Published every six weeks

Sep 1, 2019

I’ve been reading comics for what seems like forever (since 1963) and I never noticed this until today. I’ve just looked at some other comics from the period and it seems Charlton issued many of their titles in 1973 every six weeks rather their more usual bi-monthly frequency.

Here in the UK most comics were either weekly or monthly. In the States anything seemed to go. Many Dell comics were only published four times a year. DCs were often published eight times a year with the indicia listing the months when there wasn’t an issue of your favourite comic. A few Archie comics had really odd publishing schedules. Six comics of a title published in the Summer over two months and then no more for months after that. Smaller publishers were just as random.

This particular Charlton comic featured the annual “Statement of Ownership”. Of the earlier comic used for the statement it seems that 213658 issues were printed. 121232 reached newsstands and were presumably sold. 91815 reached newsstands and weren’t sold. The figures were all quite similar in the following years too. Having those figures in front of them why on earth did they continue to print so many more copies than they knew they could actually sell? It doesn’t make financial sense (unless by having their own printing presses it actually only cost them 1cent per issue to produce?). I’ve often wondered if some of those “unsold” issues weren’t just destroyed but were the ones that ended up here in the UK. I particularly recall buying Charlton comics in the Autumn of 1974 that had newly appeared on the spinner racks yet displayed 1973 dates.

So I went through some more of my Charlton Ghostly Haunts and found these circulation figures:

YEAR   PRINTED   SOLD   UNSOLD

1972   213658   121232   91815

1973   240400   153600   88665

1974   220000   126800   90784

1975   210000   107946   84672

1976   230000   110000   114340

The differences between the totals of sold/unsold and printed are made up by subscription issues (a mere 50 or 60 each month) and spoiled copies that for whatever reason didn’t print right and weren’t a good enough quality to sell. In 1975 there were 17000 spoiled copies of one issue!!

PS: The host of the comic was Ms Winifred Witcherly (Winnie the Witch). Her looks changed dramatically from issue to issue depending on who was doing the artwork. She varied from looking quite sexy to looking downright bizarre (if Ditko was doing a rush-job).

PPS: This Charlton comic, like all the others they published from the 1940s/50s to the 1980s suffers from diabolical printing, blurred text, terrible colouring and even the pages are poorly trimmed. I think the comics got worse as the years went by as the printing presses (originally used to print Cornflakes boxes?!?) began to wear out.

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