Cheap and Cheerful

Talk here about just about anything associated with British comics or story papers and the industry that does not fit in any other forum.
There are separate fora open to registered members for discussing specific comics, artists, websites etc.

Moderators: AndyB, colcool007

User avatar
babington
Posts: 267
Joined: 01 Feb 2010, 22:24

Cheap and Cheerful

Post by babington » 27 Apr 2013, 21:11

Is it me, or do comics today cost much more than they used to? The Beano cost 7p in 1980, which is equivalent, in 2013 prices, to:

£0.23 using the retail price index

£0.36 using average earnings

(source: http://www.measuringworth.com)

Clearly you won't get much for 30p now. So why don't publishers put out something at that price on cheap newsprint, or even a comic version of the free newspapers that make their money from ads? Wouldn't that do very well, especially in these economic conditions?

What was the cheapest comic price of all time? And what was the most expensive comic (at retail price)? How well did they do?

felneymike
Fence Sitter
Posts: 1901
Joined: 30 Sep 2007, 15:03
Location: Cambridgeshire
Contact:

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by felneymike » 27 Apr 2013, 21:29

We have this fairly regularly. If a comic that "ought" to be worth 20p today was selling the same numbers it was selling in the past, and was printed on the same paper as it was in the past, it would still cost more than 20p. The retailers are charging 'shelf rent' to publishers, and are forced to do that by rising rents and a losing sales to the internet (books from Amazon, or news from websites, as well as piracy).
Plus, the rules about advertising to children are far more strict these days, and as fewer people read comics, they can't charge advertisers as much.

The cheapest comic price of all time was possibly the Boys' Realm Sports Library, which cost a halfpenny in 1911. Most other formerly halfpenny comics had increased to a penny in the 1900's.
The most expensive (with regards to average earnings at the time) ones were possibly Boys of The Empire, the full-colour issues which cost 1½d in the 1880's. To the gaunt urban poor that extra halfpenny a week really meant something! There was also a tabloid-sized comic with a few full-colour pages in the late 1940's, which was a whopping 9d. Though far from being a weekly, there was probably only one issue. Then again, 2000AD now costs £2.35, and The Phoenix is £2.99, they have to be contenders even with average wages taken into account.
But I believe all of these are trumped by the obscure gay story paper HIM Gay Library, which cost £3... in 1980! For contrast, a ticket to the first Monsters of Rock festival that year was £7.50
Last edited by felneymike on 27 Apr 2013, 21:39, edited 1 time in total.

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Lew Stringer » 27 Apr 2013, 21:38

felneymike wrote:We have this fairly regularly. If a comic that "ought" to be worth 20p today was selling the same numbers it was selling in the past, and was printed on the same paper as it was in the past, it would still cost more than 20p. The retailers are charging 'shelf rent' to publishers, and are forced to do that by rising rents and a losing sales to the internet (books from Amazon, or news from websites, as well as piracy).
Plus, the rules about advertising to children are far more strict these days, and as fewer people read comics, they can't charge advertisers as much.
Plus the production costs have risen. If anyone knows of a printer, wholesaler and distributor who are willing to work for 1980 wages, I'm sure publishers would be keen to hear of it.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

User avatar
stevezodiac
Posts: 4679
Joined: 23 May 2006, 20:43
Location: space city

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by stevezodiac » 27 Apr 2013, 22:20

The IPC knockout was cheaper than all the other IPC comics at the time. But at 2p was the same as the Beano and Dandy. Probably the worst printed comic of all time too with terrible bleed through of the images - discussed elsewhere here.

User avatar
ISPYSHHHGUY
Posts: 4275
Joined: 14 Oct 2007, 13:05
Location: BLITZVILLE, USA

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 27 Apr 2013, 22:23

in the late 60s, my pocket money every week was 2/6, [12 and a half decimal pence, if halfpennies never were phased out]--for this, you could probably buy 4-6 comics of various prices.

Today, 5 comics [the same average ] would probably cost ten pounds or thereabouts.

Most other items have risen in price [but not quite as steeply as comics, which are not as mass-produced today to the same extent as a lot of other consumer goods]: over the past 40 odd years: you could buy a bar of chocolate for as little as 2p in 1971 [Supermousse/Pink Panther]: today, it's pushing 50p , so some confectionary is 'only' 25 times more expensive than the BEANO of the same era for example, which is a whopping ONE HUNDRED TIMES more expensive within the same timeframe........

In 1988, 2000 AD cost 30p, and if it's over 10 times dearer today, this means it's soared in price even more than the price of alcohol, [you could get a pint of beer around the one pound mark then [outside London] if beer prices had risen as much as that of comics, a pint would cost about 7 quid now, to put all this into some sort of perspective.
Last edited by ISPYSHHHGUY on 27 Apr 2013, 22:51, edited 1 time in total.

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Lew Stringer » 27 Apr 2013, 22:37

ISPYSHHHGUY wrote:some confectionary is 'only' 25 times more expensive than the BEANO of the same era for example, which is a whopping ONE HUNDRED TIMES more expensive within the same timeframe........
It also has twice as many pages as it did back then, and is now all in full colour. But, yes, the price has risen considerably. Unavoidable unfortunately, for all the reasons given.

The older generation has always complained about the price of comics going up. A 7p Beano in 1980? You could buy 34 copies of Comic Cuts for that in the 1890s. :lol:
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by philcom55 » 28 Apr 2013, 00:41

Then again, Dandy stayed at 2 old pence from 1937 until 1960 - that's no increase at all for 23 years - whereas runaway inflation meant that its price rocketed by very nearly 1000% in the next 20 years in order to arrive at its 'cheap and cheerful' July 1980 price of 8 new pence!

- Phil Rushton

Lew Stringer
Posts: 7041
Joined: 01 Mar 2006, 00:59
Contact:

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Lew Stringer » 28 Apr 2013, 00:52

philcom55 wrote:Then again, Dandy stayed at 2 old pence from 1937 until 1960 - that's no increase at all for 23 years - whereas its price increased by very nearly 1000% in the next 20 years to arrive at its 'cheap and cheerful' July 1980 price of 8 new pence!

- Phil Rushton

True, although the page count of The Dandy and The Beano dropped considerably between 1937 and 1960. As low as 10 pages at one point. Had it gone back to its original 28 pages once paper shortages were over I'm sure a price rise would have been necessary.
The blog of British comics: http://lewstringer.blogspot.com
My website: http://www.lewstringer.com
Blog about my own work: http://lewstringercomics.blogspot.com/

Phoenix
Guru
Posts: 5326
Joined: 27 Mar 2008, 21:15

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Phoenix » 28 Apr 2013, 01:56

This editor's notice appeared in Adventure 1391 (Sep. 15 1951), the 50% price rise taking place the following week. The cost of The Wizard, The Rover and The Hotspur went up the same week. There was no increase in the number of pages, which remained at 16 in all four papers.
Attachments
Adveditor.jpg
Adveditor2.jpg

matrix
Posts: 817
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:37

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by matrix » 28 Apr 2013, 07:02

"I'm forever blowing bubbles"! That's Fiat currency for you, markets distorted with low interest rates, etc! Look at the Roman Denarius. One day the serfs will wake up!

User avatar
Digifiend
Posts: 7279
Joined: 15 Aug 2007, 11:43
Location: Hull, UK

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Digifiend » 28 Apr 2013, 11:33

felneymike wrote:Then again, 2000AD now costs £2.35, and The Phoenix is £2.99, they have to be contenders even with average wages taken into account.
Those prices are average. Beano is cheapest at £2. Some "comics" are as much as £3.99, their prices inflated by those unnecessary cover-mounted gifts.

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by philcom55 » 28 Apr 2013, 11:44

matrix wrote:"I'm forever blowing bubbles"! That's Fiat currency for you, markets distorted with low interest rates, etc! Look at the Roman Denarius. One day the serfs will wake up!
I've got a million-Mark note somewhere that my Dad brought back as a souvenir from Germany: at the time it wouldn't even buy a loaf of bread! With memories like that I guess it's hardly surprising that Chancellor Merkel is so keen on maintaining the integrity of the Euro...I'm not too sure that that the modern-day 'plebs' who populate southern Europe see it quite the same way though!

- Phil R.

matrix
Posts: 817
Joined: 03 Sep 2011, 12:37

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by matrix » 28 Apr 2013, 12:21

Yes I think they remember it well! They are all walking a fine line!

As a matter of interest, here is a brief timeline of marks per one US dollar:

April 1919: 12 marks
Nov 1921: 263 marks
Jan 1923: 17,000 marks
Aug 1923: 4.621 million marks
Oct 1923: 26 billion marks
Dec 1923: 4.2 trillion marks
scary stuff!

If you ever find that note Phil, could you scan it for us to see?

Getting back to comics were there ever any strips relating to this?

felneymike
Fence Sitter
Posts: 1901
Joined: 30 Sep 2007, 15:03
Location: Cambridgeshire
Contact:

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by felneymike » 28 Apr 2013, 15:46

The Victoria and Albert museum has a gallery of the "bold and simple" European designs of the 20's and 30's, which includes Italian Fascist and Russian Communist propaganda booklets, and the Deutschmark notes of the era. They had simple blocks of colour printed on them, so the design could be easily altered as the value of the mark plummeted by the day.
Mind you, I've also seen a billion dollar note from Zimbabwe which is fairly intricate and complicated. But I suppose that's easy to change with layered digital designs.

User avatar
philcom55
Posts: 5170
Joined: 14 Jun 2006, 11:56

Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by philcom55 » 28 Apr 2013, 16:59

I'll let you know if I find that note. Off hand I can't think of any comic stories about hyperinflation, but it's arguable that the UK's own post-WW2 Balance of Payments crisis had a very tangible effect on the comics themselves in that it caused successive governments to maintain a ban on imported American comic books right up to the end of the 1950s. In spite of paper rationing this seems to have given established publishers something of a protected status, facilitating the launch of homegrown titles like Eagle, Girl, Jack & Jill, Playhour, Lion, Tiger, etc. (Another weird consequence of this almost-forgotten period is the fact that for a time one could only buy handleless teacups over here, while all the proper ones were automatically earmarked for export as soon as they came off the production lines!)

- Phil R.

Post Reply