These DC newsstand numbers from the mid-80s are fascinating. They come from Jim Shooter’s blog (and were pointed out by a post here). And 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.
And too — they were returnable outside of the DM. So they were eating that 70%…
Christ, Wonder Woman was the rock bottom of the bunch…it was bi-monthly and it still only sold 2/3rds of Ambush Bug.
Can’t make heads or tales of the newsstand audience — Who’s Who is the second highest selling, even across a 2-year average? It’s a reference book that’s too nerdy even for some hardcore nerds. Batman and the Outsiders outselling Batman by a comfortable margin? Both books selling less than Tales of the Legion?
There’s probably some historical factors I’m missing here, but wasn’t the newsstand supposed to represent the casual, “mainstream” audience that was lost in the transition to the direct market?