Marvel Back Issues Online
Marvel Comics is putting back issues of its comics online, hoping to lure young fans. Excelsior!
Marvel Comics is putting back issues of its comics online, hoping to lure young fans back to their medium.
It’s a tentative move onto the Internet: Comics can only be viewed in a Web browser, not downloaded, and new issues will only go online at least six months after they first appear in print.
Still, it represents perhaps the comics industry’s most aggressive Web push yet. Even as their creations — from Iron Man to Wonder Woman — become increasingly visible in pop culture through new movies and video games, old-school comics publishers rely primarily on specialized, out-of-the-way comic shops for distribution of their bread-and-butter product.
The publisher is hoping fans will be intrigued enough about the origins of those characters to shell out $9.99 a month, or $4.99 monthly with a year-long commitment. For that price, they’ll be able to poke through, say, the first 100 issues of Stan Lee’s 1963 creation “Amazing Spider-Man” at their leisure, along with more recent titles like “House of M” and “Young Avengers.” Comics can be viewed in several different formats, including frame-by-frame navigation.
D.C. and Dark Horse have already gone online, although not nearly to this extent.
My guess is that the primary audience for this will be older readers with a nostalgia for the comics of their youth. The comic companies have long since abandoned the casual young reader for collectors and speculators.
When I started reading and collecting superhero titles avidly in 1977, each issue cost 30 cents with double sized annuals going for 50 cents. Adjusting for inflation, those books should be $1.03 today. Instead, new issues are cover priced at $2.99 and $3.99, depending on the paper stock. That means new comics have outpaced inflation by a factor of 3 or 4.