Sunday, August 9, 2020

Weekend Headlines | August 1991 Comic Book Sales

August saw one of the seminal moments of the comics boom of the early 1990s, as Marvel published the bestselling comic book of all time: X-Men Vol. 2, #1. The comic book had sales across multiple channels of 8,186,500 copies, but the vast majority of it went to Direct Market distributors like Diamond. (Read our special feature for more about the issue's historic sales.)

Marvel's Uncanny X-Men series was already the bestselling series most months in the North American comic book market at that time, but there had not been a regular North American series called simply X-Men since the series took on the "Uncanny" adjective in 1981. There had never been a regular North American series called simply Spider-Man either until Marvel released one in 1990; the sales of its first issue were so astonishing that it made sense for the publisher to try it again with its bestselling title in 1991. X-Men Vol. 2, #1 was the result — but unlike with Spider-Man #1, Marvel made the issue's release into a month-long event by staggering its sales across five different weeks, with a different cover for each one. DC did the same thing with Legends of the Dark Knight #1 in 1989, in part because the printer simply couldn't produce them any faster!

Diamond wasn't indexing its sales charts in this era, so its exact sales are unknown. But Capital City's sales of each edition ranged from a high of 424,800 copies, for the Beast cover, to a low of 332,800 copies for the Magneto cover; the Collector's Edition had sales through Capital of 408,300 copies. Capital's overall sales were 1,874,100 copies, or 23.3% of all direct market sales. Diamond's sales would have been higher than Capital's, and there were at least twelve ordering Direct Market distributors at the time. Still, it was plenty: Diamond founder Steve Geppi wrote in Diamond Dialogue #146 (July 25, 1991) that, "It's scary to think that when all advance reorders have been tabulated, Diamond alone will sell more copies than the entire print run of X-Force #1." Just two months earlier, it had set a modern-era record with what Geppi called sales of 3.6 million copies.

X-Men #1 was printed at Ronald's Printing in Montreal, Canada, significant in that most comics in the previous two decades had come from World Color Press in Sparta, Ill. Geppi noted the fact in Dialogue #147, along with the news that World Color had announced plans to sell itself to its employees.

Top 10 Comic Books From 1991
1 X-Men 1 Cvr E       $3.95                   09/10/91 Marvel
2 X-Men 1 Cvr A       $1.50                   08/13/91 Marvel
3 X-Men 1 Cvr C       $1.50                   08/27/91 Marvel
4 X-Men 1 Cvr B       $1.50                   08/20/91 Marvel
5 X-Men 1 Cvr D       $1.50                   09/03/91 Marvel
6 Uncanny X-Men 281    $1.00              08/15/91 Marvel
7 X-Force 3               $1.00                     09/03/91 Marvel
8 X-Factor 71               $1.00                  08/22/91 Marvel
9 Spider-Man 15       $1.75                      09/03/91 Marvel
10 Infinity Gauntlet 4        $2.50             08/20/91 Marvel