At some point, every comics reader--no matter their taste, no matter their personality--has a moment where they notice something and think to themselves, "Geez. Who the hell is buying that?"
Because it's comics, the answer is usually "the creator's friends and family, no one else", but the rest of the time, it's just "other people." You don't know them, even if you've met them. They aren't part of your current social network. But what if they were?
A dead woman once supposedly said that she'd "never met anyone who voted for [a specific Republican president]", and while she might have meant that as a criticism of Republican voters, it always read to me as a wistful call for companionship across divisive lines. Who doesn't want to have more pals, more conversations, more late-night political discussions with people they wouldn't normally associate with due to some non-specific intellectual differences, most of which have been created merely as a way to dissociate oneself from one's upbringing? As anyone in a long-term relationship (like a marriage) can tell you, the best sex you'll ever have is with someone who hates almost everything about you.
General problems, such as these, will not find their solution in general answers. Specificity is the rule, and it is with specificity that the following experiment was carried out. Firstly, a single comic book title had to be selected, and for the purposes of a breadth of sample data, the comic had to be one which has existed for an extended period of time. Second, the comic had to be one where older issues of it were cheaply accessible, as the comiXology budget is limited to things involving plugs and wires. Third--and most importantly--the comics in question had to feature advertisements.
The thing about advertisements is that their goal is always the same: they exist so that the advertiser can increase their profits. They may work to build brand identification, but this is so that their brand will see a growth in returns. They may work to make the audience hate their physical appearance, but this is so that the audience will buy products or services to lessen that self-loathing. You can never trust an advertisement to tell you the truth, but you can always trust that an advertiser wants your money, and the blatant consistency of this objective has a gorgeous reality to it, one that acts as the milk of human kindness in a sea of aesthetic confusion.
Advertisers can be trusted--more than creators, more than public relation shills--to have taken at least a second to figure out if it was worth their time to fill the page of a comic book. If you see an ad, it's because the company was willing to bet actual money that their product's potential audience (or to be more accurate, their preferred demographic) was going to look at the comic that contained those ads.
Ads, to bring this convolution to an end, could be the most reliable indicator of who reads a comic. It's worth having one. In comics, anecdotal evidence abounds--almost all statements regarding "do girls buy comics?" that you see written on blogs rely solely on such anecdotes, almost none of which are provided with caveats. When there's an ad for ugly green Kias on the back of DC's Wednesday Comics, that means that the Hyundai Kia Motor Group believes (or was led to believe by DC's ad sales representatives) that the primary buying audience for Wednesday Comics was a group of people who A) were blind, B) had no self-respect and C) were in the market for a shitty car. Is this true? It's impossible to tell, although blindness might explain why there were no blood riots over that lame Superman story, and all that car-shopping might have left them too distracted to crown Brian Azzarello Master of Greyskull for including a premature ejaculation joke in his Batman story. But the problem inherent in one-ad dissections is that one can never cover the full breadth of the audience. For that, you need an experiment, a control, and plenty of ads.
And that's where Matthew Murdock comes into play.
Daredevil # 8, June 1965 Plot: Daredevil meets Stilt-Man for the first time, beats Stilt-Man.
Advertisements: Mason Shoes (home business) US Government Surplus (Jeeps for less than 300 bucks) Strat-O-Matic (fantasy baseball program) Yubiwaza (self-defense program, by mail) Hypno-Coin (what it sounds like) Grit (family newspaper) Two pages of crap , two dollar hot air balloon Auto Mechanic instruction by mail Six foot tall poster of a monster Fishing crap Two pages of crap, two dollar hot air balloon Two pages of Marvel house ads
Back cover ad: Famous Art school, including a list of America's most famous artists.
Analysis of likely reader: The primary audience would seem to be male children & male teenagers, as they are the most likely candidates to purchase fishing equipment, self-defense classes, kitschy hypno-coins, and the advertisements for home based businesses (Grit & Mason Shoes) depict male sellers. The back cover ad--which is the most expensive--is a comic book classic, one that understands the common inclination comic book readers have for wanting to make these things themselves. Thus, we've got a boy & his older brother, and they've got some money (but not much) that they like to spend on cheap, poorly made items.
Daredevil # 101, July 1973 Plot: Daredevil meets hippie with super-powers, beats hippie.
Advertisements: Bodybuilding course by mail Strategy & Tactics (fantasy wargames) Full page of crap, poems set to music by mail Drafting instruction by mail Locksmith school by mail Full page of crap, crash diet by mail Full page of crap, stetch wig to cover sideburns Full page of crap, learn guitar by mail National School of Conservation, work outside for government Grit (family newspaper) Karate by mail The day Bill told off his boss (ad for the Cleveland Institute of Electronics) fishing crap
Back cover ad: Tech college by mail.
Analysis of likely reader: Here, the likely audience seems to be someone who dislikes themselves, a reader likely to look upon their current status quo as one where disappointment and missed opportunities abound, and is willing to spend money on diets, wigs, and or karate/drafting/locksmith/guitar/bodybuilding/electrical engineering lessons to "make a change". After ten years, Daredevil stories still draw enough potential fishers and Grit employees for those companies to purchase ad space, and, in a smart bit of story content-based advertisement, the possible hippie reader can go all Dharma Bums and get a job working for the Conservation Department. And so, it's still a boy & his older brother, but it's the 70's now. Things have changed in the world, it's a scary place, and maybe they don't look as good or feel as righteous as they once did. It's time for a change--not a real one that requires work, but one that can be purchased via mail. It's the thought that counts. Daredevil # 201, December 1983 Plot: Daredevil meets Binion Brothers, Black Widow beats Binion Brothers. (Daredevil has broken arm.)
Advertisements: Burgertime atari game ABC saturday morning cartoon line-up, Menudo Punch n' juicy gum, shaped like a wheel NBC saturday morning cartoons, two page spread contest, prize is a new gold corvette. MPC sponsered, model makers James Bond role playing game Star Frontiers role playing game Kool-Aid man video game
Back cover ad: Q-Bert video game
Analysis of likely reader: It may hurt some to hear it, but the evidence is obvious: in 1983, the primary audience for Daredevil comics was small children who watched cartoons and teenage fans who played non-D&D role playing games. Anybody else may have seen their money welcomed, but they clearly weren't expected.
Daredevil # 301, February 1992 Plot: Daredevil beats up homeless drug addict, Owl kills same homeless drug addict.
Advertisements: Tiny Toons Adventures video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game Three Simpsons video games Mile High Comics full pager BMG cd club Rifts role playing game, Ad about getting an ad in Marvel comics, contact name is "Rita Smolinski" High school by mail, Great Eastern Conventions schedule. Jim Lee, Starlin, Gaiman and Mark Bagley at the Ramada. Another TMNT video game ad, different game from first one.
Back cover ad: Game Genie add-on for cheating at Nintendo games.
Analysis of likely reader: Interestingly enough, the reader hasn't changed much from ten years ago, as if Daredevil had stayed exactly the same for ten years. Role playing games and cartoons have been mostly replaced by video games based on those same role-playing games and cartoons, and comic book fan culture--Mile High back issue ads, signing conventions--have begun to appear somewhere outside of the letters column. The ads are mostly asexual, although they all carry a pretty aggressive, male-leaning point of view. The reader at this point still seems to be in his teens. The most interesting aspect of this issue is that Marvel failed to sell enough advertisements in this issue, so they've filled up a page advertising their ability to sell advertising space. Which they weren't very good at doing at this point. But this was in the early 90's, when Marvel wasn't very good at doing all kinds of things involving what they sold and what they bought.
Daredevil # 20, September 2001 Plot: A rich man wants to hire Matthew Murdock to sue Daredevil, talking ensues.
Advertisements: Government enforced anti-smoking ad paid for by Lorillard, the manufacturer of Newports, Mavericks, etc. (This ad is supposed to be lame and make the audience want to start smoking in protest.) The Brendan Fraser/Chris Kattan film Monkeybone's DVD release. Corn Nuts Frosted Flakes Lone Star Comics Juicy Fruit Monsterskate.com Gundam toys 5 ads for Marvel Comics
Back cover ad: Gushers gum
Analysis of likely reader: The reader likes processed snack food, comics, and Marvel now sees it being more profitable to them to use the available ad pages to market their own products, instead of selling them to someone else. Without evidence, there's two possible explanations for this change: no one wanted to buy these ad pages, as the comic book buying audience was now too small to convince potential ad buyers of profit gains (which is totally possible in the post-90's era), or Marvel no longer felt it necessary to spend time promoting something that they didn't have a stake in. Either way, it's an interesting bridge to now, but it doesn't show a marked difference between the two previous decades.
Daredevil # 504, January 2010 Plot: Daredevil and his ninja army beat up police officers, take them to sewer jail.
Advertisements: Honda Civic 8 ads for other Marvel products Forza video game ad.
Back cover ad: Spartacus blood & sand television show.
Analysis of likely (and current) reader: It should be obvious enough: the reader is not a teenager, the reader is not a child. The reader has grown up with Marvel Comics, and Marvel Comics is dependent on the current reader for not only this product, but all of their other ones as well. The reader needs an efficient, non-flashy car to drive them to the comic store, and if they are hankering for something fancier, they can play a video game where they drive an expensive, flashy car. But they really should get back to buying Marvel comics in between episodes of a show about half-naked men killing each other on a pay-cable network.
Notes:  Unless the problem is "how can i meet people of any kind, but really just so we can do it", to which the answer is "craigslist casual encounters". Bring ro$e$!
 You may struggle to understand why James Robinson makes the choices he makes in his horrible Justice League comics, but no one ever stops to question why Ian Sattler claims these horrible choices are actually good ones--it's Ian Sattler's job to make money, not art, and it wouldn't logically follow for him to do anything other than cheerlead the content of the work he helps shepherd to publication.
 It is worth noting that comics have never been as dependent on advertisements as print magazines, meaning the choices were probably made at functionary levels. The projected demographic figures would, in this case, be most likely to stem from the publishers themselves, and the accuracy of what those ads say about the primary reader would carry more than a bit of wishful thinking to them. That's the caveat to this entire enterprise, if you were looking for one.
 This is because all bloggers are lazy, except for me.
 For reference, "pages of crap" will be used to describe those ad pages made up of 10-30 small advertisments for mail-in products, like X-Ray Spex, Sea Urchins, handguns.
 Issue 201 arrives closest to the Frank Miller run on Daredevil, inarguably the high water mark for the comic's aesthetic successes. And yet, the primary reader was still mostly children, who are well-known for the inability to appreciate anything of superior quality, because all children are stupid.