March comics sales are out… from 35 years ago! March 1985 charts for Capital City Distribution are now on Comichron, our oldest Direct Market charts yet. Secret Wars II #1 launched as one the biggest sellers to date in comic shops. Find the charts here.
The unit sales reported are the actual preorders Capital received. Co-owner John Davis kept index card records with all sales starting in January 1985. He provided them to me in 1996 when the company folded; from them, I’ve harvested data for nearly 24,000 comics and graphic novels.
Note that in early 1985, Capital still only represented a fraction of the sales of publishers that still had a lot of newsstand and subscriber activity. On Amazing Spider-Man #266, its sales are about 8% of the overall. On Direct-only titles like Marvel Fanfare #21, it’s more like 20%.
While Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 nearly outsold Uncanny X-Men #195 (and did beat it in dollar sales), DC sales were still fairly weak at Capital; the Superman titles selling in the 4,000s is no misprint. DC’s discounts through the distributor weren’t yet competitive, but that’d change.
A sign of how much the Direct Market was growing can be seen in orders for Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1, which got postponed from 1985 to 1989 and had its page count reduced 33%. Capital’s orders for the book increased by 66% over 1985’s in the 1989 solicitation!
More charts from yesteryear to come over the next few weeks on Comichron. No need for sales chart withdrawal with dozens of years to catch up on!
Comichron founder John Jackson Miller has tracked the comics industry for more than 25 years, including a decade editing the industry’s retail trade magazine; he is the author of several guides to comics, as well as more than a hundred comic books for various franchises.
He is the author of novels including Star Wars: Kenobi, Star Wars: A New Dawn, Star Trek: Discovery – The Enterprise War, and his upcoming release, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds – The High Country. Read more about them at his fiction site.
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