What Price Anthologies for DC Comics – And The Creators?
Bleeding Cool has pointed out that DC Comics appears to be moving closer to an anthology model of publishing. Both in Future State and the comics to follow, there is a definite switch from a 20 pages-for-$3.99 model to a 60 pages-for-$7.99 price point. This is more like European publishing model for the newsstand. It is notable that comic books were dropped from the US newsstand when that was more of a thing because they were too low a price point, compared to magazines, for shops and distributors to deal with.
I just got the new Viz Comic, double the page size as well as the number of pages, it also commonly has a story that takes up two pages, one pages or half a page, but with around twenty panels a page. This is a comedy/satirical magazine with a bite that makes MAD Magazine look like a mewling babe, and is Britain's bestselling comic by far. While DC Comics is clearly not moving to this model, it does at least show a potential for unmet sales. This is also closer to the Walmart and Target anthology/reprint model that DC Comics recently published, albeit it relegated to the collectables section rather alongside other printed matter.
So what are the implications if DC Comics is moving closer in this direction? I understand that DC Comics move to an anthology model isn't popular with some creators, and it's an age-old problem. Royalties for the sales of a comic book will have to be split between more creative teams., with the back-up teams getting a cut now denied to the central creative team, despite the central team being the main attraction.
I remember this being a point of contention on Marvel Comics Presents when people were buying the comic for the lead Wolverine story – but everyone got an equal share in the royalties. I remember Simon Furman being very happy that his She-Hulk story ran alongside Barry Windsor Smith's Weapon X as it paid for his trip to America that year.
But the complaint is much older – did you know that the royalties on the B-side of any single were the same as for the A-side? Even if it had a different composer or performer? People were kicking off about this over fifty years ago.
For the New 52, back-up strips in the $4.99 were often done by friends or close colleagues of the central team, so there were few hard feelings. But the current line-up has attracted writers and artists from all over, as part of DC Comics' earlier talent search which originally would have seen fruit in DC's 5G line, with creators signed up and now being assigned anthology work on the upcoming titles.
Basically, there's a lot of grumbling. And not just from the people having to fork out eight dollars for the latest Batman comic.