Dollar Comics

Dollar Comics

Dollar Comics was a line of DC Comics comic book publications issued from 1977 to 1983. They included the titles Superman Family, House of Mystery, G.I. Combat, World's Finest Comics, Batman Family, and Adventure Comics; as well as the series of specials with the umbrella title of DC Special Series. Dollar Comics were notable for costing $1, having 64 pages, and being advertising-free.

History

According to then-DC publisher Jenette Kahn, comics' price-per-page value had been declining since the "Golden Age." When superhero comics debuted in the late 1930s, they featured 64 pages of art for 10¢. As the decades passed, comparable publications liked Time and Life raised their prices, while comics stayed at 10 cents and reduced their page-count. Finally in 1962, National Periodical Publications/DC raised its price to 12¢, a 20% increase.[1] (Comparable magazines, in contrast, were by then 3.5-to-5 times their original price.) By 1977, even though the typical price of a comic book was 35¢, it still lagged far behind its magazine competition, thus decreasing its appeal for newsvendors[1] (which at that point — before the generalized 1980s shift to direct market distribution — was still the dominant retailing location for comics). Thus, the idea for Dollar Comics was born.

Writing for the Silver Bullet Comic Books website, John Wells detailed Dollar Comics' history:

When Jenette Kahn took over as DC's publisher in 1976, the average comic book contained only 17 pages of story for 35¢. Nearly half of each issue was filled with advertising and editorial content. Kahn's initial response was 1977's line of Dollar Comics. In terms of content, a Dollar Comic gave readers approximately the story pages of four 35¢ comic books for the price of three. From the retailer perspective, the Dollar Comic represented a greater profit than the standard 35¢ issues.[1] And just to make sure nobody missed them, the books were a quarter-inch taller than other comics and had a distinctive trade dress. The first two conversions to the format — House of Mystery and Superman Family — hit the stands shortly before Christmas in 1976 and the other two expanded titles — G.I. Combat and World's Finest Comics — debuted in January 1977. Sales on these — and several summer specials with the umbrella title of DC Special Series — paid off well enough to justify an expansion of the line in 1978. The Batman Family joined the fold in January and, at the dawn of the line-expanding DC Explosion in June, Adventure Comics came aboard. One of the perks of the Explosion was the complete elimination of advertising in the Dollar Comics and the addition of wraparound covers. They lost the quarter-inch height advantage, though. The DC Explosion, sadly, became an implosion almost immediately and, within a year, the ads were back, and the page count had shrunk. In 1980, DC made its second attempt at a line expansion and this time it clicked. The Dollar Comics were ad-free again by the end of the year. [2]

Most Dollar Comics titles began as traditional format books and expanded to the Dollar Comic format. All-Out War and Time Warp were short lived series which were published entirely as Dollar Comics. Several anniversary issues such as Action Comics #500 and The Flash #300 were also in the format as were the DC annuals for 1982 and 1983.

Dollar Comics titles [2]

References

  1. ^ a b c Kahn, Jenette. "And Now... Still Another Message of Untold Importance from our Prolific Publisher!!" Superman #310 (April 1977).
  2. ^ a b Wells, John. "It's BobRo the Answer Man: Everything Manhunter, Part Two," Silver Bullet Comic Books (August 5, 2002). Accessed March 6, 2009.

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