A large portion of DC’s line in 1973 was made up of the “mystery” titles. Though far more sanitized than the EC titles of the early fifties and nowhere near as graphic as some of today’s books, they had a substantial readership. In fact, sales of the titles listed below accounted for almost 20% of the total for the period in which I drove the Comicmobile.
BLACK MAGIC (12th)
I had only the first issue of this Simon/Kirby reprint and it sold quite well. Most of the kids liked the giant-headed man on the cover. There was some comment later that the book wasn’t really as scary as it looked and that it was difficult to read.
DARK MANSION (35th)
This was the poorest seller among the straight mystery books. The majority of sales were of the “skeleton under the sea” issue. The following one, with the melting man, sold only one copy.
Sales were up and down on this book. It appeared to be the second or third choice among fans of the mystery titles. They would buy HOUSE OF MYSTERY or UNEXPECTED first, then buy GHOSTS on my next trip through their neighborhood.
I had four different issues on display and some kids would buy more than one issue at a time. At one location, a kid pointed out that the stories were supposed to be true and that sparked a buying spree among his friends. The lighthouse issue, with the skeleton dragging down the boat, and the skiing issue sold about the same. The “rising spirit” issue sold less than the others.
HOUSE OF MYSTERY (7th)
This was the steadiest seller among the mystery titles. As each issue came in, there would be a rush to buy it and then sales would continue along well till the next issue arrived. The alligator cover was the best seller, and the scorpion issue did well in the limited time I had it. Sales of the “tree” issue, which Mike Uslan said was a best-seller for him, were not that good for me, possibly because the issue had been on sale in the stores for awhile and some kids already had it.
HOUSE OF SECRETS (25th)
Abel seems forever to take a back seat to Cain, especially when it comes to sales. While sales were steady, they were not as lareg as HOM. The “monster hands” issue was most popular, followed by the coffin issue, and the most recent issue with the skaters (which I only had for a few days) sold well.
SINISTER HOUSE (28th)
Both issues that I had sold fairly well, witht he giant rat issue selling better than the “shadow on the wall” one.
Unexpected is the word for the sudden jump in sales on this book which, for most of August and September, seemed hopelessly mired among the poorest sellers. Suddenly, the issues started selling, with the swamp monster and attacking ants issues leading the way. Kids came back for any and all back issues I had available. The only issue that did not sell well was the lava monster one.
The book outsold almost everything I had during the last three weeks of my campaign and the only thing I can say is that the kids suddenly discovered it was there.
WEIRD MYSTERY (47th)
I had two issues and the one with the monsters behind the curtain sold best. It sold out on the last day.
WITCHING HOUR (14th)
This was one of the most popular mystery titles. There was a core of regular readers, supplemented by those who were attracted by a specific cover. The bridesmaid issue was most popular, followed by the birthday coffin one.The woman in the wheelchair issue was not that popular.
One interesting bit of information about the “mystery” titles, perhaps lost on all those who have spent years looking for books to attract female readers: They were quite popular among the girls. Often, in fact, the girls were attracted by the covers that were “scarier” while the boys went for the ones which could best be described as “gross.”
MORE COMICMOBILE REPORTS:
Another substantial part of DC’s line in 1973 was war comics.
G.I. COMBAT (11th)
This was the best-seller among the war titles, with war comic buffs preferring the Haunted Tank to Sgt. Rock and the Unknown Soldier. Sales were steady each week. The “Head for the rocks” cover was most popular, followed by the old one where the tank is coming over the cliff on top of the heroes. Sakles of the “We want our tank back” issue were also good.
OUR ARMY AT WAR (19th)
Sgt. Rock has a regular battalion of fans who await each issue. No issue outsold any other; these kids would buy any and all all of them that they haven’t read. If I’d had a greater variety of issues (I had five or six) sales would have been proportionally higher.
OUR FIGHTING FORCES (43rd)
Up till the last week and a half of my campaign, this was the second slowest moving title. I had sold only one copy. Sales picked up when I got the new issue for the final two days. In addition to buying that issues, they picked up the back issues they had ignored for the previous two months.
STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES (32nd)
The Unknown Soldier did not seem to have any regular fans, though a number of kids would buy an issue when buying other war books. The issue with the planes shooting through the parachute was most popular, followed by the ones where he is scaling the wall and facing the giant Japanese wrestler.
WEIRD WAR TALES (3rd)
The combination of mystery and war seemed to really appeal to the kids. I had many requests for back issues and the few that I had sold out. Each issue sold well and kids who bought one came back for as many of the others as I had.
G.I. WAR (17th)
Considering that this book sold out at a a time when it was my best seller (#2, the dinosaur issue), I wonder what would have happened if I’d had more copies.
FOUR STAR BATTLE TALES (24th)
Like G.I. WAR, this book sold quite well at the beginning because it had a dinosaur on the cover. The kids go for that sort of thing. Once everybody who wanted it had it, sales stopped completely. None of them wanted the other issues (which did not feature dinosaurs).
Not surprisingly, the war books sold almost exclusively to the boys. The girls were occasionally intrigued by an issue of WEIRD WAR that they thought looked scary.