Welcome to 2002. And welcome back to my ongoing report on the Comicmobile. As you know if you’ve read the previous installments (and, if you haven’t, they’re just a click away in the Archives you can access via the column on the left), DC’s mix of books back in 1973 was far more than just superhero titles. There were plenty of war and “mystery” titles published, as well as western, sword-and-sorcery, and romance titles.
Here is a look at the rest of the titles I had to offer way back in the summer of the Comicmobile…
ADVENTURE COMICS (53rd in sales ranking)
I had all three Black Orchid issues and not one of them sold. On my first day, while sitting in a shopping center parking lot, I sold one copy. On my last day, when there was nothing left that nay of my regular customers wanted to buy, I sold a second copy. The boys avoided it because it was a girl hero book. The girls preferred Wonder Woman or Supergirl.
BOY COMMANDOS (54th)
This is the book at the bottom of the heap. Of all the 20c books I had, it was the poorest seller despite being a #1 issue. In fact, I sold no copies of #1 and it was a copy of #2 that someone finally purchased. The kids didn’t even look at it if they did not like war comics and even the war buffs were not enthused. The covers were not eye-catching and they preferred books with more action in them.
METAL MEN (50th)
This issue (the last of the reprints) did not fare well, mostly because the kids who liked the Metal Men already had it. (The issue of BRAVE & BOLD with them in it sold out.) I had some requests for a new issue and those kids were disappointed when I told them it had been discontinued. They were happy to hear, however, that there would be another issue of B&B coming soon.
PHANTOM STRANGER (28th)
The issue in which the Stranger meets Frankenstein far outsold the other two issues I had. Most kids bought it because “Frankenstein” was emblazoned across the cover. The “grinning executive” issue sold minimally, but the newest issue (the monster face reflection) picked up towards the end and I sold out the copies I had on hand.
SECRET ORIGINS (37th)
Issue #3 with Wonder Woman and Wildcat sold the best. The girls bought it for the Amazon princess and the guys liked it because Wildcat rides a motorcycle. The Spectre issue sold a few copies, but the Vigilante/Kid Eternity issue went over like a lead balloon. The kids had never heard of either hero and didn’t seem interested in finding out about them.
It might be a good idea, if SECRET ORIGINS is revived, to couple a popular hero with a relative unknown.
SWAMP THING (39th)
This book sold well to the oldest of my customers and not much to anyone else. The Clockwork Horror issue was the most popular; the Batman issue lost out because most of the kids could not see the Caped Crusader on the cover.
Super-villains seem to be a lot less popular than the superheroes. The issue I had (#9) sold to a few people who had all the other Superman magazines I had available.
One bit of information that is interesting to note, that SWAMP THING sold to the older readers. A sign that there would eventually be an audience for the Vertigo titles?
MORE FROM THE COMICMOBILE:
THE DEMON (39th)
Sales of this title were sporadic. When a new issue arrived, it would sell to a regular group of readers. From then on, a cpy would only sell to somebody looking for a mystery-related hero book.
Like THE DEMON, sales on this book went up with the new issue and down the rest of the time. It fared better, however, because a lot of the kids went for the “Planet of the Apes” motif. The talking lions (and tigers and bears, oh my) attracted a number of them into buying if they were just looking for something “interesting.”
MISTER MIRACLE (46th)
The only issue of the three I had that sold was the one with Shilo and the little people on the cover. The preceding one, with Shilo and Mr. Miracle surrounded by the enemy, did not move at all and the newest one with the trick bed sold only one copy.
THE SHADOW (23rd)
Sales on this book would have been higher if I had had copies of the first issue. I had a number of requests for it that I couldn’t fill. I didn’t get #2 till mid-September, but it sold well then. The Sahdow also sold well in his Batman appearance.
Tarzan has quite a core of regular fans, supplemented by a groiup who will buy an issue if it looks interesting. This is evidenced by the sales of the regular title, along with the Digest and $1 editions. Of the issues I had, the one with Tarzan fighting the lion was very popular, as was the newest one with the snake pit.
KORAK, SON OF TARZAN (35th)
Sales on this title are not necessarily reflective of popularity because I was unable to get copies for most of August and September. All I had was an old issue that Mike Uslan had picked up and it sold to people who had already picked up TARZAN. When I finally got the newest issue, sales picked up. They were not spectacular, but they were steady.
CHAMPION SPORTS (15th)
This book sold much better than I had expected, with the majority of the buyers being boys who were lugging baseball bats or similar equipment around. One day, I rode into the middle of a baseball game and every one of the boys bought this book and STRANGE SPORTS as well. Almost all of the sales reported are for #1; I didn’t get #2 till my final week.
The sales on this book look good because I sold a large pile of copies to a guy who was convinced that they would be collectors’ items. I tried pushing the title as an alternative to Archie books, but those kids felt that if they couldn’t get the real thing, they didn’t want anything.
FROM BEYOND THE UNKNOWN (43rd)
Sales were slow on this book, though I had three different issues on hand. I gave away some copies of the issue with the artist drawing the monster and some of those kids bought the following issue, but for the most part, it wasn’t popular.
STRANGE ADVENTURES (50th)
Science fiction is dead as far as this magazine is concerned. None of the kids was interested in Adam Strange flying into the mouth of a space monster.
STRANGE SPORTS STORIES (8th)
This sold quite well; the kids went for the combination of sports and weird ideas. One suggestion they had was that we concentrate on a single image ont he cover, rather than a multi-paneled one. The kids are looking for something that will catch their eye among all the other comics and the reduced size of the pictures (especially the dinosaur in the horse race, which was the most popular story) loses readers to books like HOUSE OF MYSTERY with its larger, looming monsters.
SWORD OF SORCERY (43rd)
I’m surprised this book sold so many copies because I don’t remember who was buying them. The issue with the octopus caught the eye of some kids who bought it thinking it was along the lines of HOUSE OF MYSTERY.
WEIRD WORLDS (50th)
Two kids on the same block bought the same issue (the debut of Ironwolf) on the same day, accounting for my biggest sales on this title. The Edgar Rice Burroughs issue I had did not sell any copies.
VARIOUS ROMANCE TITLES (unranked — accounted for more than 6% of total sales)
I kept no tally on the individual titles of the romance books, but I doubt that it really mattered. The girls who bought these books (mostly in the 10-13 age group) don’t care about the title of the book. They cared only if the cover looked interesting or not. Also, they would buy these books in bulk, usually spending a dollar or more at one time.
This made them ideal customers for the 100 PAGE ROMANCE SUPER-SPECTACULAR. Though a couple of the girls initially balked at the idea of a 50c comic book, when I explained the economies of scale, they immediately bought the book. I could have sold more copies, but ran out in the last week.
Sales on the various other 100-PAGE SUPER-SPECTACULARS were fairly good, especially to regular comic book fans. Most of them would ask for “the new SUPER-SPEC” without even seeing the cover.
Similarly, the TARZAN, SHAZAM, and HOUSE OF MYSTERY tabloid editions sold well, despite their $1 price tag. Kids who bought the Tarzan edition were reward (?) with my autograph on the puzzle pages. (Though not the first freelance work I did for DC, they were the first pages to appear in print.)
The Tarzan Digest also sold well. Kids seemed to like the idea of getting a comic book that looked like a paperback book.
If you’ve been keeping track, you may have noticed that I still haven’t told you what the best-selling title was while I drove the Comicmobile. (A couple of people have emailed that they know – because the information appeared in a reprint of the title not so long ago.) In any case, be back here next week to find out…