25 years ago: Superman rises from the dead — and sparks the biggest month in comics history

 Find this issue on eBayThis slipped a lot of calendars, but Superman’s rise from the dead began 25 years ago today (that’s when Adventures of Superman #500 apparently left the warehouse; on-sale was both April 14 and April 15, as distributors were moving New Comic Book Day from Thursday to Wednesday).

In observance of the event, I posted the Diamond sales charts for April 1993 — skipping back a year or so to get to them —and worked up some industry-wide estimates for this very important month in the history of the business. April 1993 has long been believed by me to be as the top month in the history of the business in dollar terms — 48 million copies to the Direct Market alone, totaling more than $100 million; the highest estimates for the 1950s wouldn’t get to $100 million in a single month, even adjusted for inflation.

Of course, many of the comics in the chart didn’t come out, and many of the retailers didn’t survive to pay for them. But it was the peak month historically in sales by publishers. Click below to check out my video tour of the estimates.

Regarding the estimates, which are not for Diamond but the industry overall — they’re much rougher than we usually do, in part because in the multi-distributor era there is no single number that can be plugged into a Diamond chart which will work for every title and every publisher overall. Availability and discounts varied too much from distributor to distributor. The estimates will be updated as more research is completed.

The eventual goal is to have separate charts for all distributors that published them, with an overarching chart collating known data each month. Hopefully that’ll be done before the 50th anniversary rolls around!

Finally, and completely coincidentally, Comichron is quoted in a piece about Superman in this Sunday’s New York Times Business section.

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