In his wide-ranging annual Q&A with ICv2.com, Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley touches upon the state of the market, digital comics, kids’ titles and the company’s approach to events like the upcoming Siege and Heroic Age.
However, considering the amount of online chatter devoted to the subject, what may draw the most interest are Buckley’s comments on the impact of price increases on some Marvel titles:
My number one priority is to deliver a product that’s compelling to the consumer. In order to make sure I’m providing that quality product, we had to go through some pricing strategies that affected specifically that quality product. The pricing strategies on our limited series and other products have not changed; $3.99 is what it was over a year ago. We did not take an overall price hike. The $3.99 pricing was mostly focused on our top selling books which involve a variety of different quality issues. They have improved quality from art to production to creators. In order to maintain that quality that’s what we need to do to keep the health of the business. It may affect the bottom third of my circulation, I’m not going to deny that. We think those books performed pretty well but we also did not take the pricing tack of $3.99 with those books. If they perform well we’ll keep on publishing [them]; if they don’t they will not keep on publishing, we will cut down on our line a little bit. So all in all I understand the concerns but for me to keep their business healthy and for us to keep our business healthy we have to make sure that we have the best product we can provide. We can’t go backwards; that’s not at all acceptable.
The remark about the “bottom third” appears to acknowledge an economic reality for the audience: a limited comics budget.
But the lower-profile books may not be the only ones hurt by price hike. ICv2.com, a retailer-oriented news and analysis site, previously has noted that some of Marvel’s $3.99 — Ultimate Comics Avengers and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, in particular — are experiencing steady sales slips. Others like Dark Avengers and New Avengers, however, remain top-sellers.
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