Thanks to comic book movies, funny books are back in vogue. Granted, they don’t sell the same number of units as tickets to the latest Marvel movie, but reports of the industry’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. So what is the best-selling comic book of all time?
Hint: it does not feature Batman or Spider-Man
While the average person would expect Batman #1 or amazing fantasy #15 for being the best-selling numbers of all time, it’s not. The books can fetch a pretty penny in the collector’s market, but they weren’t immediate hits when they first arrived.
It makes sense, though. As with anything else, the Dark Knight and Spider-Man weren’t runaway hits when they debuted. They needed time to build the momentum to become the pop culture juggernauts they are now.
The best-selling comic book of all time is…
The Honor for Best-Selling Comic Book of All Time Goes to Marvel’s x-men #1 by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, released in 1991. According to Comichron, the book has sold 8,186,500 copies. The X-Men weren’t a new name for comic book fans, as it was really just a drop of the title’s “Uncanny” and a reboot of the numbers.
The Weird X-Men had already pulled fantastic numbers for Marvel Comics and seen how Spider Man #1 had done in 1990, the editor decided to try something similar here. However, there was a gimmick attached to it: variant covers that were actually puzzle pieces. Five covers were released, forming a larger picture, which enticed readers to collect all five editions (and helped Marvel Comics sell five times as many issues for a single floppy disk). It worked and started the X-mania of the 90s. X Force #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Rob Liefeld, also released in 1991, ranks second with approximately five million copies sold.
Collectively, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man still rule the roost
Despite the unique success of Marvel’s Mutants, they still can’t hold up to the collective sales of Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man over the years. According to statistics published by Statista in 2015, Superman is still the sales man, with more than 600 million issues sold worldwide. In second place, the Dark Knight proves that punching Gotham City’s criminals is pure cash with 460 million shows. Then, in third, Spider-Man swings in an impressive 360 million issues sold worldwide.
Of course, that’s comic book sales, not manga, because those numbers are simply unbeatable and are crushing the western superhero market like it’s a bug. Still, it’s interesting how the perfect storm of clever marketing and fanfare helped make x-men #1 best-selling comic book of all time.