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

Last Updated: 25th June 2019

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 detailed archives of sales – many in impressive giant ledgers – is DC Thomson, publishers of The Beano. But here’s what information we have been able to assemble for sales figures prior to 2000…

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 Peter Hansen, Richard Sheaf, Kev Sutherland and Shaquille le Vesconte for their locating of some of the information below


1950s British Comic Sales Figures

An internal Amalgamated Press document compiled in September 1960 detailing the estimated home circulations, in thousands, for key British comics between February 1959 and 1960. My reading of this is that this is the average sales per issue, over a quarter. Yes, you read that right - over one million weekly sales for The Beano. The drop in sales during the period is probably attributable to the seven week 1959 printers strike, which took place mid year, as there is a dip in sales across almost every title. There's an article about it's impact on one paper here on Newbury Today.
An internal Amalgamated Press document compiled in September 1960 detailing the estimated home circulations, in thousands, for key British comics between February 1959 and 1960. My reading of this is that this is the average sales per issue, over a quarter. Yes, you read that right – over one million weekly sales for The Beano. The drop in sales during the period is probably attributable to the seven week 1959 printers strike, which took place mid year, as there is a dip in sales across almost every title. There’s an article about its impact on one paper here on Newbury Today.

Sources:

• Some of these figures were published in the Comics UK Forum and Technodelic’s Gerry Anderson: The Complete Comics History site, now archived on the Internet Archive. For modern comic sales from 2006 onwards, follow the links on our British Comics Q&A Page.

• 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.

• In June 2019 I added figures gleaned from an internal Amalgamated Press document compiled in September 1960, detailing the estimated home circulations, in thousands, for key British comics between February 1959 and 1960. My reading of this document is that this is the average sales per issue, over a quarter, when titles such as The Beano were selling over one million a week. Comic artist Martin Baines​ noted that the drop in sales during the period, which might be attributable to the 1959 printers strike, which took place mid year, as there is a dip in sales across almost every title. There’s an article about its impact on one paper here on Newbury Today.

Humour Comics

 The Beano

1953: 1,000,000

February 1959 – 1,226,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 1,238,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 1,204,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 1,136,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Beezer

February 1959 – 584,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 599,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 581,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 594,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

The Dandy 

1953: 1,000,000

February 1959 – 1,102,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 1,106,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 1,087,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 1.020,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Knockout  + Radio Fun  + Film Fun

1953: 1,300,000

Micky Mouse Weekly – see also “Walt Disney Weekly”, below

1953: 523,497

Topper

February 1959 – 847,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 855,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 837,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 777,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 758,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 713,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

TV Comic

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

February 1959 – 156,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 154,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 157,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 139,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Walt Disney’s Weekly

February 1959 – 341,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 230,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 237,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 187,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 170,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 137,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Boy’s Comics

Adventure

1953: 339,715

February 1959 – 187,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 194,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue
September 1959 – 173,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 162,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Champion

1953: 133,000

Eagle

1953: 0.75m

February 1959 – 672,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 610,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 597,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 564,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Hotspur

1953: 343,079

February 1959 – 179,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 172,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
September 1959 – 157,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 174,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

Rover

1953: 394,301

February 1959 – 232,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 232,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue
September 1959 – 212,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 214,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

TV Express Weekly

February 1959 – 188,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 176,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 170,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 152,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 143,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 140,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Wizard

1953: 386,534

February 1959 – 239,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 228,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
September 1959 – 210,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 226,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

Girls Comics AND MAGAZINES

Boyfriend

February 1959 – 356,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 356,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 280,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 247,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 296,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 314,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Bunty

February 1959 – 574,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 561,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 590,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 651,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
February 1960 – 642,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 594,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Family Star

February 1959 – 123,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 113,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 109,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 110,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 111,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – “Boost Issue”
May 1960 – 86,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Girl

1953: 500,000

February 1959 – 491,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 480,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 484,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 470,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Mirabelle

February 1959 – 382,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 346,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
September 1959 – 354,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 344,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

Red Letter

February 1959 – 263,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 246,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 235,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 233,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
February 1960 – 214,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 165,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Red Star

February 1959 – 199,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 181,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 178,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 166,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
February 1960 – 159,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 143,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Romeo

February 1959 – 307,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 319,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
September 1959 – 317,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 323,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue
February 1960 – 296,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 253,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

School Friend

1953: 945,768

Secrets

February 1959 – 199,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 163,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 160,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 147,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 149,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 150,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Silver Star

February 1959 – 146,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 133,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 135,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 125,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 201,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 160,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

 Junior Comics

Robin

1953: 200,000

February 1959 – 261,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 266,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 277,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 271,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 276,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 270,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Sunny Stories

February 1959 – 66,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 65,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 62,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 62,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
February 1960 – 58,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 53,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Swift

February 1959 – 153,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1959 – 154,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
September 1959 – 149,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
November 1959 – 171,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Sales Boost
February 1960 – 153,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 140,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960


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.

HUMOUR COMICS

The Beano

February 1960 – 1,084,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 1,052,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Beezer

February 1960 – 592,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 578,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

The Dandy 

February 1960 – 1,016,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 959,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Topper

February 1960 – 758,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 713,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

TV Comic

1960: 186,778

February 1960 – 129,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 126,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

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

Walt Disney’s Weekly

February 1960 – 170,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 137,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Boys Comics

Adventure

Adventure

February 1960 – 194,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue
May 1960 – 164,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

1962: 180,275

Eagle

February 1960 – 529,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 515,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue

1962: 411,976

Hotspur

February 1960 – 154,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 171,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Lion

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

Lion & Champion

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

Rover

February 1960 – 212,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 231,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue

1962: 180,275

TV Century 21

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

TV Express Weekly

February 1960 – 143,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 140,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

TV Tornado
1968: 261,333

Wizard

February 1960 – 200,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 222,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

Girls Comics

Girl

February 1960 – 440,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 407,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Intermediate Boost Issue

1962: 276,895

Judy

February 1960 – 564,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 576,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Marty

February 1960 – 575,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 295,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Mirabelle

February 1960 – 354,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960 – Boost Issue
May 1960 – 295,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Lady Penelope

1968: 315,662
1969: 198,656

Red Letter

February 1960 – 214,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 165,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Red Star

February 1960 – 159,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 143,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Romeo

February 1960 – 296,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 253,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

School Friend

1961: 414,000

 

Secrets

February 1960 – 149,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 150,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

Silver Star

February 1960 – 201,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 160,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960

JUNIOR TITLES

Swift

February 1960 – 153,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960
May 1960 – 140,000 – IPC “Home Sales” Memo, compiled September 1960


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)

1983/4 – A Snapshot

From Fantasy Advertiser December 1984, reporting on the sales of comics from 83/84. Figures were falling fast for some titles. Tammy was cancelled when sales dropped markedly below 100,000, considered at one point a “healthy” sales level for weekly comics titles.

UK Comic Sales 1983 - 84

(With thanks to David McDonald of Hibernia Comics for the scan)

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 Martin Baines, Norman Boyd, Richard Sheaf, Phil Shrimpton and Shaqui le Vesconte for their help with this page