Comics Creators

Digital Comics


Well it depends, most of this week’s is archive material but there are brand new ones like one of the confusingly branded X-Men Gold books. It’s almost certain they’ve made the production costs back on the floppies on those though so they can’t really lose money.

From my knowledge there are no overheads at all with hosting a digital comic. Comixology host and prepare the guided view and then keep 30% of the price (for small press stuff via Submit they keep 50%).

The big question that Jim raises and I don’t know about is royalties for creators, they will literally make a penny as far as I can see.


Like you said upthread, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them are loss-leaders. Like if they lose, say 10c a copy on the X-Men Gold trades, they’ll make 20 or 30 on Demon Bear, and hope that enough peopel buy both to offset

That’s fair, of course, and it’s hard to tell because comic creator contracts are not well-documented.


I think they must assume there is little crossover between the print and digital buyers. If that’s true it makes sense, if not then bricks and mortar retailers will suffer as they are having to charge $20-30 for stuff that is online the same day for 99c.

It could be, with webcomics we’ve seen people buy collections even when they are online free forever.


It’s worth considering that in many ways, people who shop in comic shops aren’t Marvel’s customers. Marvel sell physical books to Diamond and other distributors, who sell to shops, who then sell to people.


For the last few years it’s been murky on how digital was going to be adopted. Like CD’s where the physical copy was rendered obsolete, or like DVD’s where the drop is more gradual, or are they completely separate, digital really being a brand new market.

Given that comic revenues are going down I think it’s safe to say at this point that digital has indeed cannibalized print sales, but only to a minor extent. So it’s quite possible these digital sales don’t impact print sales very much, that the markets don’t overlap significantly. Still, it really undervalues the worth of comic books. I just don’t think it’s smart business, but then maybe there’s evidence that says otherwise.


Marvel do still protect comic shops by refusing to drop issue prices for at least 6 months even though other publishers do it after a month. So I’m thinking they may have more analysis on trades, as we see in this forum even from old school comics fans pretty much everyone is buying books online. If you look at the Diamond numbers for trades (which are direct market only) they are pretty small.


The sales have dipped in the last couple of years, at least initially after day and date digital started they went up which suggested not too much cannibalisation. Then again that was issues v what they are doing here with trades. It’s also hard to tell if all of that is just quality (sales went up or down across all platforms because the books are good or bad).

The value thing is weird really. If you are new to comics and see a new single issue of X-Men Gold for $3.99 or a collection of 5 very recent issues for 99c (which are $1.99 each in issues in 'recently reduced) it could well be a head scratcher.


Demon bear is stunning. Be interesting to see how the pages look in digital.
The Captain Marvel issues I read on Marvel Unlimited and weren’t bad - worth a dollar.


Is this uK only?


No, it’s global (99 cents each in USD). There’s a banner on the main homepage (they rotate so you may have to wait a little while for it to appear).


The X-Men Gold (vol 0) collection is pretty cool. Ten issues of 1990’s X-Men by Joe Kelly and Carlos Pacheco (mostly). I don’t know how it holds up today, but I loved this run at the time.


Even if it’s old comics? Comes a point where it’s not worth it. I’m looking at a bookshelf of comics - must be thousands… I don’t even want to think of how much money was spent. Somewhere among them are issues of Codename: Stryke Force that are certainly worth far less than what I paid for them.

I actually bought the Sienkiewicz New Mutants run in floppy form a few years ago from Mile High or some other online back issue seller. They were cheap, and Bill didn’t make any extra cash from that.

I’ve missed out as I haven’t kept up with this thread, but I’d buy that New Mutants Demon Bear collection at that price upthread (even though I have a monthly Marvel Unlimited subscription).


Marvel already measure the value of their old books by giving you access to all of them for $5 a month. It’s like the value of old TV shows.

Still it’s getting harder to justify $4 per new floppy with all this cheap digital content.


The complication is that they are a mix of new books and new editions of old books. That New Mutants trade is actually still down as a pre-order at Amazon for $19.99 (official release date April 10th as comic shops tend to get them 2 weeks earlier).


I don’t need cheap digital content to make me question the value of new comics.


Do you question the value of the skill of the creators? Most comics don’t even break even and most creators are earning close to minimum wage. Only a handful of new comics, maybe the top 30-40 each month offer enough sales for a decent salary for all creatives involved.


I fully believe creators should be paid what they’re worth. Sadly, it’s a capitalist world and what they are worth has little to do with how good we individually think they are and everything to do with how many units their corporate taskmasters can sell.

It’s the corporate taskmasters I have issue with.

(The same is true for all art, not just comics.)


Exactly. Next week I expect Star Wars vol 7 will be on this offer. For 99c I can get a digital collection of 6 x $3.99 comics, the last of which came out in February. That’s crazy.


You know that’s a cop out answer, right? You the fan want to consume their work. They have a small fan base and so have to charge a premium in order to cover their costs. You have a problem with that, but the alternative is they work for nothing or do something else. It’s no different from a small band charging more for t shirts and CD’s. The fact that comics are published by Marvel or DC is irrelevant, each product has to have a return in order to continue to be viable.

Corporate taskmasters can’t make fans buy more books. In the majority of cases comics aren’t economically viable at all and are being subsidized by large successful books or corporate coffers. The corporate ’
‘taskmaster’ is actually the good guy in this industry.

Which is why reducing the value of digital comics could be very destructive. We’re in a comics recession and stores are closing, something that’s been widely predicted over the last few years. If there’s not a change in dynamic the comics industry as we know it could soon be over.


In my experience, they don’t.

Other than that, I agree with your points. And you’re right, it was a cop-out answer.

What I should have said was, if a creative team can’t make a comic that enough people like enough to pay $4 for, the sad reality is they probably should do something else. That’s true whether it’s Matt Garvey or Marvel’s superstars. Because it’s a capitalist society, and until we change that then art has to pay its way.