Since the 1980s, retail comic books have contained UPC barcodes. In contrast to consumer items, a 2 or 5 digit additional barcode appears to the right of the 12-digit UPC barcode. The configuration has always been difficult due to shifting requirements within an expanding sector. Online content about comic book barcodes is either out of date or outright inaccurate, adding to the confusion.
UPC barcode numbers are not picked at random by a brand owner, but rather a string of numbers that correspond to a global standard to allow products to be sold globally. The data in a UPC barcode must contain a UPC (GS1) Company Prefix granted by GS1 to a specific brand, an Item Reference Number assigned by the brand owner, and a mathematically derived Check Digit to assure the authenticity and prevent duplicate UPC barcodes from being assigned. See sample:
A two-digit additional barcode was included with the UPC-A in comic books, such as the Superman comic above. A unique title would be identified by the 12-digit UPC number. The two-digit add-on format mirrored the encoding pattern used by magazines and distinguished each issue of a given year.
2 Digit Add-on - Periodical supplemental data that identifies the issue of a given year.
Magazines & comics using 2-digit add-on periodic formats restart at 01 for each new year.
Many major distributors and databases adopted a 5-digit variation add-on barcode numbering structure. As previously noted, there is no set standard for this information, but many comic book publishers and distributors utilize the format shown below. Diamond Comics is one of the more well-known publishers of this system. Please keep in mind that their requirements are severely out of date, but the schema remains the same.
Supplemental data is comprised of 3 components: Issue, Cover Variant, Print Variant:
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 is not a change in cover or printing.
Access to GTIN.cloud® enables members to completely manage their GTIN assignments, create high-resolution barcodes, and control their associated product data.
More importantly, an assigned personal GS1 Barcode consultant will not only assist with any and all questions but will validate information BEFORE publishing.