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Art, Pagecount, and Price in Comics

I’d picked up the first several issues of the new Marvel Star Wars and Darth Vader comics, and while I enjoyed them “well enough,” the “new & shiny” has worn off and I’m back to the fact the things are $3.99 and not feeling as “worth it” to me. (the rapid expansion of the “line” is a contributing factor as well).

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I recently caught up on some of my reading and quickly realized how FAST I was blowing through the issues. I flipped back through and realized how there was a definite LACK OF words on many pages.

darth_vader_03b  darth_vader_03e

I love the art, and the fact it has a nicely “cinematic” look is certainly appealing–VISUALLY–but AS it does a great job, I can see it, appreciate it, but I blow right through, taking stuff in like quick single frames of a movie.

darth_vader_03c

I don’t even notice much in the way of “visual sound effects” (possibly the tradeoff for not “covering up” the art) so there’s even less to slow the eye from passing quickly over stuff, taking it in and continuing on; seeing and ‘hearing’ stuff in the back of the mind.

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Granted, for the purposes of this post I’m only providing photos of some of the pages-other pages do have a lot more in the way of dialogue/word balloons–but the fact that so many of the pages go so quick is highly problematic for me as we ONLY get 20 pages of story for the $3.99 cover price.

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[Above pages all from Darth Vader #3; below are from #4]

While I certainly like and enjoy good art in comics–for me, bad art can taint a story, but good art merely adds to a story. I buy comics for the story…without a story that interests me, I don’t care how beautiful the art “in general” is.

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Particularly when I re-read comics from the ’90s and earlier I notice just how “wordy” they seem compared to a lot of modern comics. Caption boxes, plenty of dialogue, even some labels and occasional editorial notes.

Moreso with pre-’90s comics I notice the more consistent “standard” panel layouts where panels seemed primarily contained to boxes…sure, the layouts might not be as dynamic as present-day, but having more distinct panels (in my mind and memory as I type this post) seems to mean “more” panels on a page.

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Particularly when there’s a lot of quick action in-story, just like I’m not going to hit pause or switch to some half-speed mode watching tv or a movie I don’t feel any need or desire to pause in moving through an issue to look closely at every little detail that might be present or marvel at the sheer quality of the detail, etc.

darth_vader_04b  darth_vader_04d

If you’ve read my blog at any length you certainly know that I have a problem with $3.99 as a price point for comics (especially for Marvel and DC, while I’m more lenient on other publishers). Only 20 pages for my $3.99 gets quite annoying; and $3.99 when I can breeze right through an issue in 5-6 minutes would mean I’m paying the equivalent of $40/hr for entertainment. That’d be like spending $60-$80 to watch a movie!

I can buy a prose novel–a STORY–for $8 and carry the thing around reading for those 5-10 minutes at a time here and there for WEEKS before finishing it.

Not all comics are quite so quick a read (and they are certainly of varying quality)…and as said earlier, I really like the art on these issues; it’s just that I don’t find the art alone to be enough to justify the cost in and of itself.

I was already figuring I’d cut my losses and drop the Star Wars books/avoid newer ones–I can pick single issues up later from bargain bins or I can buy the collected volumes or I’ll outright forget ’em and life will simply go on.

The page count and lack of story PER ISSUE just doesn’t work for me.

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Value of a comic

In this day and age of rebooting, relaunching, renumbering, and $3.99 comics…I find more and more incentive to quit the new stuff and go back-issue/bargain-bins only. Especially with Marvel comics.

After all, these days $3.99 will get me this:

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Or ~$3.99ish will get me these:

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Cutting the Pull List

pulllistIt’s been at least a year since I did an official, full pull list at my local comic shop. In that time, I’ve found myself buying a number of other titles–several that I just never “got around to” officially adding to the list, and some that I’ve really been going issue by issue on, consciously not wanting to put on the pull list.

After several “holy $#!^!” weeks, it’s time to really cut what I’m buying. Again.

So, here’s the list of what I’ve been buying, and what I’m cutting.

Including the DC New 52s that I had JUST emailed to my shop Tuesday morning.

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Falling Action – $3.99 for 20 pages of story?!?

justpastthestapleI read on Bleeding Cool this morning that apparently Action Comics #2 was–at $3.99–only going to have 20 pages of actual story. I posted to Twitter my knee-jerk reaction/thoughts: “Well…ok. Mood I’m in this morning, if Action # 2 really is only 20 pages of actual story content for $3.99, I’ll most likely jump ship.” “extras” are NOT “extras” when you’re paying for them. Back matter is NOT special when it’s INSTEAD OF story pages.”

That was sight unseen.

This afternoon, I bought my new comics as usual for Wednesday. And I read Action Comics #2. And it was a really fast read, albeit actually enjoyable. But it ended SUDDENLY.

You get to the staples, the MIDDLE of the issue (and there are ads scattered throughout, this isn’t like an indy book where you get a full story and then the back section packed with ads) and the NEXT PAGE is the end of the story.

There’s no “backup story” or “co-feature” even with some other character having a short story piece.

There are 8 pages following the actual story, with “behind the scenes” crap–the sort of extras that feel like a waste of my time/money. Sketches, SNIPPETS of comments from creators, FLUFF. And 2 of those pages are sketchy stuff looking “ahead” to stuff by another artist.

And of course the usual 5-7ish paged “preview” for something I’m NOT going to suddenly decide to buy just because the same thing’s in every freaking issue DC put out this week or this month.

Morrison‘s always been hit or miss for me. And though I don’t terribly care for this new take on Superman, I figured I’d go along with the ride. Even if this isn’t a Superman I embrace, I can NOT deny the story’s got a certain hook to it, and I want to read it.

Top that off with the fact that Action Comics is a title that I just the other day decided I would continue with beyond the #1, and it would get the “free pass” that several other titles did NOT in my deciding against simple clinical judgment for this.

But, this is a principle thing. $3.99 for 20 pages of story is absolutely unacceptable to me from DC. When just last week I paid $2.99 for 25 pages of story in Superman (although I didn’t even realize at the time it had those several extra pages).

So…no Action Comics #3 for me. Not from the primary market, anyway.

Walt’s Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: August 22-28

August 22 – August 28

Non-Review Content:

mynew52dcupicksMy picks of the DC: The New 52 books

My weekly participation in the Booking Through Thursday meme, this week’s topic: History

Some thoughts on the TMNT as my weakness and exception to rules I set for my own comics purchasing habits

Thoughts based on the non-Wednesday purchase of several comics, and the effect of the $3.99 price vs. $2.99 for single issues

Reviews of comics released Wednesday, August 24:

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw001Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1(IDW Publishing)

Action Comics #904(DC Comics)

Brightest Day Aftermath: Search for Swamp Thing #s 1-3(DC Comics)

DC Retroactive: Superman – the 1990s(DC Comics)

X-Men #16(Marvel Comics)

X-Men Legacy #254(Marvel Comics)

Uncanny X-Force #13(Marvel Comics)

actioncomics904searchforswampthing001searchforswampthing002

searchforswampthing003dcretroactivesuperman1990sxmenlegacy254

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Non-Wednesday comics…and why $3.99 doesn’t work

dhp003So, running low on budget waiting for pay day, having a HUGE week of new comics, PLUS an extra, extra-priced variant in my purchases…I left Dark Horse Presents on the shelf on Wednesday. However, not wanting to get backed up on the title, stopped into a regular non-“local” comic shop tonight (Friday – Payday) to grab a copy of the newest issue.

While there, I took a look at more of the comics I don’t normally buy, and ones I didn’t give much look to while in my less-than-10-minutes-with-the-commute window of time of getting comics at my LCS on my lunch break the other day.

Saw a lot of interesting-ish stuff, but seemed like most of it was $3.99+ so above my typical threshold for “just trying something new.” I did spot the DC Legacies hardcover, which I so definitely want to get, eventually. Also liked the look of a lot of the DC Retroactive issues. Unfortunately, though…those are all $4.99 apiece, which is rather expensive for one new story (assumedly about a normal-issue’s length) and a reprint of something I probably already have (particularly the 90s books).

Now, I just finished reading Brightest Day vol. 2 a few days back, and kinda itching to get ahold of vol. 3 (as well as the 2-volume Generation Lost series). And I noticed the 3rd/final issue of the Search for Swamp Thing. I’d already been spoiled on elements of the ending–I knew Swamp Thing’s back in the “regular” DCU, and Constantine as well. AND as it’s also been awhile since my last Hellblazer purchase, but I wasn’t up for dropping $20+ in addition to DHP…Search for Swamp Thing stood out.

searchforswampthing1to3I checked the recent-releases shelves: there were several copies of #2 left…and one single, last copy of #1. For $2.99 apiece, all 3 issues available…I don’t know if it’ll be part of the Vol. 3 hardcover of Brightest Day (fat chance when so many collected volumes these days adhere so rigidly to only an exact title, rather than a STORY) or if at all (given we’re just days away from the DC Reboot with the New 52)…but it was less than $10 (I expect even a PAPERBACK collected volume’ll run $9.99 if not $11.99) for the 3 issues…I bought the series.

In a day ‘n age where I mostly refuse to buy minis as single issues, and where I very rarely will even buy something spur of the moment off-the-shelf (non-Wednesday comic shop runs tend to be me looking for very specific items only)…

Probably the BEST thing a comic can do is be priced at or under $3. For $2.99, I’ll be open to trying a single issue, where for $3.99 I’ll put the thing back on the shelf. (double or more-sized special issues of relevance I might consider $5ish, but those don’t tend to be spur of the moment). And here, an entire mini series: firstly, the shop had ALL THREE ISSUES in stock, no need for special orders or asking for copies or looking in the back. And most important of all: $2.99/issue. I didn’t just buy ONE issue, I bought THREE. And this was INSTEAD of the $3.99 Superman Beyond #0. For $1 less PER ISSUE, I bought 3 issues instead of a single $3.99 issue.

Gets me thinking, at least.

A quick 2nd-to-last week of 2010 comics rundown

deadpool30 While making my usual trip to the comic shop during lunch on Wednesday, I–along with my pull-list books–bought a small stack of old Archies to give coworkers in place of Christmas cards.

The next day, I wound up at another comic shop in search of Vertigo Resurrected: Shoot (which I should have picked up several weeks ago when I saw it at a friend’s local shop in Michigan). After rejecting several cool/interesting-looking Marvel books due to the $3.99 price (I’ve lost track of how many sales Marvel has missed out from me on impulse sales alone, for that $3.99 point killing any impulse). I spotted Deadpool #30 and saw that it was a tie-in to the just-wrapped Curse of the Mutants story from X-Men.

Seeing the cover—DP’s grin and the label “Vampire Hickey”—was sufficiently amusing as to draw me in. And the book remaining at the $2.99 price point was enough to get an impulse sale there. (Not too thrilled that this 2-parter begins the same week the main story ended, though).

Continue reading

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