Posts Tagged ‘Marvel’

Hemp and how it could save comics

Posted: January 31, 2011 in comics
Tags: , , , ,

I’ve been talking a lot about the cost of comics lately. Just about every customer I talk to has had to cut back on the number of books they read due to cost concerns. Trimming down to just the bare minimum, usually sticking with a certain character or team. There are a bunch of weird side effects of this that I have been noticing especially of late. Those people who stick with their favorite character often become disenchanted with the books they read because they keep reading that character no matter how awful the story might be. I have noticed a much higher level of comic book satisfaction from the people who follow creators as opposed to those who follow characters. For the most part, if you know you like a persons work, it doesn’t matter what they are writing at the moment. You are going to like it. I’ve started taking that road when shopping for comics. I follow people like Brian Wood, Gail Simone and Ed Brubaker to whatever book they are working on at the time. I wasn’t really excited for the “Fear Itself” event this summer until I heard that Brubaker was the mastermind behind it. Reading books that are good as opposed to sticking with your favorite regardless of how good it is can help keep your love of comics alive and in the process, make you a more satisfied consumer.

That doesn’t really address the issue with cost though. I can help you find books you will love but that doesn’t mean much when you can’t afford to buy them. I’ve been doing some research about pricing trends especially where comics are concerned to try and combat the “comics cost too much” argument. I agree that $4 a book is a lot to pay, especially if you consider comics disposable entertainment as so many do. I see a lot of people pointing at Marvel and complaining about the cost of their comics and trades and hardcovers. On average Marvel books are around 20% more expensive than their competitors. For a long time I looked at it as corporate greed but I have changed my assessment of late. But we will get back to that in a moment. First I want to mention DC’s new PR campaign, “Drawing the line at $2.99.” That is some extremely clever marketing going on there and at first, I was stoked to see one of the big companies listening to their fans and doing something proactive. I thought, “why can’t Marvel do that?” Now I’m thinking “What is the reasoning behind this?”

From my limited perspective it seems to me that both companies see comics as something of a loss leader. They keep making books and creating characters they can put on tee shirts and turn into action figures and movie franchises. Who cares if the company makes a profit on the comics when the movies will bring in big bucks? The argument can be made here that DC couldn’t possibly be doing that because with their track record in film. I disagree. Cartoons featuring DC characters have been huge for decades and licensed merchandise is always a big seller. It seems to me that the lowering to $2.99 is DC’s way of saying “we care about you more than those other guys.”

However you look at it nobody makes a lot of money from actual comics. Even with Marvel charging 20% more than the other guys they aren’t making a lot off their comics. Why do these major companies keep making comics if they aren’t profitable? Movies, toys, merchandise.

Maybe that’s why so many people see comics as disposable entertainment.

As for the price of paper, there is a very simple solution to that problem. Sadly I don’t see it happening any time soon. Here is part of an article from Hemphasis.net.

Making paper from trees is kind of a joke, because trees are made up of only 30% cellulose. The other 70% of the tree must be removed using toxic chemicals, until the cellulose can be formed into paper. The higher the percentage of cellulose in a plant, the better, because fewer chemicals need to be used, and less work needs to be done before the paper can be made. Almost any plant in nature with a strong stalk is better suited to make paper than trees, especially hemp because it can be 85% cellulose.

Hemp makes paper stronger and which lasts centuries longer than wood paper, which could be very valuable for people who want to keep records aside from on computers. Hemp paper does not yellow, crack, or otherwise deteriorate like tree paper does now. The acids which are needed for wood paper eventually eat away at the pulp and cause it to turn yellow and fall apart. Because of this publishers, libraries, and archives have to order specially processed acid free paper, but they could just buy hemp paper which already meets their quality standards.

Hemp paper also does not require any bleaching, and so does not poison the water with dioxins or chlorine like tree paper mills do. The chemicals involved in making hemp paper are much less toxic, in fact, both paper made from hemp hurd, and from the long bast fiber can be made without any chemicals at all, but it takes longer to separate the fiber from the lignin. Making paper from hemp could also eliminate erosion due to logging, reduces topsoil loss, and water pollution caused by soil runoff.

One acre of hemp can produce as much paper as 4 to 10 acres of trees over a 20-year cycle, but hemp stalks only take four months to mature, whereas trees take 20 to 80 years. This information was known in 1916, according to a USDA report. Hemp paper can also be recycled more often, though this fact is not of much value, since hemp is a reusable resource.

Anyone else feel a need to call their congressman?

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