Larry Hama addendum: GI Joe sales numbers

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.

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2 Responses to Larry Hama addendum: GI Joe sales numbers

  1. HolocronHarris says:

    Here is an article reprinting the top ten direct sales comics of January 1985, showing G.I. Joe #35 making the cut at number ten. Not yet outselling Spider-Man, but being #10 is still high.

    Also, looking at the numbers shown in the postal statements shown in the legal indicia at the front of the books, G.I. Joe was selling 157,920 copies a month in 1983, compared to Spider-Man's 241,762. But by 1986 Spider-Man had raised to 276,064, while G.I. Joe had made it to 331,475. So yes, by one point, G.I. Joe was soundly out-selling Spider-Man.

  2. Ai Muhao says:

    I have to admit that I wasn't a fan of the G.I. Joe comics as a kid... and I suspect part of it is because one of the few Joe comics I ever bought happened to be the one with S.A.W. Viper killing a whole bunch of Joes. So to watch an episode with Quick Kick, then see this comic where his buddies are shot dead, Quick Kick grabs a weapon and shoots a bunch of Cobras dead and then Quick Kick himself is blown up along with some other Joes... it wasn't exactly something that appealed to me.

    Going back to the comics now and accepting them as a separate continuity from the cartoon, on the other hand... yeah, Larry Hama deserves all the praise he gets and more.

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