Ok, how about this for an idea. We take it in turns to post a favourite (British spelling) comic cover every day. This went really well on the comic fan website that I used to frequent. What we tried to do was find a theme or subject and follow that, until we all got bored with that theme. I'd like to propose a theme of letters of the alphabet. So, for the remainder of October (only 5 days) and all of November, we post comic cover pictures associated with the letter "A". Then in December, we post covers pertaining to the letter "B". The association to the letter can be as tenuous as you want it to be. For example I could post a cover from "Adventure Comics" or "Amazing Spider Man". However Spider Man covers can also be posted when we're on the letter "S". Adventure Comic covers could also be posted when we're on the letter "L" if they depict the Legion of Super Heroes. So, no real hard, fast rules - in fact the cleverer the interpretation of the letter, the better, as far as I'm concerned.
And it's not written in stone that we have to post a cover every day. There may be some days when no cover gets posted. There's nothing wrong with this, it just demonstrates that we all have lives to lead.
If everyone's in agreement I'd like to kick this off with one of my favourite Action Comic covers, from January 1967. Curt Swan really excelled himself here.
Richard & Luke,
Thanks for the comments.
I did a little searching around on the internet and it appears that Patrick McGoohan may have been recognizable in the US by the time the Espionage cover was produced, and he would be linked to the "spy" genre. I found multiple mentions that the first season of Danger Man aired in the US in 1961 on CBS (Wikipedia says from April 3 to September 13), Additionally, Dell published an issue of Danger Man (Four Color # 1231, September-November 1961).
I think the stores paid for the issues, and got a partial refund on returned issues. Maybe it worked like this: the issues would come in; sometime after the sale period the bill for them came due; the retailers paid the bill out of their receipts, and a portion of the price of the unsold issues was deducted from the bill.
You wouldn't accept an order you were going to have to pay for unless you had some say in what you were getting. When the stores belonged to a chain the chain may have made the ordering decisions.
When Danger Man came to the USA it was retitled Secret Agent, and its theme song, Secret Agent Man was pretty popular for a while. I watched it as a kid, but the song is what I remember best about it.
Distribution may have worked differently in Australia and other countries. I don't think I've ever heard how it worked except in the U.S.
As I understand it, returnable magazine and paperback books that were (and still are) unsold had their covers stripped. The covers were returned to the distributors who in turn would send them back to the publishers. This is how the publishers determined what was selling and what wasn't. Whenever a comics buyer was offered a coverless comic for half price it was likely stolen goods. The distributors and the publishers would lose money. I believe most of the loss would be the cost of printing and eaten by the publishers. Even the best-selling comics and other magazines would have large numbers of returns. When distributors or retailers refused to display controversial items such as 1950s horror and crime comics or Warren's Blazing Combat magazine the publishers would lose almost their entire investment, which resulted in their cancellation.
When retailers in the U.S. decided that their profits on comic books were too low and didn't want to rack them in their limited space it almost destroyed the comics industry. The direct market to comic stores saved the industry but also made marketing to the general public very difficult.
I know even less about distribution in Australia than I do distribution in the US.
Retailers must have stood to lose money if they don't do the stripping, as otherwise they wouldn't have bothered doing it. So either they paid for the consignment and got money back by stripping, or by stripping reduced the bill.
Whoever placed orders must have had skin in the game so they stood to lose money if they over-ordered. It could be the retailers ordered the consignments by size, and the distributors decided the title mix. But even in that case there would have been a danger of retailer over-ordering (in the form of ordering too large a consignment), so they must have borne part of the cost of unsold issues, if only a small part.
I sometimes wonder if there were tiers to the distributor system: a national distributor, and local distributors it distributed to.
Here DC owned its own distributor, Independent News. When Martin Goodwin put himself in the position of relying on DC to distribute Marvel books the covers had "IND" in small letters. The local distributors that dealt with the retailers were, I believe, separate businesses.
I think the convention of cover-dating comics and other magazines a few months ahead probably developed as a way of encouraging the retailers to keep them in their racks longer. In those days there were some retailers who would return all comics when they received the latest issue of the same title. Some others I noticed would retain two issues or even three of the same title either until they sold or were too beaten up to sell, at which time they could still return the cover. The retailers would be liable for the discounted cost of a comic whether or not it sold until they returned the cover.
Dave Palmer said:
I found multiple mentions that the first season of Danger Man aired in the US in 1961 on CBS (Wikipedia says from April 3 to September 13)
The world ending back then actually would explain an awful lot that's happened since then...