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John Jackson Miller and other pop culture archaeologists interested in comics history.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Comics sales spotlight: Complete postal data for House of Mystery, 1960-1982

by John Jackson Miller
It's been a while since we've done any Title Spotlights on Comichron, listing all the postal Statement of Ownership circulation data from the 500+ titles confirmed to have run forms with numbers; in part, the plan was to wait for the redesign and for new templates to display the information. That redesign is now ongoing, so here's the first new title to be added: Click to see the full postal sales data for DC's House of Mystery.

The longest-running horror series at DC, the House of Mystery provided a showcase for strange and macabre stories beginning with the first issue in late 1951. The issue set the tone with the series with stories with names such as "Wanda Was a Werewolf," "I Fell In Love with a Witch," "Man or Monster?" and "The Curse of Seabury Manor.") Cain, the caretaker, kept the horror stories flowing straight on through the early 1980s, logging an impressive run of 321 issues. A companion House of Secrets was built next door later in the 1950s for Cain's milder-mannered brother.

Statements of Ownership appeared for many years in the title before DC (or, rather, National Periodical Publications) was required to publish sales figures beginning in 1960. The first report with numbers appeared in #107 of the series; the figure reported was 208,000 copies sold per issue. number declined in the early 1960s and the title's frequency was cut to eight issues a year. That assisted sales, boosting them close to 200,000 copies per issue; the addition of superhero stories in 1964-66 may also have helped. Frequency reduction helped boost sales briefly again in the late 1960s as the title was cut to bimonthly and the horror focus returned.. Sales plummeted when the title went back to monthly in the late 1970s, with a new low set in the DC Implosion year of 1978; the title fell below 100,000 copies for the first time.

Some recovery took place as the Direct Market continued to flourish, but the title finally went out at a low of just under 75,000 copies sold per issue.

As with other DC titles, DC did not print sales figures in its Statements in 1963 and 1964. DC stopped mailing subscription copies Second Class in 1987, putting an end to its need to publish circulation statements.

But Cain—and poor Abel—would find a home in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series in the 1990s, and DC would revive the title name for a Vertigo series that ran for 42 issues beginning in 2008. Sales for that title can be found in our monthly reports. And DC reprinted many House of Mystery issues in its Showcase collected editions.
John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 20 years, including a decade editing the industry's retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.  He is the author of several novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive, and Star Wars: A New Dawn, now available in paperback. All three volumes of his novel trilogy for 2016, Star Trek: Prey, are now on sale. His latest work appears in Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone from Titan Books.

Visit his fiction site at And be sure to follow Comichron on Twitter and Facebook.
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