NYCC '10 | Marvel responds to DC's price rollback

Comparing new efforts by Marvel and DC Comics to lower cover prices isn't fair to either publisher, a Marvel representative told fans Friday at New York Comic Con.

A day earlier, DC announced it will roll back prices on its standard-size monthly titles from $3.99 to $2.99 beginning in January, a move that will cut the number of story pages from 22 to 20 and eliminate co-features from eight series. Less than an hour later Marvel revealed that its new books debuting in 2011 will carry a $2.99 cover price.

Although some Marvel representatives, like Senior Vice President C.B. Cebulski, responded on Twitter to DC's announcement -- "Kudos to DC on their price drop, but boo on doing it by cutting story pages and adding more ads. Creators now losing monthly income." -- New York Comic Con presented others with their first opportunity to field questions on the topic from readers.

And they weren't long in coming; at Friday's "T&A Presents" panel, it took just three questions for Vice President-Executive Editors Axel Alonso and Tom Brevoort to be asked about the $2.99 price point.

"Question #3!" Brevoort said. "Who had that in the pool?"

Comic Book Resources reports that he reiterated Marvel's pricing policy for new books, and disclosed that the publisher will be "contracting some of our line publishing."

"We kind of get the sense that you guys don't know which ones are the ones you should pay attention to," Brevoort said, "so we're going to be pulling back on that in the months ahead as well."

The topic also arose at the "Welcome to the X-Men" panel, where an audience member asked, to some applause, whether Marvel would lower prices on $3.99 titles. According to CBR's report, X-Factor writer Peter David "asked if fans who want to see titles drop to $2 would also like to see their local comic shops go out of business. As costs rise for retailers in terms of rent and operational expenses, he argued, books must also rise sometimes."

Arune Singh, manager of sales communications, emphasized that many titles debuting from Marvel in 2011 will ship at $2.99, and said that comparing the publisher's new efforts with DC's isn't fair to either company.

Alonso, meanwhile, noted that DC's announcement "is not without controversy," echoing Cebulski's concerns about the reduction in story pages. "It's not quite as simple as 'Drop your books to $2.99, and everything will be okay'," he said.

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