Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Marvel Comics G1 TF circulation summaries

Every so often in the old Marvel Transformer comics they'd print a little box in the letters page titled "U.S. Postal Service statement of ownership, management and circulation". Recently I was checking out a site where a fan compiled some of these figures for the Doctor Strange book and it got me thinking about those little boxes with the circulation reports in Transformers. When I was a kid I hated the circulation reports because they ate up a lot of space that could have gone towards printing the brilliant comic analysis I'd write in letters to Marvel every month-stuff like, "Dear Transformers, Why is Optimus Prime red and Megatron is grey and in GoBots, Leader-1 is gray and CyKill is red?". I've grown up since then but as this post will prove, I still spend enormous amounts of time doing investigative research on the most inane crapola.

So I went back through all my comics and tried to find the reports and what information they had. They're essentially a breakdown by year of how many comics were printed, how many sold and how many were returned but in very exact detail. I found that each report covered one year's worth of sales but they weren't always printed on a regular schedule. The original Transformers comic ran 80 issues and I only found circulation reports in issues 27, 39, 60, 66 and 76. That's one report approximately every 12 issues starting with #27, reported roughly around the April cover dates with a bit of a lag between issues 39 and 60. Every year of publication is covered from 1986 through 1990. I thought there should have been a circulation report printed in the early issues around issue 15 but I didn't find one. While the information in the boxes wasn't a comprehensive listing of sales numbers for each specific issue, the summaries did give a good idea of how the book was doing in general.

Here then is a brief presentation of the numbers outlined in the circulation reports I found. There were some numbers given that I didn't record here because they were difficult for me to analyze, but if you go into each issue you'll see that figures were also given in each category for the issue nearest to the filing date. I couldn't figure out which issue that would be relative to each report, so I left those numbers out in this recap, but if you could decipher the relationship between circulation report filing date and the current issue at the time of filing, you'd have circulation numbers for at least five specific Transformers comics.

Filing dates:
issue 27 (Apr '87 cover): October 6, 1986
issue 39 (Apr '88 cover): A typographical error resulted in no date
issue 60 (Dec '89 cover): October 1, 1988
issue 66 (May '90 cover): November 1, 1989
issue 76 (Mar '91 cover): October 1, 1990

A) Total number of copies printed
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 505,943
reported in issue 39: 446,312
reported in issue 60: 351,607
reported in issue 66: 212,495
reported in issue 76: 147,159

B) Paid circulation
1) Sales through dealers and carriers, street vendors and counter sales
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 287,440
reported in issue 39: 200,425
reported in issue 60: 138,075
reported in issue 66: 89,730
reported in issue 76: 65,450
2) Mail subscriptions
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 13,542
reported in issue 39: 16,850
reported in issue 60: 11,900
reported in issue 66: 6,650
reported in issue 76: 4,383

C) Total paid circulation (sum of B1 and B2)
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 300,982
reported in issue 39: 217,275
reported in issue 60: 149,975
reported in issue 66: 96,380
reported in issue 76: 69,833

D) Free distribution by mail, carrier or other means, samples, complimentary and other free copies
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 525
reported in issue 39: 132* (396?)
reported in issue 60: 132
reported in issue 66: 150
reported in issue 76: 100

E) Total distribution (sum of C and D)
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 301,507
reported in issue 39: 217,407
reported in issue 60: 150,107
reported in issue 66: 96,530
reported in issue 76: 69,933

Copies not distributed
1) Office use, left over, unaccounted, spoiled after printing
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 2,689
reported in issue 39: 3,960
reported in issue 60: 975
reported in issue 66: 600
reported in issue 76: 600
2) Returns from news agents
Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months
reported in issue 27: 201,747
reported in issue 39: 224,945
reported in issue 60: 200,525
reported in issue 66: 115,365
reported in issue 76: 76,626

4 comments:

Botch the Crab said...

You know, this is really interesting. Thanks for doing the research!

ViceGripX said...

This reminds me that we looked at imdb today and there's no record of how many episodes Bob Saget did. Why is that?

ViceGripX said...

That should have said how many episodes he did of America's Funniest Home Video.

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Maybe all of them?

 

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