For the Price of a Comic Book – When I was a kid the price of a comic suddenly, after twenty-five years, went up by 2 cents. That was two whole pieces of bubble gum. From the start and throughout the 1940’s, 1950’s and half the 1960s, a comic book cost one dime (10-cents). In 1962, the price went up to 12-cents. Today a 15-page comic book will cost you $4, but it is actually worse than it seems as I demonstrate below.
I did some checking and it looks like the best bargain for comic books was in the late 1950s and 1960s. It was also the best time for comic books (period) – the Silver Age.
What was the US dollar worth in 1942 when Action Comics #53 and the others cost 10-cents? According to an inflation calculator found here, that would be equivalent to spending $1.50 today.
But wait it is worse than it looks… Back in the 1940s, comic books cost 10-cents and for that amount, there would be 60+ pages containing five or so features. In the mid-1960s the price of a comic book went to 12-cents. The books then were 30+ pages and had usually one and sometimes two features. Now, a print comic will cost you $3.99 with its digital cousin selling for $2.99 and it will be less than 20 pages in length.
But wait it is, even more, worse than its looks… the new Rebirth “Justice League” is published twice a month and each issue costs $3.99 print ($2.99 digital), with each issue containing about 20 pages. That is an 800% increase when you compare that with paying $8.00 in today’s money for 40-pages a month in 2017 with buying the same number of pages per month 50-years ago, in 1967, for 88-cents in today’s money.
If comic books were priced the same in 1967 as they are today, that 12-cent comic book would have cost me $1.10 in 1967 money. That was more than double my weekly allowance at age twelve. Just remember, that without me and all the other 12-year-olds in 1967, who could afford to spend 12-cents for a comic book, there would not be a comic book industry today.
Below are shown covers of Action Comics every 100th issue starting with issue #53 in 1942 and ending with issue #52 in 2016. I show the price of the comic and then show the value of that amount in today’s money. (I don’t mean to be confusing with the number of the last issue that I chose, but the numbering for Action Comics changed between 2011 and 2016 and was 1 through 53. Now they are back to the old numbering and the current issue in July 2017 is issue #904.)
1942 #53 10-cents ($1.50)
1951 #153 10-cents ($0.94)
1959 #253 10-cents ($0.84)
1967 #353 12-cents (0.88)
1975 #453 25-cents ($1.14)
1984 #553 75-cents ($1.77)
1990 #653 (still only) 75-cents ($1.41)
1999 #753 $1.99 ($2.93)
2007 #853 $2.99 ($3.53)
2016 V2 #52 $3.99 ($3.05)
Here is an ad from the late-1970s when Action Comics cost 35 cents an issue and 10-issue subscription would cost $4.00 then. In today’s money, $4 (1977) is equal to $9 (2017). What does it actually cost today for 10 comic books? 40 dollars