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1987 Comic Book Sales to Comics Shops

Estimated Comics Shipped to North American Comics Shops
Based on Reports from Direct Market Distributors


#1 Most Ordered Issue
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#2 Most Ordered Issue
#2
#3 Most Ordered Issue
#3
#4 Most Ordered Issue
#4
#5 Most Ordered Issue
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In 1987, the Direct Market saw the black-and-white comics boom end in a bust, with many small publishers' titles and lines being canceled and tumult at the distributor level. It appears also that, except for the March launch of the ongoing Punisher series, no title bested Uncanny X-Men in any month of the year —  though there's a catch, having to do with how sales on variant covers were reported.

June 1987 was noteworthy for a story event in comics that would have implications for many years: the wedding of Peter Parker to Mary Jane Watson, which took place in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21. It was a major milestone in the life of the character, and one Marvel would later re-evaluate several times. It was also a media event, as Marvel further advertised the development with a mock wedding ceremony that took place before a New York Mets game in Shea Stadium.

It also was an early moment in the history of variant covers as a sales tactic, as the issue was delayed and resolicited when Marvel decided to publish different newsstand and Direct Market covers. The issue ultimately did not spawn a speculator wave, the way that several later variants did; newsstand sales were still occasionally topping 100,000 copies for the regular Amazing Spider-Man title in 1987, which would have been a significant part of the run in that era.

Diamond Comic Distributors, in the very first sales chart we've been able to locate for that company from June 1987, reported that the Direct Market version (featuring Spider-Man) placed ninth; the newsstand version (featuring Spider-Man) placed 26th.

Diamond was not indexing sales yet, but we know from Marvel's internal records that the Direct Market version of the annual would likely have had total sales of more than 160,000 copies, while Direct Market orders for the newsstand variant would have been over 90,000 copies. With the two covers combined, we'd estimate that the issue likely would have placed first for the month at Diamond both in units and dollars; that's what it did, combined, at rival Capital City Distribution, which was reporting indexed sales by that time. Capital also found much greater parity between the two variants than Diamond did.

It's possible earlier Diamond charts exist, but we haven't found them. Charts for July 1987 and November 1987 have also not been found; we expect the top sellers probably match those at Capital City Distribution.

Neither Capital nor Diamond released bestseller lists for year overall, and picking out a market leader is tougher than in other years because most of the top sellers are just regular issues of a single series. But Capital's reports suggest Uncanny X-Men #228 was its top seller, followed by #227, #226, #225, and #223, which was tied with Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21 once both covers were combined. Uncanny's fortunes appeared to improve slightly through the end of the year as the "Fall of the Mutants" storyline was running.

Watchmen concluded in 1987, but its high cover price made it difficult for it to compete with the top sellers in most months of its release: see its numbers and rankings here.

Of more note is the fact that on Sept. 8, 1987, the Watchmen trade paperback debuted, priced at $14.95, it did not make the Top 100 for units — though Capital City reported it was its #2 dollar product for the month of September, earning about 75% the dollars of Son of the Demon. (Watchmen also had a 1987 bookstore printing that went through Warner Books, which would have added more to its early totals.) The book would, of course, go on to sell millions of copies over the decades.

The Diamond monthly chart links below are live; we have charts for Capital, which will be added in the future. Stay tuned!

—John Jackson Miller


DIAMOND TOP SELLERS BY MONTH

Listed are all the top sellers for each month at Diamond.
Where months are linked, click to see the full Diamond chart for that month.
Distributor charts are regional commodity reports, not measures of a work's total reach. Read our FAQ.
The title links lead to current listings for each item on eBay. You can also find the books at your comics shop.

MonthComic-book TitleIssuePricePublisher
June 1987Uncanny X-Men222 $0.75 Marvel
July 1987Uncanny X-Men223 $0.75 Marvel
August 1987Uncanny X-Men224 $0.75 Marvel
September 1987Uncanny X-Men225 $0.75 Marvel
October 1987Uncanny X-Men226 $0.75 Marvel
November 1987Uncanny X-Men227 $0.75 Marvel
December 1987Uncanny X-Men228 $0.75 Marvel


CAPITAL CITY TOP SELLERS BY MONTH

Listed are all the top sellers for each month at Capital City.
Where months are linked, click to see the full Capital chart for that month.
Est. units are the number of copies preordered just from Capital, Overall totals would be much higher.
Distributor charts are regional commodity reports, not measures of a work's total reach. Read our FAQ.
The title links lead to current listings for each item on eBay. You can also find the books at your comics shop.

MonthComic-book TitleIssuePricePublisherEst. units
January 1987Uncanny X-Men217$0.75Marvel55,400
February 1987Uncanny X-Men218$0.75Marvel52,700
March 1987Punisher1$0.75Marvel62,500
April 1987Uncanny X-Men220$0.75Marvel59,200
May 1987Uncanny X-Men221$0.75Marvel62,900
June 1987 Amazing Spider-Man Annual (covers combined) 21 $1.50Marvel 64,000
July 1987Uncanny X-Men223$0.75Marvel64,000
August 1987Uncanny X-Men224$0.75Marvel62,400
September 1987Uncanny X-Men225$0.75Marvel69,200
October 1987Uncanny X-Men226$0.75Marvel72,800
November 1987Uncanny X-Men227$0.75Marvel81,300
December 1987Uncanny X-Men228$0.75Marvel82,800


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My analyses of preorders from Diamond Comic Distributors for individual months can be found here, where available:


My analyses of preorders from Capital City Distribution for individual months can be found here, when available:

January
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February
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March
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April
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May
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June
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July
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August
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September
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October
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November 1987
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December 1987
December