The 2nd Print Newsstand Phenom...or "This Shouldn't Exist!!"
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9 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

 

They are interesting little artifacts, these comics that shouldn't exist at all. And it's amazing that they were discovered, long after the era of the internet, quietly hiding in tiny numbers throughout the land. It's amazing they survived at all. By rights, they could all have been destroyed, and no one would have ever known they existed. It remains endlessly fascinating that such things exist, waiting to be discovered, in an era of massive overproduction and glut. If these can be discovered, decades after they were made, then there's no reason there aren't others out there.

I guess we'll see!

 

Awesome posting.   Thanks!

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I don't understand the "should not exist" claim. If there was no mechanism to order for the Newsstand, that just meant that the publisher was deciding how many copies to send out there. Since publishers knew the books were an instant sellout, it would make sense that reprints for newsstands would sell as well, without anyone requesting them specifically

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2 hours ago, GeeksAreMyPeeps said:

I don't understand the "should not exist" claim. If there was no mechanism to order for the Newsstand, that just meant that the publisher was deciding how many copies to send out there. Since publishers knew the books were an instant sellout, it would make sense that reprints for newsstands would sell as well, without anyone requesting them specifically

Did you read the whole post? The answer as to why they shouldn't exist is found there. The Direct market and the newsstand operated in completely different ways, under completely different principles. Without the special request of someone in the newsstand distribution system, these books would not exist. 

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3 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

Did you read the whole post? The answer as to why they shouldn't exist is found there. The Direct market and the newsstand operated in completely different ways, under completely different principles. Without the special request of someone in the newsstand distribution system, these books would not exist. 

I did read the whole post, but I'm not seeing any more support for what you're suggesting than the scenario I tossed out there. (Not saying that I have it right, just that the evidence isn't there either way.) There may have been no mechanism in place for an outlet to order specific books, but certainly the publisher is deciding what books get out there in the first place. It's logical that they would want more copies of a book out there (without an exterior influence askign for them) of a book that was an instant sell-out, since the probability is high that the new copies will sell as well.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, GeeksAreMyPeeps said:

I did read the whole post, but I'm not seeing any more support for what you're suggesting than the scenario I tossed out there. (Not saying that I have it right, just that the evidence isn't there either way.) There may have been no mechanism in place for an outlet to order specific books, but certainly the publisher is deciding what books get out there in the first place. It's logical that they would want more copies of a book out there (without an exterior influence askign for them) of a book that was an instant sell-out, since the probability is high that the new copies will sell as well.

Because there's a fundamental difference between the Direct market and the newsstand distribution systems. The Direct market printed to order. The newsstand printed as they always had: in excess of what was expected to sell, expecting a typical sell-through of 25-50%. Sellouts in the Direct market were rare but they did happen, and there was a mechanism by which retailers could immediately let the distributors know if something sold out: the reorder system. The newsstand market had no such device, and circulation departments wouldn't know if something had sold out for months after the fact. It's unlikely that anyone in the circulation departments even considered that a sellout in the Direct market would translate into a desire for reprints to the newsstand market. It's not that they couldn't...it's that they simply never considered it, nor would they have reason to...as demonstrated by the fact that Marvel only did it once, and DC only did it twice, despite there being dozens of immediate reprints during the time frame. Nothing was preventing them from doing as you suggest...but that's not how the circulation departments dealt with the newsstand market.

And we know they never considered it, because it didn't happen again at Marvel, and only happened again at DC because of the once-in-a-lifetime event of Superman #75...and they still forgot how to do it for the second print of that book!

In fact...the people at Marvel and DC probably thought the idea was a bit strange, if they thought about it at all. After all, this was a time when the publishers were actively pushing the Direct market (remember the "find your local comic store" ads....?) and would likely have figured that anyone who missed out at the newsstand would certainly be able to find a reprint at their local comic store. The newsstand market was dying, and would soon become a non-factor in publishing decisions. Sending additional copies to the Direct market AND the newsstand likely seemed redundant.

If, as you suggest, this idea came FROM the publishers, if they thought this was a legitimate source of additional revenue, then reason says they would have done it more than once or twice...but they did not. And Marvel and DC were under orders to milk every dime they could. As well, we can be reasonably sure that Wal-Mart was the customer, at least for the Spidermans. If the idea came from the publishers, the books would have gone into the distribution system...not just to one retailer, which happened to be, at the time, one of the biggest in the world. The numbers thrown out...10,000 for the Spiderman....reinforce that. 10,000 copies into the national newsstand distribution is nothing; that would have been perhaps 1 or 2 copies per newsstand account across the US and Canada at the time...maybe less. But to one retailer...even a large one...it's a decent amount.

I recognize that a lot of this is speculation, but looking at the facts and understanding how the two systems operated, the conclusion becomes clear. These books shouldn't exist...and under normal circumstances, wouldn't...but they do. These were one-offs, special favors done for special circumstances, not plans for new revenue streams.

Finally...though not quite in the same timeframe, Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics, has stated that Supergirl #1 (1996) third print was made specifically at the request of a single comic retailer, and printed to the tune of 1,000 copies...which, in 1996, would have been unheard of for a DC title, outside of that special request.

Edited by RockMyAmadeus

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26 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

Finally...though not quite in the same timeframe, Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics, has stated that Supergirl #1 (1996) third print was made specifically at the request of a single comic retailer, and printed to the tune of 1,000 copies...which, in 1996, would have been unheard of for a DC title, outside of that special request.

That's essentially a retailer-exclusive prototype masquerading as having legit distribution. I'm not sure that history is going to look kindly on all these retailer-exclusives, since they're basically "cratered" on the map around the location of the shop/convention. 

Splat. 

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Posted (edited)

Excellent post. Now I'm wondering if I should go pick up that 4th print Superman 75 newsstand that had a ton of dead bugs in it. I picked up 2 near mint copies this weekend

Edited by Wolverinex

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Did you reprint your post? Looks like it's doubled up in the OP...

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10 minutes ago, AGGIEZ said:

Did you reprint your post? Looks like it's doubled up in the OP...

That doesn't count because his duplicate post doesn't have a UPC. :kidaround:

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53 minutes ago, valiantman said:
1 hour ago, AGGIEZ said:

Did you reprint your post? Looks like it's doubled up in the OP...

That doesn't count because his duplicate post doesn't have a UPC. :kidaround:

That was an unauthorized reproduction; all copies have been gathered up and destroyed.

:whistle:

 

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18 hours ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

Because there's a fundamental difference between the Direct market and the newsstand distribution systems. The Direct market printed to order. The newsstand printed as they always had: in excess of what was expected to sell, expecting a typical sell-through of 25-50%. Sellouts in the Direct market were rare but they did happen, and there was a mechanism by which retailers could immediately let the distributors know if something sold out: the reorder system. The newsstand market had no such device, and circulation departments wouldn't know if something had sold out for months after the fact. It's unlikely that anyone in the circulation departments even considered that a sellout in the Direct market would translate into a desire for reprints to the newsstand market. It's not that they couldn't...it's that they simply never considered it, nor would they have reason to...as demonstrated by the fact that Marvel only did it once, and DC only did it twice, despite there being dozens of immediate reprints during the time frame. Nothing was preventing them from doing as you suggest...but that's not how the circulation departments dealt with the newsstand market.

And we know they never considered it, because it didn't happen again at Marvel, and only happened again at DC because of the once-in-a-lifetime event of Superman #75...and they still forgot how to do it for the second print of that book!

In fact...the people at Marvel and DC probably thought the idea was a bit strange, if they thought about it at all. After all, this was a time when the publishers were actively pushing the Direct market (remember the "find your local comic store" ads....?) and would likely have figured that anyone who missed out at the newsstand would certainly be able to find a reprint at their local comic store. The newsstand market was dying, and would soon become a non-factor in publishing decisions. Sending additional copies to the Direct market AND the newsstand likely seemed redundant.

If, as you suggest, this idea came FROM the publishers, if they thought this was a legitimate source of additional revenue, then reason says they would have done it more than once or twice...but they did not. And Marvel and DC were under orders to milk every dime they could. As well, we can be reasonably sure that Wal-Mart was the customer, at least for the Spidermans. If the idea came from the publishers, the books would have gone into the distribution system...not just to one retailer, which happened to be, at the time, one of the biggest in the world. The numbers thrown out...10,000 for the Spiderman....reinforce that. 10,000 copies into the national newsstand distribution is nothing; that would have been perhaps 1 or 2 copies per newsstand account across the US and Canada at the time...maybe less. But to one retailer...even a large one...it's a decent amount.

I recognize that a lot of this is speculation, but looking at the facts and understanding how the two systems operated, the conclusion becomes clear. These books shouldn't exist...and under normal circumstances, wouldn't...but they do. These were one-offs, special favors done for special circumstances, not plans for new revenue streams.

Finally...though not quite in the same timeframe, Paul Levitz, former president of DC Comics, has stated that Supergirl #1 (1996) third print was made specifically at the request of a single comic retailer, and printed to the tune of 1,000 copies...which, in 1996, would have been unheard of for a DC title, outside of that special request.

I'm not stating that the scenario as you present it isn't possible, but I think you're jumping to some conclusions about what should and what shouldn't have happened, and what people would have been considering.

One possibility: as noted, the reprint for Spider-man was different from previous reprints in that the cover was significantly different. Perhaps that was reason enough to distribute the reprints through the newsstand (especially since the anticipated demand for this book was very high, before release).

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1 hour ago, GeeksAreMyPeeps said:

I'm not stating that the scenario as you present it isn't possible, but I think you're jumping to some conclusions about what should and what shouldn't have happened, and what people would have been considering.

I don't, for all the reasons given. The books shouldn't exist because there was no reason for them to, aside from a special request outside the publishers. They were a one-off at Marvel, and a twice-off at DC (the second time during the once-in-a-lifetime event of Superman #75), never to be repeated in the same way. We may not have the smoking gun...but we can see the body lying on the floor, a bullet wound to the chest, spent shell casing under the radiator, and the faint odor of cordite still lingering in the stuffy air of the 3rd floor walkup in Brooklyn...

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I will concede this: Superman #75 3rd and 4th newsstands were produced because of internal consideration at DC. Without a doubt. But that's because Superman #75 was...and I cannot stress this enough, to those who didn't live through it...a legitimate once-in-a-lifetime book. Nothing in comics history compares, either before or after. DC would have been absolutely flooded with the results of their fun little experiment, and they not only rushed back to press three times within two months, it's certainly completely plausible that, for the first, last, and only time in newsstand history, they would have received a tremendous response from the distributors in the Curtis circulation system, and as a result, they decided it would be worthwhile to send reprints out into both streams...and we can see how awkward it was, with the 2nd print "sticker" copies. It was clearly something with which DC had very little experience (as before, with Robin #1 and the Roman numeral II being left off the cover.)

But, again, I have to stress the "once-in-a-lifetime"ness of Superman #75.

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I suspect that, if the newsstand sales had stopped (or even slowed) cratering at the rate that it was in the early 90s, there would have been more of these newsstand second and third prints. Comic sales overall were higher than they had been in 15-20 years, and Marvel and DC were ready to keep all of the hot books available. But even if some issues were selling through at the newsstand, which they hadn't done in a while, there wasn't the sales opportunity there. What was the distribution ratio in 1992? 7:1? Higher?

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56 minutes ago, RCheli said:

I suspect that, if the newsstand sales had stopped (or even slowed) cratering at the rate that it was in the early 90s, there would have been more of these newsstand second and third prints. Comic sales overall were higher than they had been in 15-20 years, and Marvel and DC were ready to keep all of the hot books available. But even if some issues were selling through at the newsstand, which they hadn't done in a while, there wasn't the sales opportunity there. What was the distribution ratio in 1992? 7:1? Higher?

For the reasons stated above, I don't think that would have happened. Reprints were not something that the newsstand market was capable of handling.

Here's another reason: these reprints didn't occur instantly. It took two months for these books to get made, printed, and distributed. But they couldn't give a new cover date to these books, obviously. The cover dates were still the method by which the newsstands knew to remove remaining copies for sale. Superman #50 came out in October of 1990 (and the newsstand 1sts came out a week or two later, depending on local conditions.) The reprints didn't show up until December. But the book had a December cover date. So what were newsstand vendors supposed to do with December cover dated books they got in December...?

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17 minutes ago, RockMyAmadeus said:

For the reasons stated above, I don't think that would have happened. Reprints were not something that the newsstand market was capable of handling.

Here's another reason: these reprints didn't occur instantly. It took two months for these books to get made, printed, and distributed. But they couldn't give a new cover date to these books, obviously. The cover dates were still the method by which the newsstands knew to remove remaining copies for sale. Superman #50 came out in October of 1990 (and the newsstand 1sts came out a week or two later, depending on local conditions.) The reprints didn't show up until December. But the book had a December cover date. So what were newsstand vendors supposed to do with December cover dated books they got in December...?

That's not true. By the 80s, newsstands did not go by dates on the cover; they went by the color stripe at the top of the book. (Think about it: not every comic published even had a month on their cover.) So all the comics with the green stripes were shipped on the same week, and the newsagent -- before putting the new books out for the week -- would pull all the green stripes that were still for sale on the rack. They'd put them aside, strip off the top cover, and return them for credit. 

Then the next week, it was a red stripe at the top; then black; then... another color I don't remember. (They had 5 different colors.)

So if you wanted a second print, you'd just have to make sure that the distribution stripe was the same color as what was being put out for sale that week. They'd be up for 4 or 5 weeks (depending on that month's cycle).

 

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13 minutes ago, RCheli said:

That's not true.

It is true.

14 minutes ago, RCheli said:

By the 80s, newsstands did not go by dates on the cover; they went by the color stripe at the top of the book.

That wasn't true for every newsstand. It depended on what the regional distributor did. It's why you don't see paint strips on every comic prior to the Direct market: not all of them went by the color code system, and some of them did, indeed, still go by cover dates. You'll find far more books without color coding from the 50s/60s/70s than you will with.

15 minutes ago, RCheli said:

(Think about it: not every comic published even had a month on their cover.)

And? Prior to Image, which was a mess, you don't find many books on the newsstand which didn't have their pull month on the cover...and most Image books did, even though they were a disaster and cover dates were completely unreliable. Again: that's what cover dates were for, and had been for for decades. 

Let me belabor the point: the purpose of cover dates...from the 30s to the 10s...was to tell vendors when to remove books for sale and return them for credit. That some newsstand distributors used the "stripe" method doesn't negate that. It is why, in the 90s and 00s, you see the move of the cover date to the UPC box for newsstand Marvels and DCs, and the removal of it from the cover entirely for Direct editions.

s-l1600.jpg

 

 

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You are wrong. Yes, cover dates were used in the 30s through the 60s to see what had to be pulled (though removing an old issue from the stands was usually prompted by when the next issue of the series came out). In the 70s, many local distributors were marking the top with spray or markers or something so the newsagents could more easily manage their comics. But by the 80s -- AND CERTAINLY BY THE EARLY 90s -- the comic companies were printing the colored bar on the top of the comics. Newsagents did not have the time to look at each comic to see the cover date. They looked at the top of the comic and just pulled every one of those colors off.

I know what I'm talking about. I worked at Matz's Newsstand in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for about 3 months in 1984 (for the sole purpose of getting my comics early; my friend, Jen Hassler's grandfather owned the place). That was how the comics were removed.

Image was not the only publisher that didn't have a date on the cover. No comic from Western/Gold Key/Dell/Whitman -- which had many more titles than Image -- had them. And while their comic output was much smaller by the 80s, they had the colored bar on the top to let the newsstands know when to remove them.

 

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