Vertigo’s Latest Hardcover… How Much?

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It is Wednesday, and that means new comics day.  It is the day that Avengers #1 is coming out, and the fan boys are excited.  I am, however, looking a completely different comic book animal.  Today is the release of the latest hardcover by Vertigo Books Crime:  The Executor.

No, I cannot write a review of it.  I am not sure I can afford it.  Indeed, the price is something about this line of books that I wanted to discuss.  Who is buying these books at $19.99 each?  For the price of nearly two sawbucks, you get around 200 hundred black-and-white pages (it varies by book) in a digest-sized (think manga-sized) hardcover.  Compared to your average comic book, this seems like a good deal (32 pages—not all story as it includes the ads, so let’s say 22 pages of story—for $3-4).  Or compared to your average trade paperback (100-150 pages for $10-15).

Unfortunately, when I visit my local comic book store, I find it hard to plunk down the $20 for the book.  When you are looking at the comic books that you are following regularly, month after month, because you are enjoying them, it is hard to think about that uncertain hardcover on the shelf. I did buy the first two.

The first, Dark Entries, is a John Constantine (Hellblazer) story that involves the supernatural with the “crime” of the series.  As I have every Constantine comic, I had to buy this one, too. The second, Filthy Rich, was written by Brian Azzarello.  Mr. Azzarello came to notice with his long-running Vertigo series, 100 Bullets, and is a straight up 50’s style noir story.  I enjoyed both books, but I am still unsure if they were worth the price.

It appears that Vertigo is trying to jump the most unprofitable part of comics—single issues—to a more profitable part—graphic novels.  Vertigo is an imprint of DC Comics and has been publishing “adult-oriented” comics since 1993.  For every successful comic series produced, (Sandman and Preacher) there have been a larger number that have failed (American Virgin, The Crusades, Flinch, and Kid Eternity).  All of their successful series have translated into sales in trade paperbacks as well.  Recently, Vertigo started rereleasing some of their most successful books in new hard covers.  That is, after all, what is selling now.

Will these new hard cover crime books sell for Vertigo?  They have three more books on their release schedule, including The Green Woman co-written by Peter Straub and illustrated by John Bolton (in color) to be published in October.  I suppose, I will be continuing to look at these more expensive books and wondering if I should put my money down for them.

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