In today's review of the Kickstarter Larry Hama review, yo referred to GI Joe as one of the most popular books of the 1980s. That isn't just hyperbole or a phrase, we've got the numbers to back it up.
This is an internal Marvel memo from 1985, as shared by then-EiC Jim Shooter. What's at the top of the list, with 43,173 subscriptions? GI Joe. And what's #2, with 28,017? Amazing Spider-Man, the company's flagship title.
X-Men and Star Wars combined didn't have as big a reach as GI Joe did.
Now, do note that these are just the direct mail subscription numbers, not newsstand (which was the main way books were sold back then, before the rise of comicshops). In the '80s, any book that was only selling 100,000 copies a month was in danger of cancellation, so clearly a lot more books were being sold in person than via subscription, but the fact remains that the absolute number one comic people cared about enough about to pre-pay and get delivered to their house every month was Larry Hama's GI Joe.