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


#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.

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.
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.

UnitsComic-book TitleIssuePricePublisher
1DC Versus Marvel4$3.95DC
5Superman The Wedding Album Collector's Ed.0$4.95DC
6Gen 138$2.50Image
8Legends of the Dark Claw1$1.95DC
9Kingdom Come4$4.95DC
12Spawn the Impaler1$2.95Image
19Spawn Wildcats1$2.50Image
22Kingdom Come3$4.95DC
23Super Soldier1$1.95DC
26Gen 1310$2.50Image
28Gen 139$2.50Image
29Kingdom Come1$4.95DC
30Curse of the Spawn1$1.95Image
32Medieval Spawn Witchblade1$2.95Image
33Gen 1311$2.50Image
36DC/Marvel All Access1$2.95DC
37Kingdom Come2$4.95DC
38Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes1$2.50Image
39Medieval Spawn Witchblade2$2.95Image
40Doctor Strangefate1$1.95DC
41Gen 1312$2.50Image
42Spawn Wildcats2$2.50Image
43Medieval Spawn Witchblade3$2.95Image
44Curse of the Spawn Dark Future Part II Blood Lust0$1.95Image
45Gen 1313A$1.30Image
46Spawn the Impaler2$2.95Image
47Gen 1313B$1.30Image
49Curse of the Spawn4$1.95Image
50Gen 1313C$1.30Image
51Curse of the Spawn Dark Future Part III Blood Lust0$1.95Image
52Spawn the Impaler3$2.95Image
53Spawn Wildcats3$2.50Image
54Gen 13 Ordinary Heroes2$2.50Image
55DC/Marvel All Access2$1.95DC
56Deathblow Wolverine1$2.50Image
57Gen 1314$2.50Image
58Spawn Wildcats4$2.50Image
59DC/Marvel All Access3$1.95DC
60Gen 1315$2.50Image
61Gen 13 The Unreal World0$2.95Image
62Gen 1316$2.50Image
64Gen 13 Bootleg1$2.50Image
65Spawn Bible1$1.95Image
68Badrock Wolverine1$4.95Image
69Lady Death The Odyssey1$3.50Chaos
72Backlash Spider-Man1$2.50Image
73Death The Time of Your Life1$2.95DC
74Deathblow Wolverine2$2.50Image
75Grifter Shi1$2.95Image
76Adventures of Superman541$1.95DC
77Backlash Spider-Man2$2.50Image
78Witchblade10$2.50Top Cow
79Action Comics728$1.95DC
80Lady Death The Crucible1$3.50Chaos
81Final Night1$1.95DC
82Superman The Man of Tomorrow4$1.95DC
83Gen 13 Bootleg2$2.50Image
84Pitt10$1.95Full Bleed
85Superman Man of Steel63$1.95DC
86Star Wars Shadows of the Empire1$2.95Dark Horse
87DC/Marvel All Access4$2.95DC
88Prophet Cable1$4.95Image
89Tales of the Witchblade1$2.95Top Cow
90Detective Comics700 Collector's Ed$4.95DC
92Angela Glory Rage of Angels0$2.50Image
93Darkness1$2.50Top Cow
94Final Night2$1.95DC
95Youngblood X-Force0$4.95Image
97Grifter Shi2$2.95Image
98Death The Time of Your Life3$2.95DC
99Final Night3$1.95DC
100Final Night4$1.95DC

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.

UnitsTrade Paperback titlePricePublisher
1Batman Captain America$5.95DC
2Batman: Dark Knight Returns 10th Ann. Slipcase Ed.$100.00DC
3Sandman The Kindly Ones HC$34.95DC
4Batman Deadman HC$24.95DC
5Lady Death The Crucible #1 Lthr. Ltd. Ed.$19.95Chaos
6Lady Death The Odyssey #1 Premium Ed.$19.95Chaos
7Death Dealer #2$6.95Verotik
8Sandman Wake HC$29.95DC
9Star Wars: Bounty Hunters Pop Up$17.95Dark Horse
10Flash Archives Vol. 1$49.95DC

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: