Howdy, gang. I’m Filip Sablik and I get to live this fanboy’s dream of waking up every morning as the Publisher of Top Cow Productions. Troy Brownfield was kind enough to invite me ramble on occasionally as part of the new Blog @ Newsarama. I was originally planning on starting off with the obligatory introductory post letting you know who I am, but we’ve been getting some attention in the last week online because of an announcement we made recently. And since only my mom and my wife are really interested in hearing me talk about myself, I’ve decided to talk about Top Cow’s pledge to maintain a cover price of $2.99 in 2009.
If this is the first you’ve heard about this topic you can check out Matt Brady’s interview with yours truly HERE. I’ll wait.
Oh, you’re a faithful Newsarama reader and you’re already familiar with the topic? Great. Then let’s get into it.
For the most part the reaction’s been really positive. Fans and retailers seem to appreciate that a publisher is at least addressing the growing concern over rising prices on just about everything. But as it is on the Internet, where would we be without some cynical responses and pointed questions?
So, I thought I’d share some of the thinking that went into making this decision. It’s a tough market out there. There are a lot of titles both old and new on the shelves each week and more and more collections and graphic novels as well. You only have to look at Diamond’s monthly market share reports to see there’s a growing trend of the bigger companies squeezing out the small by sheer volume. At the same time, you have an economy in recession, unemployment is at a high point, and everyone is uncertain as to what the next six months will bring.
We talk about this stuff all of the time internally here at Top Cow. We love making comics and creating original properties. For the most part, we don’t do licensed books, and despite some of our recent successes we don’t count on money from licensing or other media. We love making comics, it’s the core of our business. So how do we compete in the current market? We focus on giving you (the fan, our customer) more value. Even at $2.99, it’s not a small amount of money to pay for a bit of four-color entertainment. Our announcement to hold the line on our cover price is part of a larger plan. A plan to give you more than the competition. Rather than encouraging our creators to spread out stories over six to eight issues, we’re going in the other direction and pushing for more concentrated, satisfying stories. Ron Marz is writing his first six-issue arc in Witchblade (125-130) in 45 issues, and only because it’s a story we’ve been building toward for over two years. We’re adding pages of bonus back-matter material like interviews, articles, previews and behind-the-scenes commentary. We’re adding new features and content to our websites and reaching out directly to the fans. We’re committing to long-term creative teams on Witchblade and The Darkness to give a sense of continuity and quality to our flagship titles. We’re pulling back from conventions to make sure our books ship on time. We’re offering $4.99 introductory trades for Witchblade and The Darkness and value-priced Compendiums with 50 full-color issues.
And yes, our pledge to keep our cover price at $2.99 in 2009 is part of that added value. It’s not altruistic. I won’t pretend it is. My sincere hope is that it will help you give a Top Cow title or two a try. Can I guarantee the price won’t go up the following year? If we gain readership for our titles, it’s certainly possible. I can guarantee we’ll do our best to keep our prices as affordable as possible for as long as possible.
The thing that scares me the most is the thought of an existing comic fan getting fed up with the rising prices of a title they read currently and giving up on comics altogether. That’d be like stopping going out to eat just because your favorite pizza joint raised the price on a large with sausage and peppers, rather than checking out the Tex-Mex join around the corner (but then again, I love comics and I love food). So give a Top Cow book a shot, won’t you? Just try it out for a month or two instead of a book you’re just reading out of habit. Let me know what you thought about it here. You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.
I know I was…
(but more on this in later posts)
Filip Sablik is the Publisher of Top Cow Productions, Inc. He’s been in the business for eight years and is turning 30 this month. Occasionally, he does a bit of writing and drawing. He loves comics.
Top Cow Productions, Inc. was founded by Marc Silvestri, co-founder of Image Comics. Top Cow currently publishes its line of comic books in 21 languages in over 55 different countries. The company has launched 20 franchises (18 original and two licensed) in the industry’s Top 10, seven at #1, a feat accomplished by no other publisher in the last two decades.