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75 years of Superman -- and a whole mountain of comics sold

Thursday, April 18, 2013

by John Jackson Miller

Today is being celebrated as the 75th anniversary of Superman's first appearance, so I thought I would update one of the resources on the site. I now have the information from every single circulation form with sales data ever published in the main Superman title; I had been missing a few of the details when I first posted this material four years ago here, but now it is all online. (I've got everything for Action, too — that post is coming soon.)

Sales data begins in Superman in 1960 and runs until DC stopped publishing postal statements in 1987. By that time, the series had transformed into Adventures of Superman; it may appear to be information for two titles, but as far as the Postal Service regulations were concerned, it's all one series. (It later changed back to Superman with #650.)

Superman, we see in the yearly tables, was the #1 title for several years in the 1960s — and probably in 1963-64 as well, years in which DC published Statements with no sales figures.

While the Statement of Ownership period at DC is only a chunk of the title's long history, I include a little bit about estimated sales before 1960 and after 1987. Everything from 1996 to present  can be found in the monthly sales charts here on site; that gives us about 44 years of data.

The main title alone has had total all-time sales in the nine figures, just in North America.

I also have a post from a few years ago getting into how many copies of Action #1 were initially printed and sold.

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Anonymous,  April 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM  

From what a friend told me, Superman sold anywhere between 305,000,000 to 320,000,000 in the US and an estimated 100,000,000(low) to 500,000,000(high) in the rest of the world in addition to the US Sales.

John Jackson Miller April 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM  

That seems possible, but would have to be including ACTION and all the other ancillary titles. Just totaling up the main title alone puts us in the 115 million copy neighborhood. I could easily see it getting to 320 once you added the other books.

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