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Action Comics Sales Figures

Circulation as Reported in Publishers' Statements of Ownership
Filed with the United States Postal Service

While Action Comics ran Statements of Ownership well before 1960, but the first one for which circulation figures were requires appeared in Action #273 (Feb 1961).

Right away, it could be seen that despite clearly being a Superman title, Action lagged sales of the main Superman series, selling 458,000 copies per issue versus Superman's 810,000 in 1960. (See its postal record here.) Action was monthly at the time, while Superman was published nine times a year; name recognition certainly also factored in.

But the pattern would continue, with Action always trailing a bit behind its sister title throughout the 1960s and 1970s, seeing its peak in 1965. The exception was in 1987, when John Byrne was working both on Action and a newly renumbered Superman title; the regular Superman series, which had been redubbed Adventures of Superman, trailed Action slightly that one year.

With #601, however, the title went to a weekly anthology, and sales fell. The experiment lasted less than a year. Sales were down to 70,316 copies monthly at the end of the 1980s, after which postal data is not available.

The title reached new heights in the 1990s boom, the pinnacle being in April 1993 when Action #687 topped a million copies as it helped bring Superman back from a temporary case of death.

In April 2018, Action became the first American title since Dell's Four Color to reach 1,000 issues with Action #1000. Four Color wasn't strictly a serial title, of course, but then Action's direct path has its own blemish, in the series' renumbering during the New 52 period of 2011-16.

Some direct-market only information is available in the monthly reports.

—John Jackson Miller


 

19601961196219631964
Issue Statement appearing in:#273 February#286 March#297 February#309 February #327 August
Date of filing:10/1/6010/1/6110/1/6210/1/6310/1/64
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$1.50$1.75$1.75$1.40$1.40
Cover price during year:$0.10$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.12
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):716,000
Sales through DEALERS (avg):513,000
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):5,026
Total PAID circulation (avg):458,000485,000435,000 no data published518,026
Samples by MAIL (avg):387
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):0
Total FREE circulation (avg):387
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:518,413
Copies not distributed (office):
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):197,587
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:27.6%
Copies existent:518,413
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:72.4%
19651966196719681969
Issue Statement appearing in:#338 Sept.#346 February#359 February#374 March#386 Mar
Date of filing:10/1/6510/1/6610/1/6710/1/6810/1/69
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$1.40$1.75$1.75$1.75No subs
Cover price during year:$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.12$0.15
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):758,000754,000720,000695,000673,000
Sales through DEALERS (avg):518,000485,000418,000422,000377,000
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):7,2546,1352,9001,000535
Total PAID circulation (avg):525,254491,135420,900423,000377,535
Samples by MAIL (avg):142330340386386
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):142330340386386
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:525,396491,465411,240423,386377,921
Copies not distributed (office):
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):232,604262,535298,760271,614295,079
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:30.7%34.8%41.5%39.1%43.8%
Copies existent:525,396491,465421,240423,386377,921
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:69.3%65.1%58.5%60.9%56.1%
19701971197219731974
Issue Statement appearing in:#398 Mar#410 Mar#422 March#434 April#447 May
Date of filing:10/1/7010/1/7110/1/7210/1/7310/1/74
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:No subs$3.00$3.00$3.00$3.00
Cover price during year:$0.15$0.25$0.20$0.20$0.25
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):621,030585,000542,000532,922487,877
Sales through DEALERS (avg):329,638325,460251,230239,421253,333
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2871581,0871,1371,833
Total PAID circulation (avg):329,925325,618252,317240,558237,166
Samples by MAIL (avg):1270518100100
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1270518100100
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:330,052325,618252,835240,658237,266
Copies not distributed (office):2595613,4813,194
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):290,978259,123288,604288,783247,417
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:46.9%44.3%53.2%54.2%50.7%
Copies existent:330,052325,877253,396244,139258,460
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:53.1%55.7%46.6%45.1%48.6%
19751976197719781979
Issue Statement appearing in:#459 May#471 May#483 May#494 April#506 April
Date of filing:10/1/7510/1/7610/1/7710/1/7810/1/79
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$3.00$3.00$5.00$6.75$6.75
Cover price during year:$0.30$0.25$0.35$0.40$0.40
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):493,000470,000457,274476,694338,546
Sales through DEALERS (avg):229,000206,000177,638182,135159,885
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,0002,0002,0761,4661,443
Total PAID circulation (avg):231,000208,000179,714183,601160,928
Samples by MAIL (avg):1,0001,0004001100
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1,0001,0004001100
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:232,000209,000180,114183,711160,928
Copies not distributed (office):4,0002,0001,4844,045121
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):257,000259,000275,676288,938177,496
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:52.1%55.1%60.3%60.6%52.4%
Copies existent:236,000211,000181,598187,756161,449
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:46.9%44.3%39.3%38.5%47.5%
19801981198219831984
Issue Statement appearing in:#519 May#531 May#543 May#554 April#567 May
Date of filing:10/1/8010/1/8110/1/8210/1/8310/1/84
Issues published during year:1212121212
Annual subscription price:$7.95$7.20$7.20$9.00$9.00
Cover price during year:$0.50$0.60$0.60$0.75$0.75
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):324,114290,871284,046263,822253,026
Sales through DEALERS (avg):116,210109,426101,196104,07584,887
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):2,5422,3032,1571,3191,535
Total PAID circulation (avg):118,752111,729103,353105,39486,422
Samples by MAIL (avg):127127677740233
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):127127677740233
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:131,245111,856104,030106,13486,655
Copies not distributed (office):3,3153,3312,4031,9822,823
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):189,554175,684177,613155,706145,548
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:58.5%60.4%62.5%59.0%57.5%
Copies existent:122,194115,187106,433108,11689,478
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:36.6%38.4%36.4%39.9%34.2%
19851986198719881989
Issue Statement appearing in:#578 April#587 Apr#599 Apr#641 Mar. 7#649 Jan
Date of filing:10/1/8510/1/8610/5/8710/31/889/29/89
Issues published during year:1212124212
Annual subscription price:$9.00$9.00$9.00$76.50$9.00
Cover price during year:$0.75$0.75$0.75$1.50$0.75
Total Copies PRINTED (avg):201,814155,111319,645116,41679,215
Sales through DEALERS (avg):65,28859,827180,39597,26169,908
Sales by SUBSCRIPTION (avg):1,3681,3301,372518408
Total PAID circulation (avg):66,65661,157181,76797,77970,316
Samples by MAIL (avg):1271639793271,053
Samples OUTSIDE mail (avg):00000
Total FREE circulation (avg):1271639793271,053
TOTAL DISTRIBUTION:66,78361,320182,74698,10671,369
Copies not distributed (office):3,1032,2466,5607921,268
Copies not distributed (RETURNS):131,92891,545130,33917,5186,578
Reported % Paid/Requested:
% of RUN RETURNED:65.4%59.0%40.8%15.0%8.3%
Copies existent:69,88663,566189,30698,89872,637
SELL-THROUGH at RETAIL:33.0%39.4%56.9%84.0%88.8%




Statement history
Like many DC titles, Action failed to run a Statement for 1963, apparently due to confusion overthe postal rules. But unlike the other books, which skipped 1964 as well, Action ran a Statement for that year.

Action
has the unique distinction of being the last DC comic book for which a Statement of Ownership was filed. Because of the shift from weekly back to monthly frequency, Action must have been slightly ahead of the other books in its production cycle when DC decided to stop shipping comics Second Class in 1989. For whatever reason, the result was that Action alone among DC comics ran a Statement for 1989. (Mad magazine, also published at that time by DC, would continue to do so for years.)