Comichron

is creating an archive of comics history
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About Comichron

I'm John Jackson Miller, a lifelong comics fan who's been working in the American comic-book industry for more than 25 years, as a journalist, business analyst, and creator. I'm also something of a pop-culture archaeologist, specializing in — among other things — comic book circulation history, as presented regularly on Comichron.com

Chronicling comics sales history is a  strange obsession, to be sure — but one that produces information that people need. As the editor of Comics Retailer (later Comics & Games Retailer), the trade magazine for the comics industry, for the decade immediately following the collapse of the 1990s, I saw firsthand what could happen if collectors and retailers lacked information on how many comic books existed. While speculation alone didn't fuel the boom and bust of the early 1990s, far too many collectors made decisions based on incomplete information about scarcity. When one of the "hot" comic books had a circulation of more than 8 million copies, it's clear it wasn't going to paying for anyone's college!



Having the numbers in circulation is, thus, a collective good. It also helps to provide needed perspective about the comics market. The comics industry nearly collapsed in the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s; the 21st century has seen tumultuous times, but nothing on that scale. The wider one's focus is across the whole of comics history, in fact, the more one sees how resilient the business has been. We get in jams; we invent solutions. And often the solutions cause the next set of problems!

These things are visible at 30,000 feet — but they also require accurate information about what sold, and when. To that end, I work both forward and backward, adding up-to-the-present information about new material, while also adding past months and years to the website.

The site — and the sets. Comichron.com has more than 170,000 sales figures for comic books and graphic novels online, most of which are the result of my own research and estimates. They fall into several categories:

  • Monthly distributor sales. The best-known set is based on distributor sales to comics stores in North America — I've done a monthly report every single month since 1996, and have been slowly working backwards to add more information from earlier charts. Comichron's physical archives for distributor sales charts goes back to the 1980s, including from defunct distributors; I rescued one major firm's records from the incinerator! As time progresses, more of that material will be online.


  • Postal sales statistics. As a consequence of postal regulations, publishers were required to publish annual average sales in the comics themselves, beginning in 1960. While almost no comic book publishers print the "Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation" forms today, around 4,000 of them exist — a fact known because I've collected 98% of them. Some of that material is online here and here — but there is a lot more to be published.
  • Audit bureau data. Back when advertising in comic books was still a big business, the major publishers belonged to audit bureaus whose job it was to track sales of their comic books; the idea was advertisers wanted to be sure their books were reaching the promised audiences. That data primarily exists only on microfilm archived with the main bureau; I've made pilgrimages to get that information, which goes back to the dawn of comics in the 1930s. That material will find its way onto the site at some point as well.
In addition, I use the Comichron space to report on the state of the industry overall, such as in our annual joint report with ICV2, as well as answer a number of questions about comics.

Looking for data on comics prices across time? Where did comics numbering come from? How about information on how often series get restarted? These are the kinds of questions that Comichron is a great resource for.

The need. Since leaving the trade magazine business, for the last decade-plus, writing comics and novels has been my day job; check out my Star Wars, Star Trek and other works here. While progress on Comichron.com has been constant — I've never missed a monthly posting of comics sales estimates, regardless of where I was or what I was doing — research and publication have had to take a back seat to paying assignments. Advertising on the site helps to cover the server time but not my own, and it doesn't pay for the the software and hardware required to make more materials available. Nor does it cover other research expenses, like travel to locations to obtain more data, or the purchase of older comic books and archival materials to find published circulation data.

Because my goal is both preserving and expanding knowledge about comics history, it's important that the online products of Comichron research — charts, videos — continue to be free. No paywalls, no subscriptions. But Patreon offers the tools necessary to allow supporters early access to things like videos and newsletters, and I may be taking advantage of those in the future as time allows.

Join the quest! At present, the request is just for ongoing support — only one tier, and our appreciation — but it's entirely possible some of those other things will become part of the Patreon offerings. By contributing, you'll see those announcements as they happen.

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