Comic books taught me everything I needed to know about inflation.
It cost more than it used to to make a 10-cent comic book, so they had to charge 12 cents. They had been 10 cents for more than 25 years, although as costs rose, they held the 10-cent price by cutting pages. The standard length of a comic book went from 64 pages to 48 pages to 32 pages. Finally they decided 32 pages was the minimum, and so the price had to give.
Twelve cents held for about seven years, but then inflation kicked in and they went up to 15 cents. There was a little experimentation with offering 48 pages for 25 cents, but that was quickly abandoned and it settled back to 32 pages for 20 cents, and then 25 and 30 and 35 and 40 cents. By 1980 a 32-page comic book was 50 cents.
Eventually other factors than inflation affected the price — the starving writers and artists won the right to be paid as if they were writers and artists, and better paper and printing techniques became the standard — so it’s not fair to say the 10-cent comic book of 1960 morphed into today’s $3.99 product, but inflation was the main culprit in the 1960s and 1970s.
I want to show you something about percentages and inflation.
That first price increase, from 10 cents to 12 cents, inflated the price by 20%.
When it went to 15 cents, that was a 25% increase.
The rise to 20 cents was 33%. Yikes!
Going to 25 cents was a 25% increase.
Going to 30 cents? Only 20%.
And 35 cents represented a 16.7% raise.
The hike to 40 cents raised the price by 14.3%.
Do you see? After a while, the inflation rate went down. But make no mistake, the price never went back. You could buy 10 comic books for $1 in 1960. By 1980 you could buy only two.
Don’t ever be fooled when the politicians announce that the inflation rate is down as if that’s wonderful news. The damage is already done.
The 10-cent comic book is gone forever.