When DC Asked Readers If They Wanted To Read Comics About Black People

Marvel Comics Executive Editor Tom Brevoort is reminding readers of the survey that DC Comics once took of its readers in 1970, finding out what they wanted to read about in DC Comics titles at a time when, as Brevoort puts it "comic book sales in general were continuing to erode, as both the number of outlets carrying comic books declined as the traditional Mom & Pop candy stores gave way to larger chains and the affidavit reporting system for returning unsold copies for credit was rife with corruption and misuse, resulting in a mountain of lost sales." The survey was commissioned from a third party, Mark Clements Research, and this is the ad that ran.

When DC Asked Readers If They Wanted To Read Comics About Black People
DC Comics survey from 1970

And yes, asking how interested readers were in reading about "Pollution, Black People, Space Flights, National Problems, City Problems, Sports, Hobbies, Romance and Astrology". I would love to have known the thinking about those particular categories. And Brevoort published the results of the surveys used as a marketing tool for companies to advertise in DC Comics titles. Sadly it does not include the results of that question… though given DC Comics' general publishing schedules of the decade that followed "stories about black people" may not have figured highly. Not even when Superman asked them to "rap".

When DC Asked Readers If They Wanted To Read Comics About Black People
DC Comics survey response from 1971

The results, from 100,000 returns, has the average weekly comics spend of $1.18 – which would translate as $8.34 today. Or course that was when a comic was around 15 cents an issue rather than the common $3.99 now. So the average weekly spend used to buy you eight comics, now it buys you two… while the average time spent reading those comics was three hours. And, as you can also see, the breadth of genre being published, even in 1970, was far greater than DC Comics does now – and Superman had a family of titles, when Batman did not.

 

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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