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A note on Marvel Comics dating

There is often a lot of confusion over exactly when some of the issues of both the US and UK comics went on sale. The cover dates can sometimes add to the confusion. This note aims to explain things as best as possible.

US comic

When the comic began in 1984, Marvel issues were normally cover dated four months ahead of their going on sale. This was partially a hangover from the days of fierce newsstand competition when each company tried to make its comics look newer than its rivals and partially a mechanism to compensate for slower distribution on newsstands and overseas sales.

As a result of this although issue #1 is cover dated September it went on sale in May. This is supported by the first Usenet post about Transformers which was posted by Ted Nolan to net.comics on May 22nd 1984.

In 1989 Marvel decided to rationalise things by moving to a system where the cover date was only two months in advance. In order to achieve this issues released in August 1989 have the cover date "Mid November", those in September 1989 have "December" and those in October "Mid December". The relevant Transformers issues were #59, #60 and #61.

UK comic

The date on a British weekly during Transformers's run was normally the off-sale date when it would be replaced by the next issue. For example issue #283 has a cover date of 18th August 1990 but was released on the 11th August 1990. During at least most of the run the norm was for weekly comics to come out on a Saturday.

Occasionally an issue was seen arriving on the Friday before it was "due", with such sightings usually during the Christmas/New Year period when distribution can be unsettled and overcompensated for, but it is hard to verify individual sightings.

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