“NOT PAUL SMITH.”

§ May 27th, 2022 § Filed under retailing § 13 Comments

So here’s a thing I found in one of the many, many boxes of old promo material I inherited from the previous place of employment…a sheet of ordering suggestions sent out by a distributor:

These seem to be all for comics with a cover date of January 1984, which means they were released a couple of months before that, which means this sheet was sent out mid/late-ish 1983.

Now, I love stuff like this…I immediately scoured the boxes and found only one or two more of these. But it’s a great insight into what the comic market was like at the time, outside of just order and sales numbers. This is why I also like period fanzines, in that you get the opinions of the time, what people were anticipating, what reactions they had to new projects, that sort of thing.

Reading this now, we have the advantage of hindsight, like with the note that New Mutants was beginning to drop in sales. We know seven months later that the very artist this writer was ballyhooing in the Dazzler entry, Bill Sienkiewicz, would be taking over and revitalizing the book. Also, I may be reading a bit into this, but I feel like there’s an implied “GOOD” response to the dropping sales, as I seem to recall some resentment at the time from X-Men fans that the very idea of having to buy a second X-title was such a burden. Anyway, they didn’t know how lucky they had it.

Other observations:

I think time has shown that Machine Man was “the worst mini-series yet” is WRONG WRONG WRONG. Also, the idea that Hercules was a low-selling series surprises me, as I thought it’d been relatively popular. Or maybe it was, just graded on the Marvel sales curve it’s still way below X-Men. Anyway, both of these were good comics and strong back issue sellers for a long time.

The “woof woof” on the Marvel Fumetti comic was amusing. I suppose it must have seemed like just more Marvel rack-crowding by pumping out junk, but I bought a copy of that when it was new, and it’s cute and funny! Plus it’s nice to see even black-and-white photos on newsprint of the Marvel crew.

Uncanny X-Men Annual #7 sure seemed like a big deal to this writer, I guess, spurred on by the artwork of Mike Golden. This annual was the goofy Impossible Man story, and yeah, it’s a consistent seller today, only because demand is way up on X-Men as a whole.

The Cloak and Dagger entry is a nice reminder of how hot the comic once was.

I guess this writer’s dog shared the byline, as here we are in the Sub-Mariner #1 entry with an “Arf.” Truth be told, this is like one of the forgotten Sub-mariner titles.

I’m glad the Aunt May/Galactus team-up in Marvel Team-Up #137 got the positive nod. I presume fans were probably amused by the very idea, and I know I certainly bought one. It was also part of the “Assistant Editors Month” event, with crazy things happening in each comic. I’m sure the sales bump was a good idea.

Part two on Monday, where we look at what we should be ordering on DCs! Plus, a mystery title?

13 Responses to ““NOT PAUL SMITH.””

  • Thom H. says:

    This is so interesting. First of all, I didn’t realize shop owners got anything like this from distributors back in the day. It seems really helpful, especially since they’re also suggesting order reductions. Clearly it’s not just a marketing tool for them.

    The note on Cloak and Dagger makes me remember what it was like piecing together runs from back issues. I got to the comic store only sporadically, so I was usually late to new series. I never understood why the third issue was always the toughest back issue to find.

    Now I understand it was because shop owners corrected for downward sales figures at their first opportunity since they were ordering issues two months in advance. And if a series or mini-series caught on a little late, then orders would go up for #4 and beyond. It just happened again with Nice House on the Lake. I’m still late to the game and still looking for NHotL #3. :)

  • John Platt says:

    Thanks for sharing this fun piece of history!

  • jmurphy says:

    typo: “team-up in Marvel Fanfare #137”
    Fanfare only went to 60 issues, Marvel Team-Up went to 150.

    That scan is so cool.

  • Mikester says:

    jmurphy – Fixed now. Shouldn’t blog when I’m exhausted.

  • Rob S. says:

    Oh, man, this is fantastic! I’m really looking forward to what he has to say about the DCs. We should be right around the Trial of the Flash era! And Green Lantern has been exiled into space!

  • John Lancaster says:

    That whole list was purchased new off the rack by me in…1983? Damn, I’m old. And every one of those is still in my collection.

  • Donald G says:

    Avengers Annual #7 came out years earlier than the other comics on this list. The real Avengers Annual for 1983 was Avengers Annual #12.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Thanks for posting this. Looking forward to seeing the DC list, and I’d love to see any more that you have.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    I know that today with stores ordering like 10 copies of each comic cutting sales by 20% doesn’t seem that extreme, but I have to imagine that in 1984 more comics were being sold through less stores. (Maybe I’m wrong? Based on the Statement of Ownership, Dazzler was selling an average of 134,764 and Daredevil selling an average of 259,013 an issue at this point, though how many of those were through newsstands I don’t know.)

    How many copies of Daredevil do you think a store would be selling? What would cutting 20% of sales even look like? (And also, I guess, how much are you willing to increase/decrease your sales for new comics being released.)

    I guess this was also when stores ordered extra copies for back issues, which doesn’t really happen any more.

  • Smicha1 says:

    Mike this is a ton of fun! Thanks for sharing.

  • DK says:

    IIRC the Machine Man limited series had the first appearance of the Iron Man of 2020, Aron Stark.

    Definitely don’t order any of those, character will never be seen again.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Also, the idea that Hercules was a low-selling series surprises me, as I thought it’d been relatively popular”

    I did, too! Maybe it was more well-regarded, than top-selling. Or they’re comparing its sales to X-MEN & AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, which it certainly wasn’t going to achieve.

  • […] did you folks a disservice last time when I started talking about this sheet of distributor ordering suggestions by not presenting the […]

  • Leave a Reply