After reviewing Marvel’s Star Wars Box Set and celebrating their successful relaunch of Star Wars, the first comic of the 21st Century to cross the million mark in sales, I recalled that the ’77 Star Wars series also crossed the seven figure threshold. That begged the question: “How many other comics became million sellers?”
It turns out that there is no such list compiled. Comichron has a couple of partial lists. Data from the 50s is scarce so I wouldn’t say this list is definitive but it’s the most complete list as of this date.
Here is the list of American Comic Books with paid circulation over 1 million. The early numbers are based on annual circulation numbers reported by the publisher. Mad magazine had well over one million and many Manga routinely go over the million mark, but here, we’re just talking about the floppy American thin comics. Batman and Superman had numbers around 900,000 in the 60s, but didn’t cross the threshold.
Action Comics no. 1, 1938
Marvel Comics no. 1, 1939 (may be just under 1M)
Captain America Comics 1941 (may be just under 1M)
Captain Marvel Adventures, 1941- 1944 (averaged 1M, even averaging 1.3M in 1944 when it was bi-weekly)
Crime Does Not Pay May 1947- September 1948 (cover says 5M and then 6M, but this was the estimate of passing along copies to other readers. Sales were reported to be over 1M when this claim was on the cover. In Oct 1948, the banner read “A Force for Good in the Community” instead.)
Superman averaged over 1M during the 1950s
Three Dimension Comics no.1, St John, oversized, starring Mighty Mouse. First 3-D comic (original concept by Joe Kubert and Leonard Maurer). Two printings with over 1.25M sold.
Walt Disney’s Comics & Stories, 1960 (Dell) averaged 1M (averaged 3M in the mid-50s). Carl Barks included.
Uncle Scrooge, 1960 (Dell) averaged over 1M for the year. Carl Barks.
Star Wars no. 1, 1977 (Marvel)
Batman: Legend of the Dark Knight, 1989
New Mutants 100 (1991) – according to Rob Liefeld. Haven’t found data elsewhere to confirm.
X-Force 1, 1991 (5M) If former entry is correct, Liefeld became first comic artist with two million sellers since Carl Barks.
Spider-Man 1, 1991
X-men 1, 1991 (8.1M)
Spawn 1, 1992 Todd McFarlane surpasses Rob Liefeld with three million sellers.
Batman 500, 1993
Pokemon: The Electric Tale of Pikachu 1 1998 (16 reprintings)
Star Wars no. 1, 2015 (1.1M) Six reprintings, all different color schemes for the Cassaday cover. 76 variants. About 400k help from LootCrate.