Every U.S. publication having periodical publication mail privileges must furnish to the Postal Service and publish somewhere in their publication a “Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation” (required by the Act of August 12, 1970, Section 3685, Title 39 of the United States Code). This is usually done in a publication’s year end issue. Yesterday on The Beat comics blog they posted an examination of the 2010 DC Comics circulation figures. MAD publishes theirs in the last issue on the news stands of the year. According to the figures in issue #507, MAD‘s annual paid distribution average per issue in 2010 was 188,825. That’s up from 2009 by a considerable 40,721 copies per issue. That’s also the highest level since 2007, and bucks a two year decline trend:
MAD Paid Circulation in the last 10 years:
- 2001: 208,645
- 2002: 205,441
- 2003: 207,293
- 2004: 211,473
- 2005: 212,696
- 2006: 190,956
- 2007: 205,890
- 2008: 174,567
- 2009: 148,104
- 2010: 188,825
A lot gets made of how low MAD‘s sales are now since it’s heyday, which naysayers and critics always love to attribute to a vague “drop in quality”. My usual response is asking someone to show me a single magazine that has been publishing since 1970 or earlier who’s circulation figures are not a ghostly shadow of their former selves (if they are still in business that is). I also like to point out that MAD‘s biggest 10 year drop in circulation (number of issues as opposed to percentage) was between its all time peak in 1974 at 2,132,655 and its 1983 average of 783,192. This came during the reign of all the classic MAD contributors at arguably the height of their powers. I seriously doubt there was a “drop in quality” in that decade’s time.
MAD still outsells most comic books by a pretty good margin. To put things in perspective, the best selling single issue of 2010 for DC comics according to that article in The Beat I just referenced?… Brightest Day #0 at 129,446 copies. MAD still outsold that best selling comic by an average of over 60,000 copies every issue. Some of the figures on that DC list are astounding… there was a time when only selling an average of 33,000 copies an issue (the 2010 average for Action Comics) would get that title instantly canceled. The publishing biz is in a different place these days.
2010 was a pretty good year for MAD. Circulation rose by 27.5%. It increased in frequency from quarterly to bi-monthly. A brand new animated TV show debuted on the Cartoon Network in September. After having only done one actual movie or TV parody piece in 2009 (“Botchmen”) I am currently working on my 5th four page or longer parody in the last 6 issues, demonstrating a return to more illustration/longer narrative features in the magazine. Lot’s to like there.
What’s next for 2011? No idea… but here’s my wish list:
- A raise for all freelancers (or at least those named Tom… you’re welcome, mssrs Bunk, Cheney and Fowler)
- A MAD “app” for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, etc.
- Another publication increase to 8 issue per year
- A revamped website
- An official digital download subscription
- A raise for all freelancers (did I say that one already?)
- A MAD movie that isn’t “Up the Academy”
- More MAD on the Cartoon Network
- A Christmas fruitcake that isn’t older than the magazine itself
- World peace (right after we get that *#$@# Osama)
Maybe a lot to ask for, but I’ll settle for just the raise.