Barcodes for Comic Books
UPC barcodes have been seen on retail comic books since the 1980s. In contrast to consumer product products, additional barcodes of 2 or 5 digits are added to the 12-digit UPC barcode. Due to shifting requirements within a developing industry, configuration has always been difficult. There is a lot of outdated or misleading information about comic book barcodes available online, which adds to the confusion.
UPC-A: 12-Digit GTIN
Instead of being chosen at random by the brand owner, UPC barcode numbers are a set of numbers that adhere to a global standard, allowing items to be sold anywhere in the world. In order to ensure authenticity and prevent the assignment of duplicate UPC barcodes, a UPC (GS1) Company Prefix provided by GS1 to a specific brand, an Item Reference Number assigned by the brand owner, and a Check Digit that is derived mathematically are all required pieces of information in a UPC barcode. See sample;
Retailers and their respective supply chains rely on brand licensed Company Prefixes and/or UPCs (GTINs). If your company does not have GS1 UPC barcodes, go to www.barcode-us.com.
Supplemental Barcode: 2 or 5 Digit Add-on
As illustrated in the above Superman comic, a 2 digit supplemental barcode was included with the UPC-A. barcode The 12 digit UPC code would identify a unique title. The 2 digit add-on format mirrored the encodation patterned commonly used by magazines and differentiated each issue of a given year.
2 Digit Add-on – Used To Identify Publication Year.
- Monthly magazines require issue codes 01 through 12
- Weekly magazines require issue codes 01 through 53
- Quarterly magazines use issue codes 01, 02, 03, and finally 04
Magazines & comics using 2 digit add-on periodic formats restart at 01 for each new year.
5 Digit Add-on
A numbering scheme for 5 digit variant add-on barcodes was implemented by numerous larger distributors and databases. Although there isn’t a set standard for this information, many publishers and distributors of comic books utilize the following structure. One of the bigger publishers of this system is Diamond Comics.Diamond Comics is one of the larger distributors who publishes this schema. Please note that their specifications are extremely dated but the schema is the same.
5 Digit Add-on – Data is comprised of 3 componenent: Issue, Cover Variant, Print Variant
- Issue of Current Year : First three digits of supplemental code
- Quarterly comics – issue codes 001, 002, 003, and finally 004
- Monthly comic – issue codes 001 through 012
- Weekly comic -issue codes 001 through 053
- Cover Variations indicated by the 4th digit of the supplemental code. Start with “1”. Most companies only have a single cover so this digit is always “1”.
- Printing Variations indicated by the 5th digit of the supplemental code. Start with “1”. Note: print variations depend on the different materials used. For some comics sold both direct (via mail) and in-store, the two options may have different material types. For example, there are lighter newspaper material available as well as thicker paper options, which can also be glossy
Comic book publishers only need to obtain barcodes for issues for one year and will be able to reuse the barcodes every year IF there not not a change in cover or printing.
Example of Comic Book with UPC-A 5 Digit Supplemental
UPC-A: 759606081240 = Title: Star Wars Darth Vader
Cover Variant: 4
Print Variant: 1
Obtaining Barcodes for Comics
High precision digital barcode files (.eps) for comic books and magazines can easily be generated at www.createbarcodes.com for only $10 each. Both 2 and 5 digit supplemental barcode formats are available.
For companies who need comprehensive assistance with both obtaining UPC codes and digital barcodes, we offer support which is available at https://www.GTIN.cloud.