It sounds negative, but actually we love stupid comics. Everybody loves stupid comics. The theory goes that when ALL comics were stupid, they sold in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions. But how to TEST this theory?
We noticed that some of our stupid comics had little notices with details about circulation and such. Details that included sales figures. So, we said, let's see how some of our stupid old comics measure up, sales-wise, against the non-stupid comics of the 21st century.
Master Jimmy Olsen; reporter, Superman's pal, transvestite, robo-sexual; personifcation of the whimsical and generally brain-damaged Silver Age of comics. How WAS Jimmy selling back in the day?
Well, gee whiz. 367,000 copies? 367,000 copies! According to the December 2006 rankings of the top 300 comics, courtesy of ICV2, the top selling comic book now is Justice League Of America at a measly 136,000 copies. Obviously the might of the Justice League cannot stand against the mighty Olsen and his leaky tenement with rats.
But what of Jimmy's co-worker Lois Lane? How well was HER comic selling, back when she was feuding with Lana, tricking Superman into engagements, and being drawn by Kurt Shaffenburger?
That's right, a comic featuring a Superman made up of glowing flying fish was moving FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY NINE THOUSAND COPIES. That's not quite FOUR Justice Leagues. More luminous fish, DC!
Meanwhile over on the Archie side of the aisle, how were Betty and Veronica holding out?
Betty and Veronica were doing quite well, thank you, selling 450,000 a month in the late 1960s. That's a lot of comics every month; even Mr. Lodge wouldn't sneer at that kind of profit. Unless Archie was holding it, then he'd sneer.
Of course things started to slow down for the Riverdale gang as the 1980s arrived; what with videogames and cable TV kids simply didn't have the time necessary to fully enjoy the comic art.
As we can see by the helpful red circles, Betty & Veronica were limping along at a mere 68,000 issues sold monthly. On today's charts this would put them easily in the top 25 of all comics sold, beating Supergirl, Teen Titans, Detective Comics, and something called "X-23 Target X # 1 Of 6".
But what of Marvel Comics? As the 1970s wore on, their line got more and more serious, dramatic, pompous, continuity-obsessed, and lame. It was up to reprints of Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos to keep the barely-logical spirit of Stupid Comics alive!
Here we see an issue of Fury, four years into solid reprints, still selling 112,000 copies every month to barely repressed homicidal maniac kids such as myself. Today this would make Sgt. Fury the #5 best selling comic in America, beating something called "The New Avengers Illuminati" - a book 7 year olds can't even PRONOUNCE, let alone BUY. And they wonder why kids don't read comics any more.
But all good things must end, and Sgt. Fury's reprint battalion was finally decommissioned to make way for GI Joe. To this day, I hold a grudge. So how were the Howlers selling at that point?
78,000 copies sold. That's not bad for a book that had of late been forced to rely upon Syd Shores-pencilled "Captain Savage" reprints. Not bad at all, Sergeant, it beats Batman and Spiderman in the year 2006. Dismissed!
And last but not least we turn to another titan of American comics - Harvey. How was Harvey doing in the halcyon days of the 1960s?
That's correct, Justice League - even LITTLE DOT was owning your ass! Two hundred three thousand copies every month of stories about dots and food and the girls who love them! Also Richie Rich! That's a combination that no amount of tightly rendered super people gritting their teeth can overcome.
So remember -the next time somebody starts crowing about the amazing sales of some lame-o new non-stupid comic, GIVE HIM THE ONCE-OVER - because when comics were STUPID, they ruled the world.
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