For those who haven’t been keeping score, here is the ranking of the various titles I had for sale when I drove the Comicmobile back in the summer of 1973.
54 BOY COMMANDOS
53 ADVENTURE COMICS
50 METAL MEN
50 STRANGE ADVENTURES
50 WEIRD WORLDS
47 LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES
47 WEIRD WESTERN TALES
46 MISTER MIRACLE
43 FROM BEYOND THE UNKNOWN
43 OUR FIGHTING FORCES
43 SWORD OF SORCERY
41 JIMMY OLSEN
41 TEEN TITANS
39 THE DEMON
39 SWAMP THING
37 DETECTIVE COMICS
37 SECRET ORIGINS
35 DARK MANSION
32 STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES
32 SUPERBOY & THE LEGION
31 LOIS LANE
28 PHANTOM STRANGER
28 SINISTER HOUSE
27 WORLD’S FINEST
26 WEIRD MYSTERY TALES
25 HOUSE OF SECRETS
24 FOUR STAR BATTLE TALES
23 THE SHADOW
21 ACTION COMICS
20 BRAVE & BOLD
19 OUR ARMY AT WAR
18 JUSTICE LEAGUE
17 G.I. WAR TALES
15 CHAMPION SPORTS
14 THE WITCHING HOUR
12 BLACK MAGIC
11 G.I. COMBAT
8 STRANGE SPORTS STORIES
7 HOUSE OF MYSTERY
6 WONDER WOMAN
4 THE UNEXPECTED
3 WEIRD WAR TALES
AND THE WINNER IS…
I have never seen anything like the way the kids went for PLOP. Many of them asked for MAD and when I showed them the issue of PLOP instead, they bought it. This brought them back for the second issue, which I picked up towards the middle of my campaign.
Once they had both issues, they were after me for the third. Despite the fact that I told them it would not be out until October 16th, they will undoubtedly be harassing their local candy store owners until it comes in.
It’s hard to figure what attracted the kids to the book because they all liked something different. Most of them were caught by the covers, preferring Art Arteries to Arms Armstrong. They liked the Plops, the stories, the fact that there were no ads, everything.
Also interesting is that no one seemed willing to trade it. With most of the other books, the kids would buy different issues and ten trade. Everybody bought his or her own issue of PLOP. And I do mean everybody. I don’t think I had a single customer who did not buy at least one issue.
With support like this, the biggest problem may be getting enough copies to the stores. I feel sorry for the guy who gets eight or ten copies and has all of my former customers descending upon him.
Sales of PLOP accounted for 20% of the total copies sold during my tenure in the Comicmobile.
They surpassed the number two title, BATMAN, by substantially more than a two-to-one margin. (I have no idea what overall newsstand sales were for those or any of the other titles were at the time.)
PLOP continued through issue #24 in 1976, by the way. BATMAN, as you are probably aware, continues to be published.
FROM THE EMAILBOX
You’re sure bringing back memories with your Comicmobile reports. I only discovered it the last month or two you were driving it around Elmont. I remember that you introduced me to SWAMP THING and WEIRD WESTERN TALES, which I never would have tried if not for the samples you gave me. I remember you digging up issues of KAMANDI I missed (the only comic book my father enjoyed reading), and how you gave me the “inside scoop” on Hawkman’s upcoming resignation from the JLA. I still have the Superman 35th Anniversary bumper sticker that I got from the Comicmobile.
So now I have to wait several more weeks to find out what the top 3 titles were in 1973? They weren’t Superman or Batman titles. I have no idea what they might be. I’m on tenterhooks wondering what “tenterhooks” are… I mean, wondering what the top titles are. Could one of them be… Kamandi?
— Bob Buethe [firstname.lastname@example.org]
You must have missed BATMAN’s ranking in the number two spot, Bob. But how many people would have guessed that WEIRD WAR TALES and THE UNEXPECTED would be outselling SUPERMAN (which, at the time, proclaimed itself as “the #1 Best-Selling Comic Magazine”)?
By the way, I think Bob is the only former customer of the Comicmobile I’ve heard from. Anybody else out there ever buy a book from me (or my fellow Comicmobilers, Michael Uslan and Bruce Hamilton)?
I just read PLOP #1 Millennium Edition and I thought that the Comicmobile was awesome. Then I see you reminiscing here. I was just wondering: what’s the funniest thing that happened to you while driving that thing?
— Justin [email@example.com]
As someone who emailed me pointed out, the fact that PLOP was the best-seller in the Comicmobile was mentioned in the Millennium Edition.
Probably the most amusing thing that happened in my Comicmobile days was when Joe Orlando tried to have me arrested. (I’ve told this story before, so if you’ve heard it, please bear with me.)
In addition to getting my supply of books at the warehouse in New Jersey, I would visit the DC offices at 75 Rockefeller Plaza every week or so to pick up some back issues, etc. from the supply of extra office copies in the library. (As Bob Buethe mentions in his letter above, I got him some issues of KAMANDI that way.)
One afternoon, I was in the library, loading a box with a variety of books from the shelves therein. Joe, who did not know who I was, saw me and hustled down to the office of Vice President Sol Harrison. “There’s some kid in the library stealing books,” he told Sol.
Sol followed him back up the hall, took one look at me and said, “That’s not some kid; that’s Rozakis!”
For years after that, I would kid Joe about how he almost sent me to jail.