British Comics Sales Figures: The Good Old Days

Eagle Volume 1 (1950-51)
Eagle Volume 1 (1950-51). Image via ComPal Auctions

Last Updated: 29th April 2017

Sales figures for British comics are somewhat difficult to ascertain, in part because many of the companies that published them no longer do so. The only company that has archives of sales – many in impressive giant ledgers – is DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano.

Where comics carried advertising, sales figures may be available from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, who still document sales, which include subscription sales, today. Figures can also be found in the press directories held at the British Newspaper Library.

This page offers only the slimmest of insights into the sales of British comics in past decades and further information is welcomed.

For modern comic sales from 2006 onwards, follow the links on our British Comics Q&A Page.

My thanks to Richard Sheaf, Kev Sutherland and Shaquille le Vesconte for their locating of some of the information below


1950s British Comic Sales Figures

Sources:

• Some of these figures were published in the Comics UK Forum and Technodelic’s Gerry Anderson: The Complete Comics History site. (Source: ABC)

• George H. Pumphrey was a campaigner in the 1950s on the issue of children’s comics, particularly on the ‘moral panic’ that surrounded them at the time, and he published three items of interest: a pamphlet – Comics and your children”;  and two books – Children’s Comics – A Guide for Parents and Teachers ( published in 1955); and What Children think of their Comics (1964).

In his 1955 book he included figures sourced from the Financial Times which provided figures for the weekly circulation of children’s comics between January and June 1953. While the figures for Eagle, Girl and Robin are all suspiciously nice round numbers, we do at least have some numbers.

Humour Comics

 The Beano

1953: 1,000,000

The Dandy 

1953: 1,000,000

Knockout  + Radio Fun  + Film Fun

1953: 1,300,000

Micky Mouse Weekly

1953: 523,497

TV Comic

1953: 268,391
1954: 301,059
1955: 256,664
1956: 239,397
1957: 226,889
1958: 210,493
1959: 205,423

Boy’s Comics

Adventure

1953: 339,715

Champion

1953: 133,000

Eagle

1953: 0.75m

Hostpur

1953: 343,079

Rover

1953: 394,301

Wizard

1953: 386,534

Girls Comics

Girl

1953: 500,000

School Friend

1953: 945,768

 Junior Comics

Robin

1953: 200,000


eagle-volume-11

1960s Comic Sales Figures

In George H. Pumphrey’s What Children think of their Comics he again quotes the 750,000  for Eagle in 1953 and adds “…circulation figures are jealously guarded by publishers, but where advertisements are taken it is possible to get some information…”. What he found is included below.

TV Comic

1960: 186,778
1961: 172, 699
1962: 192,197
1963: 311,096
1964: 281,816
1965: 280,020
1967: 244,002
1968: 181,486
1969-1973: Unknown

 

Boys Comics

Adventure

1962: 180,275

Eagle

1962: 411,976

Lion

1964: 313,097
1965: 266,135
1966: 260,409

Lion & Champion

1967: 265,549
1968: 259,268
1969: 234,954

Rover

1962: 180,275

TV Century 21

1967: 495,661
1968: 359,712
1969: 250,155

TV Tornado
1968: 261,333

Girls Comics

Girl

1962: 276,895

Lady Penelope

1968: 315,662
1969: 198,656

School Friend

1961: 414,000


1970s Comic Sales Figures

Look-In

1973: 201,478
1974: 290,985
1975: 213,421
1976: 207,864
1977-79: Unknown

TV Comic

1969-1973: Unknown
1974: 121,463
1975 & 1976: 121,503

Boys Comics

Lion & Eagle

1970: 236,714
1971: 205,766

Lion & Thunder

1972: 237, 354
1973: 180, 950
1974: 144, 908

TV21 & Joe 90
1970: 203,043
1971: 175,662

Valiant

1970: 305, 026
1971: 265, 868
1972: 265, 868
1973: 251, 993
1974: 189, 502

Girls Comics

Lady Penelope

1970: 101,024


1980s Comic Sales Figures

Look-In

1980: 272,514 (Jan-Jun)
1981: 280,605 (Jul-Dec)
1982: 253,857 (Jul-Dec)
1983: 260,307 (Jul-Dec)
1984: 271,459 (Jul-Dec)
1985-86: Unknown
1987: 208,838 (Jan-Jun)
1988: Unknown
1989: 208,102 (Jan-Jun)

1984 – A Snapshot

These figures from the March 1985 edition of British Comic World Volume One, Issue 4 (included in an insert entitled BCW Extra) offer an insight into comic sales on the UK news stand at the time

British Comic World Volume One, Issue 4 - UK Comic Sales


1990s Comic Sales Figures

Look-In

1990: 177,497 (Jan-Jun)
1991: 128,035 (Jan-Jun)
1992: 84,898 (Jan-Jun)

My thanks to  Richard Sheaf and Shaqui le Vesconte for their help with this page.

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