Cheap and Cheerful

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by AndyB » 28 Apr 2013, 17:48

Besides, to point out the blindingly obvious, not only is it several times more expensive to publish a 36-page comic using full-colour litho on magazine paper than 20 pages of newsprint of which 4 were fairly basic colour, 8 were single colour, and 8 were black and white, the reality is that the newsprint comic will not be competitive - and that was the downfall of Classics from the Comics. It was also the downfall of Buster which relied on basic colouring in four colours for too many pages - even ignoring the reprint content, Buster was simply hopelessly uncompetitive with the Beano and the Dandy, let alone the rest of the market.

Competition requires substantial investment to make an attractive product that stays ahead of the market, and a 1980 comic will not cut it. It may well be a victory for style over substance, but it is unavoidable.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Phoenix » 28 Apr 2013, 18:40

philcom55 wrote: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!
That claim sounds so ridiculous, Phil, that I must press you for proof. And as for the period being almost-forgotten, well that certainly is nonsense! There are many millions of people still alive in this country alone who lived through it. Of those people born in 1950, for example, only the females will even have reached the official retirement age.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by philcom55 » 28 Apr 2013, 19:46

I agree that it sounds ridiculous. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't heard it from a lot of people who worked in the local pottery industry at the time (I was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent). As for the period from 1945 to 1959 being 'almost forgotten', I agree that it's an exaggeration: it just seems that way when I hear social historians fresh out of University talking about the period as though they were there.

- Phil R. :)

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Anorak783 » 28 Apr 2013, 20:31

I remember a comics convention I was at many moons ago where the late Will Eisner stated that the reason Superman sold a million copies a month was because it only cost ten cents. In Will's words: "ten cents was always cheap". He believed that if a 64-page comic could be manufactured again for ten cents with national distribution, it would sell a million copies.

Whilst I miss traditional paper-based publications I believe online publishing is, ultimately, the way forward. But the publishers need to accept they need to charge minimal unit costs and chase high global sales to achieve decent profits. At the moment, probably looking back to the glory days of CD sales (which are far, far cheaper to produce in bulk than vinyl records), they want to charge the same, or even more, as newstand costs. Do this, and they'll only encourage piracy.

The success of the iTunes Music Store shows what will happen when the price is right.

And we need a broader range of stories, like the old days had, too.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Digifiend » 28 Apr 2013, 20:57

AndyB wrote:Besides, to point out the blindingly obvious, not only is it several times more expensive to publish a 36-page comic using full-colour litho on magazine paper than 20 pages of newsprint of which 4 were fairly basic colour, 8 were single colour, and 8 were black and white, the reality is that the newsprint comic will not be competitive - and that was the downfall of Classics from the Comics. It was also the downfall of Buster which relied on basic colouring in four colours for too many pages - even ignoring the reprint content, Buster was simply hopelessly uncompetitive with the Beano and the Dandy, let alone the rest of the market.

Competition requires substantial investment to make an attractive product that stays ahead of the market, and a 1980 comic will not cut it. It may well be a victory for style over substance, but it is unavoidable.
I would've gladly paid £3 instead of £2 to have Classics from the Comics in full colour magazine paper. They made a mistake not trying that. It would've allowed everything to appear as originally published too.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Lew Stringer » 28 Apr 2013, 22:05

Anorak783 wrote: Whilst I miss traditional paper-based publications I believe online publishing is, ultimately, the way forward. But the publishers need to accept they need to charge minimal unit costs and chase high global sales to achieve decent profits.
Speaking of which, I presume everyone here is supporting Aces Weekly? A 7 issue sub works out at just £1 an issue: http://www.acesweekly.co.uk/home

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Phoenix » 28 Apr 2013, 23:04

philcom55 wrote:I agree that it sounds ridiculous. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't heard it from a lot of people who worked in the local pottery industry at the time (I was born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent).
I have no idea how teacups were made in the Potteries at that time, but it really doesn't seem to me at all sensible to have added an extra stage to the production process. Whether that was to add handles to those intended for export, or merely to remove the handleless ones to a separate warehouse, that process will have cost the firms money unnecessarily. It must have been cheaper to put handles on the lot of them. It is, of course, possible that the buying nations, possibly in China or other far east countries, didn't actually want the handles, and had so stipulated, but that would tend to mean that you had misunderstood the tales from the pottery workers. I'm going to a massive antiques fair at the Reebok next Sunday. There are always many specialist pottery dealers there, so I'll ask a few of them if they can shed some light on the matter.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by PaulTwist » 28 Apr 2013, 23:59

Digifiend wrote:I would've gladly paid £3 instead of £2 to have Classics from the Comics in full colour magazine paper. They made a mistake not trying that. It would've allowed everything to appear as originally published too.
Me too. In fact, I'd pay £5 a month for that, or £3 a month for it in its original format. £2 was a ridiculously low price for it.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Phoenix » 29 Apr 2013, 01:43

PaulTwist wrote:Me too. In fact, I'd pay £5 a month for that, or £3 a month for it in its original format. £2 was a ridiculously low price for it.
Presumably Thomsons felt at the time that they had no option but to close the title down. This, quite simply, will have been because not enough people were buying it, even at £2. The fact of the matter is that if the cover price had been set at £5, or even £3, the title would have gone to the wall much earlier than it actually did. The companies producing comics are, and always have been, at the mercy of a fickle buying public.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by matrix » 29 Apr 2013, 03:23

Phoenix wrote: The companies producing comics are, and always have been, at the mercy of a fickle buying public.
Always? Some comics especially the late 40s, the 50s, and the 60s, (and maybe earlier?) Had a consistant format, with long running stories. I would hardly call the public that fickle then? I agree after that things changed, maybe the companies did nor react quick enough? :)

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by ISPYSHHHGUY » 29 Apr 2013, 08:57

Technology usually means items come down in price: a relatively recent development like blu-ray discs can be picked up cheaply already in some cases. However some items like hi-fi seperates are much more expensive now----the emphasis is more on throwaway consumer goods which keeps the economy going.

But yes, ever-dwindling comics sales sadly mean a relative increase in price to cover production/distribution costs.

There's no going back to the newsprint/ben day colored-dots printing: readers want glossy goods nowadays.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Phoenix » 29 Apr 2013, 09:43

matrix wrote:Always? Some comics especially the late 40s, the 50s, and the 60s, (and maybe earlier?) Had a consistant format, with long running stories. I would hardly call the public that fickle then? I agree after that things changed, maybe the companies did nor react quick enough?
I said companies producing comics because it was the most appropriate on this thread, but I could have said companies producing anything they want the public to buy. All producers everywhere will put a price on their goods, and there is no essential difference between a dinner service at £150 in John Lewis and a three-piece suite at £1500 in the same store. Those prices are offers that the public can accept or reject depending on their personal circumstances, their need and their assessment of the value to them that the prices represent. Whichever way you look at it, it is still a version of the old bartering system. However, given that the haggling process has been removed, the trick is to get the price right in the first place. Unlike John Lewis though, comic producers are unable to resort to a clearance sale to clear unsold stock because their product is ephemeral. All they can do is put their prices up.

Earlier in this thread I posted an editor's note about a rise of a penny a week on the cost of each of the Big Four, in which he refers to the unit cost having been retained against a background of a seven-fold increase in the cost of the paper used to produce them. I suspect that sales of millions per week over that period will have been a major factor in the company's decision not to increase prices earlier, but it certainly wasn't a further thirty years before the price went up from 3d to 4d, and so on. Of course there were a number of other reasons for these later increases, but the basic issue is always the same, the unit cost must be high enough for the producer to make an acceptable profit, yet low enough to retain roughly the same number of buyers, not necessarily the same buyers. When sales of his product start to fall away, the producer cannot be entirely sure why, but he will see the public as fickle, and his last resort will always be to pull the product.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by matrix » 29 Apr 2013, 14:41

Phoenix wrote:Earlier in this thread I posted an editor's note about a rise of a penny a week on the cost of each of the Big Four, in which he refers to the unit cost having been retained against a background of a seven-fold increase in the cost of the paper used to produce them. I suspect that sales of millions per week over that period will have been a major factor in the company's decision not to increase prices earlier, but it certainly wasn't a further thirty years before the price went up from 3d to 4d, and so on. Of course there were a number of other reasons for these later increases, but the basic issue is always the same, the unit cost must be high enough for the producer to make an acceptable profit, yet low enough to retain roughly the same number of buyers, not necessarily the same buyers. When sales of his product start to fall away, the producer cannot be entirely sure why, but he will see the public as fickle, and his last resort will always be to pull the product.
Your editors note, a perfect example of inflation, due to the war, held back as you say probably due to sales.

I agree with your post that sales will eventually drop away, but you have to admit there were times of stability and satisfied customers.

Since coming off the gold standard in 1971, the markets have become so distorted and minipulated with inflated bubbles everywhere, being able to print when want has caused a lot of devaluation in most currencies affecting everyone.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by Marionette » 03 May 2013, 11:45

When I started collecting Tammy one of the things that struck me was how it started out in 1972 with 40 pages for 3p. By the time of its cancellation twelve years later it was 32 pages for 20p. That's almost seven times the price for four fifths of the content, so in real terms it went up by 800% over its lifetime.

One of the things I noticed a while back with buying old American comics was how the back issue market was so flat that I could regularly buy a copy of, say, Wonder Woman from the 1960's for pretty much the same as the latest issue cost. It's the same for most British comics, except there's so few current equivalents to compare with.
The Tammy Project: Documenting the classic British girls' comic, one serial at a time.

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Re: Cheap and Cheerful

Post by philcom55 » 03 May 2013, 12:03

...What's more, some glossy reprint volumes of American Silver Age titles can actually work out more expensive than a complete run of the original comics!

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