March 1985 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops

Estimated Comics Preordered by North American Comics Shops
Based on Reports from Capital City Distribution

#1 Most Ordered Issue
#2 Most Ordered Issue
#3 Most Ordered Issue
#4 Most Ordered Issue
#5 Most Ordered Issue

Covers and issue links on this page lead to current eBay listings. This site may be compensated if you make a purchase.

March 1985 saw the release of what could well have been the biggest unit seller of the year: Secret Wars II #1, launching the sequel to 1984's blockbuster Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Warsminiseries. The first seven issues of the nine-issue miniseries topped Capital's monthly charts, with only Marvel's launch of X-Factor later in the year keeping every issue from dominating. Secret Wars II #1 had more than twice the sales of Uncanny X-Men #195. Capital had preorders of 85,000 copies of the launch issue.

Capital City's orders tended to range anywhere between a fifth and a twelfth of Marvel's overall sales in 1985, depending on how much newsstand and subscription attention a comic book got; we can see that for Amazing Spider-Man #266, Capital's orders of 24,300 copies were 19% of Marvel's Direct Market orders for the issue, and 8% of its sales overall. Meanwhile, on a comic book with few subscribers and where newsstand sales were nil, like the direct-only Marvel Fanfare #21, its 13,750 ordered copies were closer to about 20% of its overall sales.

DC's discount through Capital was not as competitive as Marvel's in this era, giving the latter publisher a 2:1 lead in units overall — but it managed some breakthrough releases, including the continuation of its seminal crossover event in Crisis on Infinite Earths #4, which placed third in units and likely second in dollars with 44,450 units preordered; almost what Uncanny X-Men had. Capital's share of DC's overall sales was especially small when it came to titles with wide newsstand distribution and subscription sales: Superman #409 at 93rd place with 4,600 copies preordered is not a misprint; it's only about 4% of the title's overall sales. That would increase dramatically as the newsstand continued to shrink and as DC's discounts through Capital improved.

As the chart below reports preorders, some of the comics ranked did not come out on schedule. Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe #1 had been slated for 1983; orders were taken this month, only to be delayed again for four years. (Hembeck writes about the tumultous path that issue took to the stands here.) When the issue finally released in 1989, its sales through Capital would be 26,500 copies, more than 10,000 copies more than in 1985; that's a reflection of growth in the market as well as Capital's increasing share of the business.

The raw version of the chart below was published in the March 1985 Internal Correspondence; most all of the sales figures added are the actual preorders, as provided by Capital to this writer upon the company's closure in 1996. The few remaining figures were derived by using the known sales to compute the month's order index number.

The dates are the ones Capital said each item was shipping, first according to its March 1995 CCD Orderpak catalog and incorporating all updates from its New Weekly Releases newsletters from March and April. The dates cited are Tuesdays, although Thursday at 12:01 a.m. is when World Color Press in Sparta, Ill. released its comics to distributors. (Milton Griepp of Capital said by the end of the day on Thursday, more than half its customers had usually received their comics.)

Further, in this era, distributor catalog dates for all publishers did not synch up exactly with the calendar month, so Capital's June charts include a week's worth of DC comics from April — and are missing the first week's comics, which appeared in Capital's February charts. This would continue until March 1995, when DC would realign its solicitations with the Direct Market's calendar month (that chart only included three weeks of DC sales as a result). It wasn't uncommon for smaller presses to have little control over their shipping dates; quite a lot of books in the March chart shipped in April.

Capital did not run market shares in this era; we calculated them by drawing upon the list below, but note that does not include all Capital sales (or even all known Capital sales). We'll add known sales of items that didn't make Capital's reported chart at a later date. We have also computed our own dollar sales rankings by multiplying units times cover price — but note that this method does not reflect what retailers actually paid after discount. It's provided as a rough approximation.

—John Jackson Miller

This list includes all items on Capital's chart, plus its actual preorder sales.
Dollar rankings were not provided by Capital in this era. The below are our projections based on unit sales times cover price, a method which misses some items and which doesn't reflect what retailers ultimately paid.
Click to read the methodology for this table's estimates.
Distributor charts are regional commodity reports, not measures of a work's total reach. Read our FAQ.
Title links below lead to current listings for the issues on eBay. As an eBay Partner, this site may be compensated if you make a purchase.

UnitsDollars*Comic-book TitleIssuePriceShippedPublisherUnits
11Secret Wars II1$0.7503/26/85Marvel85,000
25Uncanny X-Men195$0.6503/19/85Marvel45,500
32Crisis on Infinite Earths4$0.7503/12/85DC44,450
46Web of Spider-Man4$0.6503/05/85Marvel36,400
57Cloak & Dagger2$0.6503/05/85Marvel33,700
610Alpha Flight24$0.6503/12/85Marvel31,700
74Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe5$1.0003/26/85DC30,000
814New Mutants29$0.6503/05/85Marvel27,800
916Fantastic Four280$0.6503/26/85Marvel26,000
103New Teen Titans10$1.2503/26/85DC25,100
1119Amazing Spider-Man266$0.6503/12/85Marvel24,300
1317Tales of the Teen Titans55$0.7503/12/85DC21,550
1423Moon Knight Fist of Khonshu2$0.6503/19/85Marvel20,000
1629Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man104$0.6503/26/85Marvel19,300
1739Iron Man196$0.6503/26/85Marvel17,000
1980Marvel Age28$0.3503/19/85Marvel16,300
2041Power Pack12$0.6503/12/85Marvel16,300
2142G.I. Joe A Real American Hero37$0.6503/19/85Marvel16,000
2232Ambush Bug2$0.7504/02/85DC15,850
2312Legion of Substitute Heroes1$1.2503/12/85DC15,250
2513Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe1$1.2503/30/89Marvel15,050
278Black Dragon1$1.5003/19/85Marvel14,100
2915Official Marvel Index to the Amazing Spider-Man4$1.2503/26/85Marvel14,000
309Marvel Fanfare21$1.5003/26/85Marvel13,750
3248Groo the Wanderer5$0.7503/12/85Marvel12,800
3318Legion of Super-Heroes12$1.2503/26/85DC12,800
3461Captain America307$0.6503/12/85Marvel11,800
3553Red Tornado1$0.7503/19/85DC11,550
3855Saga of the Swamp Thing38$0.7503/26/85DC11,350
3957Tales of the Legion325$0.7504/02/85DC10,850
4058Rocket Raccoon3$0.7503/26/85Marvel10,800
4159Dreadstar & Company1$0.7503/05/85Marvel10,600
4369Incredible Hulk309$0.6503/19/85Marvel10,500
4425American Flagg22$1.2503/19/85First10,325
4664Batman & the Outsiders23$0.7503/26/85DC9,750
4731Sword of the Atom Special2$1.2504/09/85DC9,600
4877Conan the Barbarian172$0.6503/19/85Marvel9,400
5034Batman Annual9$1.2503/19/85DC9,200
5226Swords of the Swashbucklers2$1.5003/12/85Marvel8,550
5337Jon Sable Freelance26$1.2503/26/85First9,025
5471Blue Devil14$0.7503/26/85DC8,850
5572Star Trek16$0.7503/19/85DC8,800
5640Infinity Inc.16$1.2504/02/85DC8,650
5782Star Wars97$0.6503/26/85Marvel8,600
5830Doctor Who10$1.5004/02/85Marvel8,300
6278Justice League of America240$0.7503/12/85DC7,800
6311Epic Illustrated30$2.5004/02/85Marvel7,700
6447Conan the King29$1.2503/05/85Marvel7,700
6662Judge Dredd20$1.0003/05/85Eagle7,525
6883Atari Force19$0.7503/12/85DC7,350
6952Omega Men28$1.2503/26/85DC7,150
7084Fury of Firestorm37$0.7503/12/85DC7,100
7286Green Lantern190$0.7503/26/85DC6,850
7395Power Man and Iron Fist118$0.6503/19/85Marvel6,800
74742000 A.D. Monthly4$1.0003/12/85Eagle6,550
7596Peter Porker The Spectacular Spider-Ham2$0.6503/05/85Marvel6,500
7687All-Star Squadron47$0.7504/02/85DC6,500
7789Jemm, Son of Saturn11$0.7503/19/85DC6,400
7897Further Adventures of Indiana Jones30$0.6503/12/85Marvel6,400
8192Detective Comics552$0.7504/02/85DC6,300
8394DC Comics Presents83$0.7503/12/85DC5,900
8438Robotech: The Macross Saga3$1.50Comico7,425
8556Savage Sword of Conan113$1.5003/12/85Marvel5,460
88100Marvel Tales177$0.6503/19/85Marvel5,100
9399Superman 409$0.7503/19/85DC4,600
9470Axel Pressbutton4$1.5003/26/85Eclipse4,525
95101Action Comics569$0.7504/02/85DC4,400
9973Aztec Ace12$1.7504/23/85Eclipse3,750
100103Arak Son of Thunder46$0.7503/19/85DC3,700
101104World's Finest Comics317$0.7504/02/85DC3,700
10346Spirit9$2.95Kitchen Sink3,325
104107Muppet Babies2$0.6503/19/85Marvel3,300
105108Royal Roy2$0.6503/19/85Marvel3,300
107109Planet Terry4$0.6503/05/85Marvel3,200
108110Wally the Wizard4$0.6503/12/85Marvel3,200
109106Wonder Woman326$0.7504/09/85DC3,200
110111Get Along Gang2$0.6503/19/85Marvel3,100
112113Sgt. Rock402$0.7503/26/85DC1,550
113114G.I. Combat278$0.7503/26/85DC1,300
114112Best of DC Digest62$1.5003/12/85DC1,150

Capital did not publish graphic novel charts in this era, and while it did include better-selling graphic novels in its overall unit sales rankings, none made the list during this month.

The links below are not currently live, but we will be adding records for these months in the future.