel cutting pages from $2.99 books?

Marvel

If you thought some of your recent Marvel Comics purchases seemed a little slimmer than usual in terms of story pages, you aren’t alone. On Wednesday, David Uzumeri at ComicsAlliance noted that several recent Marvel titles priced at $2.99 shipped with 20 pages of story, versus the usual 22, including FF #2, Incredible Hulks #627, Herc #2 and Heroes for Hire #6, among others. It doesn’t seem to be every $2.99 title, Uzumeri notes, as some, like Avengers Academy, are still #2.99 for 22 pages.

The change seems to mirror what DC Comics has done across the board on its comics — offer 20 pages of story for $2.99. DC’s announcement came during the New York Comic Con last October and was followed by comments from Marvel executives that noted the decrease in page counts would be detrimental to creators who get paid by the page.

But Rich Johnston, who noted Marvel would be experimenting with less pages in its $2.99 books back in January, said that “creators won’t lose money on a reduced page count, as Marvel intend to increase twenty page books to thirteen issues or more a year if the creative team can manage it.” Many Marvel books already ship multiple times per month; it seems pretty standard for Hulk and Incredible Hulks, and FF and New Mutants seem to be following suit as well in July … and that’s not even counting the extra issue a year through Marvel’s “Point 1″ initiative.

Marvel hasn’t publicly commented on it just yet, but watch CBR’s Talk to the Hat column tomorrow to see if that changes.

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Comments

14 Comments

Marvel can say what they want about DC, but at the least DC is transparent in their dealings with their consumer. Marvel is all about trash talking, finger pointing, and eventual market testing at the consumer’s expense in order to see what they can get away with in terms of cutting costs.

Like either company truly cares about the well-being of their creators. Bottom line is bottom line.

Please, DC never came out and said, ‘Hey! We cut pages!’ That information was hunted for.

Anyone who thinks the drawing the line initiative was for the consumers sake needs to rethink the way they look at the world of business. 3.99 failed for DC. End of story.

@Don Winslow:

You know, maybe I’m wrong. But I’m fairly certain that DC’s original press release about lowering the price to $2.99 involved stating, flat out, that each issue was being lowered to 20 pages. If not the original press release, one of the following ones. It wasn’t hidden.

Well said Shane, let’s face it even if you don’t like anything about DC Comics the fact that Marvel continues to pull this type of bs is embarrasing and part of the reason why many fans simply want nothing to do with the current regime.

@ Shane

You are correct. When DC announced they were “Drawing the Line at $2.99″ it was clearly stated in the press release that they were lowering the page count as well.

Quadruple checked here. It wasn’t hidden, but it was brushed over. It was almost fine print, even. The only thing I can find that mentions 20 story pages is the original press release, buried in the middle of the announcement. The next press release makes no mention of it at all, only calling the books 32 page books. When asked about it later, DC said almost nothing. That’s incredibly forthcoming. End Sarcasm.

But calling the initiative transparent and all for the fans is ridiculous. DC is hoping to lower prices and increase volume. So far, it hasn’t seemed to work. People saying I should read more product from DC at 2.99 forget the simple fact that cheaper garbage is still garbage.

It won’t work for Marvel, either, but thems the breaks.

“Marvel hasn’t publicly commented on it just yet…”

No, but it was mentioned by Marvel at the retailer summit. I just figured in Marvel’s mercurial publishing plan this was non-news at this point.

Can’t wait to see how Brevoort spins his way out of this one. The Marvel bean counters probably told him – we should do the same thing – which means he now has to be the public face on this. I love it. Serves him right. This is about the 10th or 11th time he’s had to eat his own words.

You know he’ll say – but we’re letting our creators do 13 issues a year instead of 12. Which people were saying all along about DC – that creators would just pick up more work. But let’s be honest – what Marvel creator has gone on for 12 issues straight? It’s not many. Look at Uncanny X-Force. They’ve been putting out two issues a month at times. No one can do that schedule.

Marvel cares about their creators? Yea, right.

What I consider transparent is clearly announcing in a press release (and not in the small print) what your publishing plans are. DC did that clearly when they said their $2.99 books would be 20 pages. There was nothing hidden there.
What I don’t consider transparent and instead downright dishonest is when you solicit a book along with all of your other books to have the same page count and then deliver something that does not match the solicitation. Look at Marvel’s solicitations for their April books. Incredible Hulk 627 is solicited with 626 as both having the same page count. FF 2 was solicited with that same page count as well. Yet according to JK Perkin’s article above, that isn’t what Marvel delivered with FF 2 and Incredible Hulk 627. They did not have the same page counts as though other books.
That is dishonest.
If Marvel wants to publish 20 page books, I have no issue with that. But they should not give allusions to producing one thing and then delivering something that does not match that solicitation.

On that note, I think it is ridiculous that in the solicitations of virtually all of the publishers they provide a page count that really has nothing to do with the actual page count of the material the end consumer cares about. Sure, the entire package is 32 pages. But if only 22 pages are the actual COMIC story content, then that is what should be getting listed. We’re not paying to buy the ad pages. Those shouldn’t be inclusive of the page count listed. When a product says X pages, that number should be indicative of the original material that the purchaser is actually buying and not ad pages that the reader would happily discard if able.

So let me get this straight, people are killing Marvel for mirroring exactly what DC did for its whole line but in about a half dozen books ($2.99 for 20) while others remain at 22 for $2.99 but you didn’t get your precious press release? Or they are getting the exact same product that DC gives from Marvel, but because a solicit said 22 pages somewhere but it is only 20, it is kill Marvel time? Marvel can’t win no matter what they do, huh?

Don’t you just love the fact that some people just follow Marvel blindly….

There comics can be 22pgs for 2.99 one month, 20pgs for 2.99 the next, or 22pgs for 3.99 the next without any explanation. And these people still stick up for them – when they are the ones getting stooged – god, its like watching domestic abuse – when the missus won’t leave even though she is getting bashed – “but he loves me, you don’t understand!” haha….

On the plus for certain DC titles – some issues have still been 22pgs even this month! (Bat Inc #6) and Flashpoint was 34pgs for 3.99! ;)

Anyone who thinks either Marvel OR DC gives a damn about the fans or retailers is kidding themselves. Comics form such a small part of their revenue streams that I’m genuinely surprised they bother publishing them anymore. One need only look to Marvel’s disastrous attempt at self-distribution in the 90s (which failed miserably, and set in motion a chain of events that drove huge numbers of retailers out of business and eventually resulted in Diamond getting a monopoly on distribution) to see how much they value their retailers.

That being said, to criticize DC for cutting their page count to 20 for a $2.99 comic and then turn around and do it yourself, for any alleged reason, is a little disingenuous. $4 for a standard-sized comic book is simply outrageous. It is a case of gouging, pure and simple. I flat-out do not believe that there is any economic necessity for it, and I don’t understand why anyone puts up with it. If Marvel’s sales completely bottom out on their $3.99 books, they will drop the prices. Period.

Now I’m not suggesting anybody go out and buy DC titles solely as a gesture of supposed solidarity. DC is creatively and editorially, a complete bloody mess, and they have no idea what the hell they’re doing. They are doing things with their characters right now that are so mind-numbingly awful that I think in the back of my mind it’s deliberate sabotage for some unknown purpose, because it’s the only way I can picture rational human beings making those types of decisions. But I would love to see everybody who pisses and moans about how expensive their Marvel books are every Wednesday actually NOT buy them. Put ‘em back. Because you can piss and moan all you want, but if you still buy them, you’re just telling Marvel that you’re a lemming, which is what they were banking on in the first place

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