Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gasoline-Comic Book Pricing Theory

I have an interesting theory that concerns the price of comic books and gasoline. I think that, for whatever reason, the price of comic books and gasoline rise at the same rate.

I have selected Amazing Spider-Man as the comic whose cover price I will use to compare to gasoline prices. The date and issue number listed below reflect the first issue at a new, higher standard price. I ignored "special" issues that had a higher cover price for one or two issues due to extra story pages or a special cover. Research for ASM cover prices was done at

Gasoline prices were retrieved from (for up to 1988) and from government sources such as for dates after that. Since gasoline prices vary greatly by region and type of gasoline, I tried to get average prices for the East Coast regular unleaded gasoline.

As evidence that this theory is valid, consult the information below:

DATE                   ASM ISSUE #              COVER PRICE            GAS PRICE
1963 March                         1                             .12                                 .30
1969 August                     75                             .15                                 .35
1971 December            103                             .20                                 .36
1974 May                        132                             .25                                 .53
1976 September           160                             .30                                 .59
1977 November             174                            .35                                 .62
1979 May                         191                            .40                                 .86
1980 October                  209                            .50                              1.25
1982 January                  224                            .60                              1.30
1985 April                        263                            .65                              1.20
1986 February                273                            .75                                .93
1988 June                       301                          1.00                             1.08
1992 February                359                          1.25                             1.07
1994 May                         389                          1.50                             1.18
1997 March                     421                          1.95                             1.20
1997 September           426                          1.99                              1.20
2000 June                      459  (v.2 #18)         2.25                              1.55
2005 August                  521                           2.50                              2.53
2006 June                      531                          2.99                              2.82
2010 January                 612                          3.99                              2.75 (3.75 today)

Now, let's analyze the evidence. I think you can break this data into three categories - Comic x2 = Gas, Comic Greater Than Gas, and Comic = Gas,

Comic x2 = Gas - From 1963 until 1985, a gallon of gas was roughly twice the price of a single issue of Amazing Spider-Man. But the trend for both items was that they continued to go up in price at roughly the same rate. ASM went from 12 to 65 cents - a 540% increase - while gasoline went from 30 cents to $1.20 - a 400% increase.

Comic Great Than Gas - Starting in 1986, gas prices starting going backward (getting cheaper) while comic books continued to get more expensive. By 1992, ASM was more expensive than a gallon of gas. Gasoline would remain mostly stable (fluctuating only a dime) until 1997 but comic books would continue to get more expensive. ASM's cover price of 1.99 in 1997 was 79 cents more expensive than a gallon of gas!

Comic = Gas - The price of a gallon of gasoline quickly caught up, however. By 2005, the two products had about the same price. This trend has continued to today when ASM costs $3.99 and gas is $3.75 a gallon.

So What? - Well, my theory is that, in the modern era of pricing (2005 to today), the price of comic books and gasoline are linked. An increase in one heralds an increase in the other.

It's not funny if this is your reality.
Now, I'm not saying that this is a CAUSAL relationship. Increasing comic book prices do not CAUSE gasoline prices to go up. But, certainly gasoline prices do influence comic book prices. Gasoline is used in the production of paper and the distribution of the comic books.

While there's not a causal relationship between the prices of these two commodities, there is a CORRELATIONAL relationship. Although there are many factors in the price of both of these goods, if you graphed the above prices on a line graph, you'd see two lines that directly parallel one another and overlap a good deal of the time.  

CONCLUSION - So, the next time you see that comic book prices are going up, beware! Know that gasoline prices are soon to follow! For good or bad, the prices of these two commodities are linked.

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