1997 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 $244.39 million

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

In 1997, comics sales to comics shops were mostly handled by two different major distributors: Diamond Comic Distributors, which was the exclusive comics-shop reseller of DC, Image, Dark Horse, and Acclaim comics; and Heroes World Distribution, which was the distributor of Marvel comics. I tracked data from Heroes World and Diamond both, merging their reported figures until April 1997, when Marvel folded Heroes World and took its business to Diamond. 

The year started slowly, with no major driving editorial events in January. On February 7, Marvel announced that it was closing Heroes World and returning distribution to Diamond in April. The final Heroes World month, March, saw DC launch the "blue Superman" editorial event. 

In April, comic-book distribution in the direct market was unified in a single distributor, and Marvel and DC joined for another round of "Amalgam" cross-over issues. May was "Flashback" month at Marvel, a promotion in which negative-numbered issues for its series were published. As of June, Marvel had already announced its plans to end the "Heroes Reborn" project later in the year.

By July, DC had more than 30 titles on the market more than Marvel each month. DC's "Genesis" and the end of "Heroes Reborn" helped the market to its third-best month of the year in August, but the final month of the promotion, September, was disappointing.

Heroes Reborn: The Return helped October rebound, while DC unleashed Tangent Comics, an event that did middling numbers. Third volumes began for Fantastic Four and Captain America in the wake of "Heroes Return" in November, but the market was at a hugely reduced level versus the year before. December was a better than average month for retailers in 1997 — still down, but helped by fifth-week sales including Darkness #11, the year's top title with 11 variant covers, and DC's "New Year's Evil" promotion.

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; the listing does not include Marvel comics from the first quarter, which it wasn't carrying. 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.

Click to skip to the Top Graphic Novels for the year.

—John Jackson Miller

Listed are 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.
The links lead to current listings for each item on eBay. You can also find the books at your comics shop.

UnitsComic-book TitleIssuePricePublisher
2Superman123 Coll Ed.$1.95DC
3Fantastic Four1$2.99Marvel
4Captain America1$2.99Marvel
6Iron Man1$2.99Marvel
7Uncanny X-Men345$1.95Marvel
8Uncanny X-Men350 Prism$3.99Marvel
9Uncanny X-Men346$1.99Marvel
14Uncanny X-Men347$1.99Marvel
16Uncanny X-Men348$1.99Marvel
17Uncanny X-Men349$1.99Marvel
19Uncanny X-Men -1 $1.95Marvel
21Wildcats X-Men1$4.50Image
23 X-Men -1 $1.95Marvel
24Uncanny X-Men351$1.99Marvel
29Uncanny X-Men352$1.99Marvel
30 Heroes Reborn The Return 1$2.50Marvel
33Fantastic Four8$1.95Marvel
36Heroes Reborn The Return2$2.50Marvel
37Heroes Reborn The Return4$2.50Marvel
38Heroes Reborn The Return3$2.50Marvel
39Fantastic Four10$1.99Marvel
40Fantastic Four9$1.95Marvel
43Fantastic Four12$2.99Marvel
44Fantastic Four11$1.99Marvel
48Curse of Spawn9$1.95Image
51JLX Unleashed1$1.95DC
52Iron Lantern1$1.95Marvel
53Exciting X-Patrol1$1.95Marvel
54Challengers of the Fantastic Four1$1.95Marvel
55Magnetic Men Featuring Magneto1$1.95Marvel
57Fantastic Four13$1.99Marvel
58Dark Claw Adventures1$1.95DC
61Spider-Boy Team-Up1$1.95Marvel
62Wolverine -1 $1.95Marvel
63Super Soldier Man of War1$1.95DC
64Curse of Spawn5$1.95Image
66Iron Man8$1.95Marvel
67Iron Man9$1.95Marvel
68Bat Thing1$1.95DC
70Iron Man10$1.95Marvel
71Generation Hex1$1.95DC
73Thorion of the New Asgods1$1.95Marvel
74Iron Man12$2.99Marvel
77Gen 13 Generation1$2.95Image
78Curse of the Spawn6$1.95Image
80Iron Man11$1.99Marvel
82JLA 13$1.95DC
84Captain America8$1.95Marvel
85Iron Man13$1.99Marvel
87Captain America12$2.99Marvel
89Captain America10$1.99Marvel
91Lobo the Duck1$1.95DC
92Captain America9$1.95Marvel
94Generation X28$1.95Marvel
96Wolverine Days of Future Past1$2.50Marvel
97Wildcasts X-Men The Silver Age1$4.50Image
98Wolverine Witchblade Part 5 Devil's Reign0$2.95Image
99Uncanny X-Men97$2.99Marvel

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1997 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

This list includes all items on Diamond's Top Graphic Novel charts. If you don't see a book, Diamond released no data for it.

The links lead to title details on Amazon (paid links). You can also find the books at your comics shop.

Only a Top 10 released by Diamond this year, and note that because the definition of a graphic novel was based partially on price, there's an odd combination of comics and books in the list. Note that no Marvel items from January to March appear in the list below because Heroes World released no graphic novel data.

UnitsTrade Paperback titlePricePublisher
2Wolverine Doombringer$5.99Marvel
3Tales from the Age of Apocalypse Sinister Bloodline$5.99Marvel
4Batman Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #7$3.95DC
5Batman Masque$6.95DC
7Sin City Family Values$10.00Dark Horse
8Batman & Robin Movie Adapt. Coll. Ed.$5.95DC
9Batman & Superman Adventures World's Finest$6.95DC
10Vertigo Winter's Edge$7.95DC

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