How Marvel Comics First Overtook DC Comics In 1972
Today, the best-selling publisher of comic books in America is Scholastic. The second is Random House. But in the last half of 1972, that was suddenly Marvel Comics for the first time. One of the earliest comic book retailers and comic historian Bob Beerbohm (author of Comic Book Store Wars) set up the Californian comic book store and the first comic book chain. He has many tales to tell, including showing off the flyer printed to mark the occasion, from his friend Brian Kane. Bob Beerbohm writes on Facebook, with permission to republish;
Last Half of 1972 Marvel announces their firm has finally overtaken DC comics to become #1 publisher of comic books in America. Marvel claims on this flyer "…in the world…" but that is hyperbole on their part. Reason How this was accomplished? Not from story quality, etc, but from an under-handed tactic of initially agreeing with DC for a cover price hike to 25 cents with DC Then doing that price hike to 25 cents for just one month of comic books, BUT, then secretly dropping back down to 20 cents the following month. Catching and blind-siding DC in that processMarvel beginning to outsell DC was and is predicated on customers seeing 5 Marvels for a buck VS just 4 DC for a buck. I saw the customer purchasing cross over from DC to Marvel for that very reason, firsthand, up close and personal. We had just opened our first of many Comics & Comix stores in the Bay Area.
Marvel Comics would remain the dominant comic bookseller in the US newsstand and comic book store, until Image Comics and a Death Of Superman hyped DC Comics would push them out briefly. However, DC Comics always performed better at the bookstore than Marvel – and still do. Though Scholastic, Penguin Random House, Viz Media and Kodansha have pushed them both down the list in recent years.