Comics publishers have some survey data, although nothing like A.C. Nielsen’s Bookscan yet exists. Most of it stays private, while the less embarrassing stats wind up in advertising media kits.
One of the problems with publishers interviewing their own customers is that we only get one blind man’s view of the elephant, as the cliché goes. The typical CBG
reader, for example, is highly educated, has a job, has been in the hobby for many years, and owns tens of thousands of comic books. (At least, that was before we went monthly and mass-market. No data yet on you newbies — so don’t let us down!) But, certainly, our reader is more educated than most comics readers, more employed, has been in the hobby longer, and owns more comics than the average comics fan. We just don’t know how above average you are!
There have been other small, but noble, local efforts to fight the darkness. I met a retailer once who ran a massive survey, recording the demographics and buying habits of hundreds of her customers, using multivariate regression on the results to determine strength of correlation. We had our second child last November.
So, in the absence of data, we have a lot of hunches.
We say most comics buyers are guys, and we feel pretty safe in that. Or we did, until manga came along.
We say the average reader is in his late 20s or early 30s, and we feel significantly further out on a limb there. In fact, some of our wider surveys have suggested there are two “peaks” to the age graph — during adolescence and in the 20s — with a big dropoff in readership during high school, when we’re going on dates or getting beaten up. (In my case, both. My junior prom date had a problem with anger management.) And the height of those demographic peaks varies. When there’s a boom, like the one in the early 1990s, the younger set really plows into comics as a fad — and the average reader’s age drops like a pet rock. Then something else comes along, and it all changes again.