1996 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops
Estimated Comics Shipped to North American Comics Shops
Based on Combining Reports from Diamond Comic Distributors and
Heroes World Distribution
Dollar Preorders for Diamond and Heroes World's Fused Top 300 Comics
from each and every month from the year
around $300-320 Million
Sales continued their plummet into 1996, as the industry continued to sort out its distribution situation. Many comics shops closed, unable to deal with a reduced audience and more stringent credit requirements. The first quarter provided a bright spot with the Marvel Versus DC and Amalgam crossovers, but momentum did not hold. By fall, Marvel had gone back to Image creators Rob Liefeld and Jim Lee to relaunch four of its core titles — but those "Heroes Reborn" series soon resumed their sales declines. On Dec. 27, Marvel filed for bankruptcy, crushed beneath the burden of debt piled on it during past buyouts.
The tumult on the distribution side launched by Marvel's purchase of Heroes World Distribution in late 1994 continued to roil the industry into the first half of the year, but the final moves in the game were being played. Capital City Distribution closed after being bought out by Diamond on July 26, rounding out a period of consolidation during which both distributors had shed warehouses across the country.
All of the above impacted the ability to produce sales charts in 1996. Diamond was the exclusive comics-shop reseller of DC, Image, Dark Horse, and Acclaim comics for the entire year while Heroes World Distribution was the distributor of Marvel comics. Capital City Distribution sold miscellaneous other publishers until its acquisition by Diamond.
In September 1996, with the market down to two distributors, I began a monthly tracking merging data from Heroes World with Diamond's reported figures. Before then, Heroes World did no reporting at all, and Diamond and Capital City (until its closure) produced their own top-seller lists. Spawn was thus probably not the top-seller in the industry for most months in the first part of the year, but Marvel sales are required before a definite top-seller can be named.
Capital City's charts in 1996 were longer ranked comics by unit sales, but rather by dollar sales — and combined with all its other non-comics products. It's difficult to tell which book sold the most units because the titles were not indexed. But the numbers are small in comparison to the rest of the comics market, with Kitchen Sink often the publisher of the top-selling title. So the Diamond-plus-Heroes-World charts probably reflect most of the business.
The final rankings for all comics and trade paperbacks as reported by Diamond at the end of the year appear below. Diamond reported these issues without indexes allowing actual sales estimates to be calculated. You can find the first-month preorders for these issues in the monthly charts; click one of the months above or use the search tool at the top of the page to find the specific issue. But note that those monthly numbers do not include reorders for the entire year; the rankings below do take the entire year's sales into account.
Again, note that since Diamond wasn't carrying Marvel, the rankings seen below are incomplete. Only its issues from Amalgam appear, as well. DC versus Marvel #4 probably is the best-seller for the year, but figure on several Marvel books outranking Spawn #50. Diamond only released the Top 100, rather than 300 as in the previous year.
Click to skip to the Top Graphic Novels for the year.
—John Jackson Miller
This list includes all items on Diamond's End-of-Year chart.
If you don't see a book, Diamond released no data for it.
Distributor charts are regional commodity reports, not measures of a work's total reach. Read our FAQ.
The links lead to current listings for each item on eBay. You can also find the books at your comics shop.
|1||DC Versus Marvel||4||$3.95||DC|
|5||Superman The Wedding Album Collector's Ed.||0||$4.95||DC|
|8||Legends of the Dark Claw||1||$1.95||DC|
|12||Spawn the Impaler||1||$2.95||Image|
|30||Curse of the Spawn||1||$1.95||Image|
|32||Medieval Spawn Witchblade||1||$2.95||Image|
|36||DC/Marvel All Access||1||$2.95||DC|
|38||Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes||1||$2.50||Image|
|39||Medieval Spawn Witchblade||2||$2.95||Image|
|43||Medieval Spawn Witchblade||3||$2.95||Image|
|44||Curse of the Spawn Dark Future Part II Blood Lust||0||$1.95||Image|
|46||Spawn the Impaler||2||$2.95||Image|
|49||Curse of the Spawn||4||$1.95||Image|
|51||Curse of the Spawn Dark Future Part III Blood Lust||0||$1.95||Image|
|52||Spawn the Impaler||3||$2.95||Image|
|54||Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes||2||$2.50||Image|
|55||DC/Marvel All Access||2||$1.95||DC|
|59||DC/Marvel All Access||3||$1.95||DC|
|61||Gen 13 The Unreal World||0||$2.95||Image|
|64||Gen 13 Bootleg||1||$2.50||Image|
|69||Lady Death The Odyssey||1||$3.50||Chaos|
|73||Death The Time of Your Life||1||$2.95||DC|
|76||Adventures of Superman||541||$1.95||DC|
|80||Lady Death The Crucible||1||$3.50||Chaos|
|82||Superman The Man of Tomorrow||4||$1.95||DC|
|83||Gen 13 Bootleg||2||$2.50||Image|
|85||Superman Man of Steel||63||$1.95||DC|
|86||Star Wars Shadows of the Empire||1||$2.95||Dark Horse|
|87||DC/Marvel All Access||4||$2.95||DC|
|89||Tales of the Witchblade||1||$2.95||Top Cow|
|90||Detective Comics||700 Collector's Ed||$4.95||DC|
|92||Angela Glory Rage of Angels||0||$2.50||Image|
|98||Death The Time of Your Life||3||$2.95||DC|
1996 Graphic Novel Sales to Comics Shops
Estimated Graphic Novels and Trade Paperbacks Shipped to North American Comics Shops Based on Reports from Diamond Comic Distributors
The links lead to title details on Amazon (paid links). You can also find the books at your comics shop.
The Batman/Captain America volume was the top graphic novel of the year by units, but it's likely that the Dark Knight Returns 10th Anniversary slipcase brought in more dollars. Note that no Marvel items appear in the list below because Heroes World released no graphic novel data. Diamond only released the Top 10 this year, after having done the Top 25 the year before.
This list has all items on Diamond's end-of-year chart. If you don't see an item, Diamond did not rank it.
Follow the links to search for each title on Amazon. You can also find the books at your comics shop.
|Units||Trade Paperback title||Price||Publisher|
|1||Batman Captain America||$5.95||DC|
|2||Batman: Dark Knight Returns 10th Ann. Slipcase Ed.||$100.00||DC|
|3||Sandman The Kindly Ones HC||$34.95||DC|
|4||Batman Deadman HC||$24.95||DC|
|5||Lady Death The Crucible #1 Lthr. Ltd. Ed.||$19.95||Chaos|
|6||Lady Death The Odyssey #1 Premium Ed.||$19.95||Chaos|
|7||Death Dealer #2||$6.95||Verotik|
|8||Sandman Wake HC||$29.95||DC|
|9||Star Wars: Bounty Hunters Pop Up||$17.95||Dark Horse|
|10||Flash Archives Vol. 1||$49.95||DC|
My analyses of final orders from Diamond Comic Distributors for individual months can be found here:
My analyses of preorders from Diamond Comic Distributors for individual months can be found here:
My analyses of sales from Diamond Comic Distributors and Heroes World Distribution combined for individual months can be found here: