Sales Figures

By | Friday, February 24, 2006 Leave a Comment
I was in a recent discussion on a message board where someone was asking about sales figures now compared to the early 1990s. He was surprised to learn that even the top selling titles today are little more than half some of drek that was being published back then. The conversation reminded me that I did actually do some research on the sales figures of the Fantastic Four comic (and a few related titles) over the years. I thought I'd take a moment to present what I have...

First a little about the numbers themselves. Everything prior to December 1984 is based solely on the circulation numbers presented in the statement of ownership, published yearly. Since they only list yearly averages (and one single issue) that's why most everything is fairly even and flat. From December 1984 until May 1995, I'm using the circulation averages multiplied by the relative increase/decrease in sales from Capital City Distirbutors. That explains the sudden increase in volitility. For about a year, starting in June 1995, Marvel books were distributed by their own distribution company (Heroes World) and I resort to circulation numbers again for that period. Diamond Distributors picked them up at that point, and I'm using their pre-sale numbers until May 2003, at which time sales numbers were reported after the fact and should reflect a more accurate estimation of month-to-month sales.

OK, that out of the way, I've marked specific issue numbers where several of the significant spikes occur. With one three-issue run as an exception, every one of those spikes is an anniversary "let's increase sales with some type of gimmick" type issue of some sort. The exception I mention is the three-issue run just prior to #350 that was drawn by Arthur Adams and featured Ghost Rider, Punisher, Hulk and Spidey. That's why -- despite fans complaints of holo-foil-stamped-die-cut covers -- Marvel kept doing them for so long: they worked! Sales are noticeably higher on gimmicky issues. Heck, you can almost see the correlation back as far as FF #200, and certainly by FF #296 and #300.

Marvel was at the height of it's popularity in the mid-to-late 60s, and their flagship book's sales reflect people's overall interest in Marvel, I think. (Of course, I'd like to see what X-Men and Spider-Man numbers look like by comparison, but I'd wager the trend is very similar.)
Newer Post Older Post Home