§ March 14th, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Thanks to everyone for the kind birthday wishes, both in my comments and via e-mail.

While I was at work today, I just happened to be sorting through some of our Amazing Spider-Man backstock and found another copy of #73. Like the one I posted earlier, this copy also had a “MAR 13” cover date stamp, but in a different typeface from the first. So, there we go…about as good as a confirmation as I’m going to get that this issue of Amazing Spider-Man did indeed come out on the day I was born. Cool. Now if I could only find some other comic released on my birthday….

A couple people have asked me why the printed cover dates are so far off from the actual release date…well, I have read a couple reasons why, and I thought I’d note them here. I’m no expert on this particular aspect of comicdom, so if someone has a better, or at least an additional, explanation, feel free to chime in.

1. To trick the retailer into keeping the comic on the stands longer. You know, March rolls around, it’s time to take the February issues off the stands, but this here copy of the True Bride-to-Be Romances comic has a cover date of June. Better keep that one on the rack! Well, I’m not sure how successful a tactic that was, though it must have caused some retailers a minor bit of confusion. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have copies of old comics now with the actual arrival dates written or stamped on the cover.

Nowadays, of course, that almost certainly doesn’t work on most comic store retailers, since, at least in our case, we keep very detailed cycle sheets tracking what came in when and how it’s selling. At the very least, you know to take the old one off the rack when the new issue comes in. For comics sold on newsstands, they still have the color-coded bars at the top of the pages which tell those retailers when to cycle out the books, bypassing the need for the cover dates entirely. (You can find more info on this here, under “3-17” near the bottom of the page.)

2. To create the psychological perception of “newness” to the reader. Well, it wasn’t worded exactly like that when I came across this explanation, but that’s the gist of it. It was felt that maybe a kid trying to choose which comic to spend his 15 cents on would lean toward the comic that was the “newer” issue. You know, passing up the September issue of Avengers for the October issue of Superman, even though both may have been released more or less at about the same time. I never really quite bought that idea, since a kid that likes the Avengers is going to buy the Avengers, regardless if there are newer books on the stands.

3. Stuff happens. You know, behind the scenes shenanigans, shipping skip weeks, missed deadlines or something ships ahead of time…and the next thing you know, issues cover dated November are coming out in August. Okay, that’s more likely today than in the ’50s or ’60s, but more along the lines of comics dated, say, November ’04 coming out in August ’05.

Anyway, whatever the reason, it hardly matters anymore. Once in a blue moon I have someone ask me for a comic by a specific month – “do you have the April Cable & Deadpool?” – as most people just go by the issue numbers (at least in the direct market).

Again, thank you for the birthday well-wishes…and be sure to think happy thoughts for my sister, whose birthday is the 14th!

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