Archie Sales Figures for 2008

It’s that time of year again. Due to the way they mail subscriptions, Archie Comics are required to file Statements of Ownership, Management, and Circulation in their publications. So I collect the figures to see how an often-overlooked comic franchise is doing.

These are the Total Paid and/or Requested Circulation figures that Archie files with the government. The first number is the Average No. Copies Each Issue During Preceding 12 Months; the second is No. Copies of Single Issue Published Nearest to Filing Date. (My thanks to Mike Sterling for his assistance compiling these.)

Title Issue Average Nearest Issue Percent Difference
Archie #593 13,259 13,305 0.3%
Archie & Friends #127 9,388 10,133 7.9%
Betty #178 8,864 10,322 16.4%
Betty & Veronica #240 11,963 12,953 8.3%
Betty & Veronica Spectacular #87 8,891 9,364 5.3%
Jughead #193 10,718 30,046 180.3%
Sabrina the Teenage Witch #100 7,404 7,421 0.2%
Sonic the Hedgehog #196 29,613 32,009 8.1%
Veronica #193 8,230 9,149 11.2%
Title Issue Average Nearest Issue Percent Difference
Archie Digest #251 66,005 70,896 7.4%
Archie’s Double Digest #195 97,584 101,917 4.4%
Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest #128 74,430 86,338 16.0%
Betty & Veronica Digest #191 57,961 64,764 11.7%
Betty & Veronica Double Digest #168 100,073 103,868 3.8%
Jughead and Friends Digest #31 49,829 53,394 7.2%
Jughead’s Double Digest #147 82,035 89,152 8.7%
Tales From Riverdale Digest #32 57,177 59,885 4.7%

Sonic X ended in December with issue #40, to be replaced with Sonic Universe, which began at the end of February. For comparison, here are last year’s figures.

Here are the titles in order of best- to worst-selling based on average sales (the first number).

  1. Betty & Veronica Double Digest
  2. Archie’s Double Digest
  3. Jughead’s Double Digest
  4. Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest
  5. Archie Digest
  6. Betty & Veronica Digest
  7. Tales From Riverdale Digest
  8. Jughead and Friends Digest
  9. Sonic the Hedgehog
  10. Archie
  11. Betty & Veronica
  12. Jughead
  13. Archie & Friends
  14. Betty & Veronica Spectacular
  15. Betty
  16. Veronica
  17. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Well, now we know why Sabrina ended with #100. It’s not just that its sales put it last, but that it wasn’t showing any growth. Note that the two titles closest to it demonstrate a double-digit percent change from Average to Most Recent numbers.

This list is in roughly the same order as last year, with the digests selling better than Sonic, which beats the Archie titles. (And the bigger digests sell better than the smaller ones.) The top-selling digest does more than 100K, while Sonic is in the 30,000 range. The top-selling Archie comic is around 13,000, with declines from there. Pals’n’Gals (which contains the latest “new look” gimmick story) swapped places with Jughead’s Double. The only other changes come in the last six books on the list. Archie & Friends (which is now doing continued stories) and Betty & Veronica Spectacular climbed; Sabrina and Veronica (which, in my opinion, has no distinct purpose or approach) dropped.

Now, let’s order them in terms of percentage change:

  1. Jughead — sales almost tripled
  2. Betty
  3. Archie’s Pals ‘n’ Gals Double Digest
  4. Betty & Veronica Digest
  5. Veronica
  6. Jughead’s Double Digest
  7. Betty & Veronica
  8. Sonic the Hedgehog
  9. Archie & Friends
  10. Archie Digest
  11. Jughead and Friends Digest
  12. Betty & Veronica Spectacular
  13. Tales From Riverdale Digest
  14. Archie’s Double Digest
  15. Betty & Veronica Double Digest
  16. Archie
  17. Sabrina the Teenage Witch

I don’t really believe that Jughead figure, and I can think of no reason for it. The interesting thing about this list is that last year, four titles declined. This year, everything shows growth except for the last two books on the list.


25 Responses to “Archie Sales Figures for 2008”

  1. Shannon Smith Says:

    I don’t remember buying any Jugheads in the past year but I do remember a few that have interesting enough covers that I almost wanted to buy it. I like Jughead but Jughead and Sonic are probably the least appealing of those to my daughter. Nice to see positive numbers in comics these days. The sad news is that the Anderson bankruptcy still has about 100 Food City stores sans Archie books so I am currently sans Archie access. It’s only been about a week and a half now and I don’t know how much damage losing 100 stores would be but it certainly can’t help.

  2. CoreyBean Says:

    It’s interesting to see Archie’s actually numbers. Sonic sells better that most superhero comics. Looking at the digest numbers, I’m surprised Marvel & DC don’t try something similar with all the old material they could reprint. I bet a Spider-Man or Batman digest could sell to kids.

  3. jdh417 Says:

    There was a Spider-Man digest back in the 80’s. Shrinking the format and very pulpy newsprint really hurt readability. There was a DC Blue Ribbon (?) digest that featured reprints. Mickey and Donald also had reprint digests back then, but only Archie survived.

    I have recently seen a magazine-sized Spider-Man comic on the newsstand aimed at kids . No idea if it’s still around.

  4. Kiki Says:

    First I want to thank you for putting these figures together. It’s interesting to see them – I just don’t want to do the work myself. ;)

    Sonic is still the best-moving comic in my elementary library – the 2nd graders and kindergarteners are very big on him this year. And the Sonic Archives also do well.

    A Sabrina anecdote. When the manga storyline started, it had a lot of fans. But when Harvey was basically written out last year and the focus shifted entirely to the Magic Realm, some of the girls lost interest. One of the comments I heard was that it wasn’t enough like the reruns of the TV show they watched on cable. While I loved what Del Rio did, I wonder if she had kept the focus more on the love triangle/school aspect would it have done better. Or are my girls just odd? I’m still hoping Archie will collect all the issues in manga style volumes and a new group of readers will find and love it.

  5. Johanna Says:

    Well, I can’t argue with those girls, because I felt the same way. I liked the school romance better than the Magic Realm wars.

    I fear the window for the collections has closed.

  6. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » March 9, 2009: Many, many bullet lists Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson looks at Archie Comics’ reported sales figures for 2008. [...]

  7. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Food or Comics | A roundup of money-related news Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson compiles 2008 circulation figures for Archie Comics, which help to explain why Sabrina the Teenage Witch was [...]

  8. ejulp (John) Says:

    Johanna, these numbers are the sum total of all the direct market, mail-subscription, and newsstand sales for the U.S., correct? Or does this also include circulation numbers for sales in other countries, Canada for example?

  9. Torsten Adair Says:

    So the monthly comics are published so that those stories can be reprinted in the digests at a later date?

    I also wonder what effect the upcoming “marriage” stories in Archie #600-605 will have on circulation. Any information on sales of the graphic novel collections (anthologies and New Look)?

  10. John Jackson Miller Says:

    Ejulp, the Statement figures are the total of all the direct market, subscription, and newsstand sales for whatever title has the Periodical class license, and no other printings. What this means is that the Statement figures have generally covered all comics sold in North America, plus any copies of the U.S. printing that are sold overseas. I’m guessing Canadian cover variants of comics in earlier years would likely have been bundled in total numbers, as well, being treated just like Whitman versions of Marvel, DC, and Gold Key comics.

    As to the digests, there have been reports that since Archie helped create the grocery point-of-sale digest racking program decades ago, it receives a grandfathered position in those otherwise prohibitively expensive racks. (As with many other choice locations in stores, the suppliers have to pay to be there.) Archie did a lot of work on product placement through the CMAA over the years.

  11. John Jackson Miller Says:

    I would also quickly note that the “Nearest Issue” totals are almost always higher than the averages, because all the returns have not come in on the issues being reported in the Statement. It’s why I never use the Nearest Issue figures in The Comics Chronicles — they’re accurate as to most recent print run and subscriber counts, but the total sales numbers are not very meaningful since the issues in question are still cycling. The Average figure is the more reliable.

  12. Archie Comics Sales Figures | Nerd Dads! Says:

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  13. Sean Murphy Says:

    For some time, I’ve thought that the comics industry was being hurt by the lack of a presence in supermarkets, drug stores and what-not, as it decreased the amount of “impulse buying” (either by a kid or by the adult trying to keep the kid quiet). These figures seem to bear this up – monthly books don’t do nearly as well as those that are sitting right there while someone is in line to buy their groceries.

  14. John Jackson Miller Says:

    I also feel the newsstand is the place where price resistance is highest — parents remember what they think everything “used to cost” — and so digests do well in comparison. Parents don’t remember what they paid for digests, so they’re less likely to balk. TPBs have less price resistance for the same reason, I think.

    I’ve worked for a publisher that paid to be in POS displays — I can’t remember what the fee was, but it’s startling. You sell way more copies, but it costs.

  15. Brian Cronin Says:

    Interesting stuff, Johanna.

    Jughead was just made bi-monthly, right? I wonder why, its sales don’t seem any different from the other titles.

  16. Johanna Says:

    I haven’t been following release schedules, so I don’t know about the bimonthly status, sorry.

  17. Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources - Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment » Unbound: Calling Riverdale on your iPhone Says:

    [...] for that number to increase, and at least one title (one of the weaker sellers, from the looks of their ABC figures) will move away from print and become a download-only [...]

  18. Media Discover Archie/Veronica Marriage an Imaginary Story » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] over 54,000″ while #597 sold about 2,500 copies. However, that doesn’t consider newsstand sales, which last year were around 13,000 an issue, or five times the sales in dedicated comic stores. [...]

  19. Jim Welch Says:

    My experience is that there is a big market for used digests. I would imagine that many of th digests are sold two or three times in the second hand market.
    Are there any numbers (advertising survey or whatever) on what the readership of the digests are?

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    [...] to fight off a sales drop due to the comic’s lack of contemperanity. But looking at sales figures for Archie in 2008, and then looking at similar figures for 2009, we can see numbers consistently trending up. Archie [...]

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