When CBR’s Kiel Phegley interviewed Marvel CCO Joe Quesada for the latest Cup O’Joe column, it was inevitable that Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 would come up. Although Marvel announced last week that the 80-page comic would be released simultaneously in print and digital format, they quite deliberately did not say how much the digital version would cost. So Kiel asked a direct question and got a direct answer:
The Iron Man comic is over 60 pages, and in print it’s priced at $4.99, but on average for that kind of page count, we would have priced it at $5.99 or broken it up into three $2.99 issues. Our comics on the Marvel App are priced at $1.99 and the way the annual is written it breaks up nicely into three chapters perfectly, so that’s how we’ll break It up in the app. So, when you do the math on this one, the direct market comic shop has the advantage in price on this one, and we’ve already received word from retailers that they feel this is the best way to set this test up.
Quesada also made it clear that he thinks retail will continue to be the dominant channel, with digital comics bringing new readers to brick-and-mortar stores—and bringing old ones back:
One would have to assume that because of the overwhelming popularity of the iPad Marvel App, there are people who have it who may never have ventured into a comic shop or perhaps lost interest in comics many years ago and are curious as to what’s been happening in our fantastic universe. The hope is that we capitalize on that and the high profile of Iron Man, get readers interested in this single story and from there, if they want to purchase more or purchase that issue, they are directed to comic shops.
So it sounds like this is a limited test, not a grand plan to start releasing all their content on digital at the same time it comes out in print, and that Marvel’s strategy instead is to use digital to boost traffic to retail stores.