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Post By
Ed Love

In Reply To

Subj: Re: so many things to consider
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 05:38:58 pm EDT (Viewed 10 times)
Reply Subj: so many things to consider
Posted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 03:20:57 pm EDT (Viewed 101 times)

    Looking at the changes in prices over a time period is never really helpful, there are just so many other factors. I'd be interested to see a similar price timeline of something like Sports Illustrated.

    The cost of paper has gone a lot.

This is a biggie. In the late 1980's/early 90's, the price of paper in general went up a whole lot. Across the board, publications such as newspapers were jumping in prices.

ALSO, the quality of the paper increased. Heavier weight means more in shipping costs as well as just higher paper costs.

Related to this is the standard of printing changed, moves to offset presses. The newer and better presses meant being able to use more color (which is more ink, more cost) but also tends to REQUIRE higher grade paper.

Just in terms of the physical product, the cost of producing a comic increased dramatically in those few short years.

HOWEVER, those are the arguments for the price increases 20 years ago and invalidating using a pre-1984 comic as a baseline for comparison. It doesn't really address the whys of increasing a comic today by 30%.

    Economies of scale have disappeared. The more copies you produce, the cheaper the per unit cost. So a comic that sells 500K is going to have a cheaper per unit cost than a comic that sells 10K.

    Creators are compensated more. In the past, creators had to scrape to get buy. You'll see some older creators say that the reason they had to produce so much was because they wouldn't afford not to. Today, creators get a much higher salaries, and even health benefits. Are you going to say that your favorite creator needs a wage reduction, or that he doesn't deserve health care?

I'll argue that there should be penalties for NOT producing comics on time, that if you enter into a contract to produce a monthly comic, then the comic should be monthly. Where's the latest issue of THE TWELVE?

Health insurance? Only if you are part of staff and not freelancing and that means you work at least 20 hours a week (part-time) devoted to the job FOR the company. For creators, this means so many pages of product as given to you per the contract per week/month. The plus of being on staff, you still get the benefits if there is no work actually available to be given (ie, you're the artist and the writer dropped the ball on delivering pages and everyone else is meeting deadlines). This may mean that during slow times being drafted to produce art and copy for products that aren't comics ie press releases and such. You want the benefits of a regular job, then you treat it like a regular job. You want the benefits of it being a freelance position and being able to pick and choose your work and the amount of work you produce, then you explore other options as far as benefits go which may mean doing a lot of work that's not just doing comics to help pay the bills and get insurance.

There should be a reasonable page rate that is allowable for the majority of creators to earn a living. But, it may mean that slower creators that cannot produce at least one book monthly have to find other ways to support themselves. The company isn't making money when there's no product on the shelves. Tie in the page rate to a percentage of sales, so that if a creator is slow BUT does generate big sales regardless, then they and the company can afford their slower pace. But, everyone wins if the creators can be good AND on time. But if a book is two months late but does not bring in twice the revenue that it would if another creative team was on it and brought the book in on time is hurting the company and the bottom line and need to work somewhere else.

    Comics have moved away from seeking new readers. When you have older readers, who you know will pick up the next issue no matter what, you can increase your profit margin. Simply put, comics have moved away from mass entertainment and into a niche hobby. And hobbies are typically expensive.

The danger here is related to the sliding scales of production. As you settle into being a niche publication, it means you're settling for lower print run numbers which increases the cost per issue.

There's also less advertising in comics than there used to be 30 years ago (but a little more than ten years ago). Advertising revenue often covers quite a bit of the printing costs, a full page color ad should be able to shoulder the cost of the production of 4 color pages, maybe a little more. However, again, lower print runs and a limited readership reduce the attractiveness of comics as an outlet for advertising your product.

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