Thursday, April 11, 2013

1985 - DC Comics Sales Data


  1. Don't know much about periodical publishing but that looks pretty bad especially whencompared to Marvel's averages at the same time. Who'd've thunk Hawkman would be in the top tier way above Batman!

  2. Hi,
    Just wondering if someone could clarify the meanings of the Draw and Sale categories? Is one the number of copies ordered by stores and the other what actually sold, or have I got that wrong? If the Sale numbers are what sold to readers, then I agree those numbers seem low for the booming 80s (so do the Marvel ones, frankly). I got the impression top books used to clear 100,000 copies sold pretty easily.

    In any case, I guess DC was on the cusp of a renaissance once Byrne started Superman and Miller started Batman.

    Thanks for posting these!

  3. Was this part of the documents Shooter posted concerning the possible acquisition of certain DC characters in the eighties? I know they were doing analysis of DC sales in order to present the idea to Marvel management, taking over some of DC's line and publishing those titles themselves.

  4. Hi David, I'm sorry, I'm not sure what the "draw" term means and unfortunately a quick google search didn't help.

    Hey Andrew, you are correct, this was part of Marvel's recon into buying DC, in particular they were interested in Superman.

  5. Hey David, Brian Michael Bendis linked to my post on his tumblr page and had this to say about those numbers:

    "the pertinent bit here is the “sale” figure, which represents the sell through. That is, the number of issues that actually sold, versus the “draw,” which was the total print run. My whole life I’ve heard that comics in the newsstand days routinely sold hundreds of thousands of copies, compared to the few dozen thousand that they sell now. And it might well be true that comics did indeed sell those kinds of volumes in earlier eras. But by 1985, though the PRINT RUNS were still in the 100+ thousand copy range, the actual copies SOLD came in between 20 and 80 thousand copies, at least for DC Comics. Which is, surprisingly, not too far off from what comics sell through the direct market today. So sales have certainly slipped from the heyday of the “golden age,” when comics were truly a mass medium, but maybe the fall hasn’t been as far or as dramatic in recent decades than popular thinking suggests. An interesting point, that will bear investigation."

  6. I'm not sure my facts are 100% on this but this was back when they sold comics anywhere any kind of magazine was sold so they needed more copies. Unsold copies could be returned to the publisher. My friend worked at a magazine/newspaper distributing job and every month they would collect the old comics to be taken back to the warehouse and have the covers ripped off. Sometimes not as he would routinely bring home a stack of comics. Then the place that sold them would get a credit. This changed with that whole Diamond distributing mess of the 90's and now comics can't be returned.

    1. I worked at a comic shop in the late'80s, and my friend's dad had a grocery store. Comic shop ordered through Diamond or similar co., paid about 50% of cover price, did pre-orders and could not return. Grocery store, IIRC, paid about 70% or 80% cover, got sent what the distro thought they should have, but could return every unsold issue for pulp and refund.

  7. Wow, those are shockingly low sales figures!
    Yeah, Diamond sucks.

  8. This is ONLY a newsstand sales analysis, not the direct market. And newsstand sales, especially for DC titles, were decreasing throughout the 70s and into the 80s (which is why both companies put more and more emphasis on the direct market).

  9. "Diamond distributing mess of the 90's"? What the hell misinformation is being put forth out there, from a post of over three years ago? Sheesh.


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