Understanding Comic Book Cover Dates

DC comics romance line house advertisement 1960s

Just wanted to share with you today this little DC house ad from Heart Throbs #104 (October/November 1966). Not only is it visually intriguing, I think it nicely illustrates the difference between comic book cover dates and actual publication dates -- which can get pretty confusing if you ask me!

This particular house ad advertises Girls' Romances #120 (cover date of October 1966, "on sale" date of August 25th, 1966) and Young Love #58 (cover date of November/December 1966, "on sale" date of August 13th, 1966). Why the two different dates? Well, these two comics both went on sale (or were technically "published") in August of 1966. The other dates (which are listed on the cover and indicia) refer to the date by which the comic was to be pulled off the newsstand in the event that any issues went unsold.

You have probably noticed that I always use the cover date here at Sequential Crush -- just a little simpler, and it is the industry standard when referring to older comics. Even though I use the cover date as a point of reference, when I am reading the romance comic book stories I always find it important to hold the earlier "on sale" date in mind to account for things that may seem outdated or out of place. The stories were of course for the most part written and illustrated even months prior to the sale date (though surely some were last minute additions), which must be accounted for also. Society, fashion, and popular culture were all changing rapidly at this time, and the romance comics appear to have done a pretty good job of incorporating true-to-life tidbits despite the rigorous publishing schedule -- adding to their magazine-like quality that was so popular with readers.