Even though we’re living in an age of digital storytelling, comic books are just as popular as ever with some of them becoming the theme for slot machines (click here for some examples) and billions of pounds are spent on these colourful creations every year.
But which comics are the most popular, which ones have sold the most units? The answer may surprise you.
5. Asterix = 370 Million+ Copies
Asterix is published as an annual book and has been printed in this format for around 60 years, albeit with much less frequency in the last couple of decades.
Created by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, Asterix tells the story of a group of Gaul warriors who fight against the Roman Empire circa 50 BCE. The eponymous hero leads the way and is closely followed by his best friend Obelix as the pair face-off against real historical figures like Julius Caesar.
Although it was originally published in French, Asterix has been translated into over 100 different languages and dialects and has a massive following throughout Europe.
4. Spider-Man = 385 Million+ Copies
Spider-Man is a global franchise that turned an awkward photographer into one of the world’s best-loved superheroes. It was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and is the number 1 Marvel comic in terms of sales.
The famous-web slinger first appeared in 1962 in the Amazing Fantasy anthology, before getting his own series a short time later.
3. One Piece = 470 Million+ Copies
One Piece is a Japanese manga series that has been published in close to 100 volumes. The first of these was in 1997, making it the youngest comic on this list.
The massive popularity of this series in its native Japan, along with a huge following in North America, has given One Piece the enviable honour of being the world’s best-selling comic volume.
2. Batman = 480 Million+ Copies
Also known as the Dark Knight, Batman is more of an everyday superhero than his contemporaries. As a result, he is more relatable with readers. He also has a dark back story and lives in a twisted and somewhat dystopian city, making for a much bleaker backdrop and attracting an older audience.
Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics, published by DC Comics in 1939. His inclusion was a big hit with fans, and he was given his own comic a year later, beginning a legend that would culminate in thousands of issues and a number of TV, film, and game adaptations.
Although he’s not number 1 on our list, the success of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, as well as the Arkham series of video games, has made Batman the world’s most profitable superhero franchise.
1. Superman = 600 Million+ Copies
The Man of Steel has dominated the superhero sales rankings since the beginning. He’s the definitive superhero—the strongest and most powerful man in the universe—and kids and adults alike have been following his adventures since 1938.
Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman first appeared in the very first edition of Action Comics, and his inclusion helped to make the issue a huge success. Incidentally, that same comic, which sold for just $0.10 in 1938, once sold for over $3 million and is considered the most valuable comic in the world.
The Last Son of Krypton made 859 appearances in Action Comics and 475 appearances in the “Superman” comics. When these are combined with the many mini-series and cross-over issues, it accounts for thousands of comics and over 600 million sales.