The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine ??
April 15, 2010
Although the UK version of Fantastic Four still states that it is “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine”, it is over 3 years since the original comic used that sub-title. Stan Lee introduced the claim way back in issue No 4 in 1962 (and perhaps whilst Jack Kirby provided the art, the fans agreed) and amazingly it was still there above the title as recently as 2006 (although personally I think it should have been removed in the early 1980s).
So the question now is this: what should be the current holder of the title “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” ?? It certainly isn’t “Invicible” which far from being the best comic in the universe is possibly the worst comic I’ve read all year.
Whilst reading Fantastic Four 572 another surprise was seeing that they still print that “Statement of Ownership Management and Circulation” small print. These evidently legal requirements (something to do with second class postage??) have appeared periodically (annually??) for as long as I have been reading comics. The only change I have noticed is the drastic decline of the numbers of comics printed and sold. I used to be amazed that often Charlton comics would give a figure for the print run of an issue and a figure for unsold issues/returns which was at least 50% of the original figure. Surely it wasn’t cost effective to print so many and yet have so many unsold. I assumed that those “unsold” comics would end up in the UK a few months later.
So, according to the small print in Fantastic Four 572, currently only around 15000 issues per month of what was “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine” are now sold !!!!
Co-incidentally I’ve just been flicking through some old comics. Iron Man 170 coverdated May 1983 also contains one of those “Statement of Ownership” thingys. That title was then averaging 360,000 issues per month and it wasn’t even Marvel’s best selling title. Hmmm, if the downward trend continues perhaps new comics will soon only be available on your iPad (whatever one of those is). It’s a good job that my “to-read” pile of proper paper back issues is taller than I am !!
Perhaps “Spiderman” still sells more but it begs the question of how well some of the lesser titles are doing. Perhaps it’s true that all new comics are produced these days with the creator’s eyes firmly fixed not on magazine sales but on the potential of far more lucrative spin-offs into TV, Film or even cartoons.