If you feel, as I do, that $3.99 is a ridiculous price for a 24-page comic, digital or paper, here are some alternatives. In most cases, these free or less expensive comics originally sold for higher prices, as most comics on comiXology are priced at full cover price when they are first released. Waiting a few weeks can save you a bundle. In addition, some publishers are offering some sweet promotional deals at the moment. Read on for bargains!
Archie Comics has a rather nice assortment of titles available for free on its app (if you don’t already have one, you’ll have to create an account to download these). They include the first issues of Archie: Will You Marry Me?, the comic in which Archie married Veronica and Betty in separate alternate storylines; Life With Archie, the comic that picks up the story of the Riverdale characters in their 20s, with, again, two separate storylines; Archie: Freshman Year, which looks at a slightly younger Archie and his friends as they begin high school; and Kevin Keller, the comic that introduced Riverdale’s first openly gay character. And there are two interesting crossovers: Archie Meets KISS #1 and Tiny Titans and Little Archie #1. Sonic the Hedgehog, Josie and the Pussycats, and Cheryl Blossom each stars in a freebie comic, as does the manga version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
If there’s one comic that’s worth setting up an account for, though, it’s Jughead #200. Written by Tom Root (of Robot Chicken fame), it’s a laugh-out-loud funny story about Jughead selling his soul to a witch for an elaborate hamburger—and then, in true Riverdale style, his friends all sell their souls to try to get him back. Chris Sims called it “without question the best Archie story since Archie Meets the Punisher,” adding, “It goofs on the established format in a way that’s actually really funny, to the point where it’s the first Archie comic I’ve read in a long time that I not only laughed out loud while I was reading, but laughed later when I was telling friends about it.” The Archie app is available for iOS and Android as well as on the web.
For readers who prefer a much darker read, King Tractor Press is offering both volumes of Shawn Granger’s Family Bones for 99 cents each via the Kindle and iBooks stores. This is a fictionalized account of the true story of Ray and Faye Copeland, the oldest serial killers on record. Like a murderous Ma and Pa Kettle, the couple were farmers who used drifters as shills in a cattle-selling scam, then murdered them. Granger is the great-nephew of the real-life Copelands, and he writes the story from the point of view of a fictitious nephew who is sent to live with them. The story was originally published as a series of single-issue comics, but the e-book collections are a better way to read them because you really want to jump from one chapter to the next. Granger used a number of different artists, but after the first chapter they all have a pretty clear and consistent style so the books hang together pretty well.
Finally, be aware that comics that debut at $2.99 or $3.99 on comiXology usually drop in price after a few weeks. To make these price drops easier to spot, the comiXology folks have set up a Recently Reduced section. The latest assortment is pretty eclectic, with everything from superheroes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to My Little Pony most priced at $1.99. My pick: Great Pacific #2, the second issue of a clever adventure comic about the rebellious scion of a wealthy family who attempts to set up his own nation on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
So keep your eye on the ball and your hand on your wallet, and you can get plenty of good reading without breaking the bank.
A former book editor and newspaper reporter, Brigid Alverson started MangaBlog to keep track of her daughters¹ reading habits and now covers comics and graphic novels for Comic Book Resources , School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Robot 6, and MTV Geek. She also edits the Good Comics for Kids blog at School Library Journal. Brigid was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards. Send her an email to firstname.lastname@example.org