MAD runs postal circulation statement, last one left in comics industry

 Find this issue on eBay

Earlier this month, MAD magazine did something it’s done regularly every year since the 1950s: it ran its Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation for the year, this one in issue #549. It did so as well at the end of 2016, in #543 — and while that year’s form was notable for being the first to include electronic sales, we didn’t know something else at the time: that it would be the only title to publish a form in the entire comics industry in 2016.

That’s because, to date, no forms with 2016 data have been found in any 2017 cover-dated Archie publications, neither digests nor regular comics. Archie had, like Mad, run forms with something pretty close to clockwork regularity for half a century — but the large number of its series reboots  may have impacted what titles require forms, plus many of the digests of late have been renamed or transformed into something else. I have not had confirmation from Archie that the forms are gone for good, but after a year it’s possible that it could be a case like Marvel‘s earlier this decade: that publisher just stopped running them. If the same holds true in 2017, then the 2017 data set is likewise now complete with just one title’s form, down from a probably peak of 170 titles running forms in 1961.

It also would wind down a large comics circulation data set just around the time that I’ve finally collected most of what’s out there. (Learn more about Statements of Ownership here, and see some of the data.)

While other researchers and I continue to find oddball titles with Statements (not many would have thought to look in Cool Cat for Black Magic‘s 1961 data, or in Favorite Funnies, Alan Light‘s short-lived comic strip magazine, for its sole form), I finish 2017 with full data from 3,907 forms, and at least the average annual sales numbers from 21 more.

Beyond those only 184 suspected forms remain, though that count includes 22 forms which I believe Harvey failed to print any numbers in. Then 35 more would be from magazines Cracked, Comic Relief, and CarToons, with another seven suspected in Shonen Jump — so that’s really a maximum of 120 postal bottom line circ numbers that I don’t have, mostly in early 1960s Charltons and Harveys. A good number of those simply don’t exist.

The last one left: the form from MAD #549.

Specifically to Mad‘s posting (my thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the form, as I’ve had trouble finding the physical issue) its sales during this year of its move to California went up, from 133,512 to 138,598 copies, with losses in newsstand sales more than covered by increases in subscriptions. 2016’s form included 412 average electronic copies sold per issue; 2017 reported 233.

It remains to be seen if Archie will print filings again, or if another comics publisher will start; if anyone does, we’ll track it as well. But with 2017’s website redesign mostly complete here, 2018 should be the year the nearly-finished Postal Data Set finally gets updated on here, with a list of what’s missing or suspected for each year. Stay tuned!

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