Once upon a time, DC Comics decided that their comic stories would shrink. 22-page stories, the norm through the eighties, nineties and noughties, would now be 20-page stories. It was a way to preserve the $2.99 price point by reducing story length by a tenth.
While $3.99 comics would be extra length, 27 or 28 pages long, often with a back-up strip. Or they would be the $2.99 copy with a bagged digital code.
And that's how the New 52 line launched in 2011.
Then the $3.99 comics length started to drift back to 20 pages. And the digital codes went away.
Then it was decided that $3.99 comics would be the monthly titles and $2.99 would be twice-monthly. And the $3.99 monthly comics would have a free digital code.
Then the digital codes went away and the twice-monthly titles moved to $3.99. All the DC Universe titles, save for the New Age Of Heroes line would be $3.99.
I am told that, spinning out of the recent DC Writers Summit, that DC authors have been told to start moving from 20-page stories back to 22-page stories for $3.99 titles. It looks like this is the new compact to be entered into with DC Comics and readers.
Will it encourage Marvel, who followed DC into 20-page stories for $3.99 plus digital code, follow suit?
Some comic book writers complained when the page count switched from 22 pages to 20 pages that it was like losing a story-telling limb – and of course two pages worth of fees – but it's worth noting at one point in the seventies, trying to maintain a price point, that comic stories fell back to 17 pages. And that where DC goes Marvel follows…
I note that Man Of Steel has been running 22-page stories at $3.99 with two additional pages per issue by Jason Fabok, but Justice League has been 20 pages for $3.99 as well. Batman: Wedding Preludes have been 22 pages for $3.99, yesterday's Aquaman was 20 pages for $3.99, Batman was 20 pages for $2.99.
Could the new price point per page be being eked in? Either way, writers at the DC Summit were left in no doubt that 22-page stories will be the new norm.
The New 22?