26 December 2008

Rom sales: April 1984

Here's a quick quiz for you. Which out of the following issues sold the best on the direct sales market in April 1984 (cover dates of August 1984)?
  1. Captain America #296
  2. G. I. Joe #26
  3. Iron Man #185
  4. Incredible Hulk #298
  5. Micronauts #59
  6. Rom #57
If you guessed Rom #57, you're correct! (And if you didn't, all I can say is, "yo, dude, this is the Rom blog.") This bit of information comes from a May 29, 2007 blog post by Marvel editor Tom Brevoort I recently discovered. For that month, Rom, with 73,800 units, outsold all the other titles listed above.

There is, of course, a caveat. The direct sales market was still very young in 1984 and Marvel was still seeing most of it's sales in the traditional, newsstand market. The difference between the two is that newsstands could return unsold comics, while direct sales shops couldn't.

So what sold better than Rom? The usual suspects (X-Men, New Mutants, Spider-man titles, Fantastic Four, etc.) plus Marvel's hot new limited series, Secret Wars (#4). If you want to see the complete list, visit the blog entry linked above. For now, I'm (naturally) going to focus on Rom's numbers.

Rom ranked 16th amongst Marvel's titles, down from 15th the previous month. It was pushed down by Power Pack #1, Alien Legion #2 (a bi-monthly that wasn't published the previous month), and Quest Probe #1 at 15th (78,800 units). Rom saw a remarkable increase in sales of 12.5% from 65,600 the previous month. Mind you, a quick glance through the numbers shows that most titles were seeing increasing sales. This is just another reminder that the direct sales market was new and expanding.

Three issues prior, in Rom #54, Marvel had printed its statement of ownership. It revealed an average sales per issue of 160,741 for the year and 170,588 for the most recent issue. That means direct sales accounted for approximately 35-45% of the title's sales.

So what's the bottom line here? When he was in print, Rom was not the third-tier character comic fans tend to think of him as now. While consistently outselling Dazzler, Doctor Strange and Power Man & Iron Fist may not sound like something to brag about, how about Marvel stalwarts like Iron Man, Captain America, and the Hulk? Not to mention other licensed comics like Micronauts, G. I. Joe, Conan, Star Wars, and Indiana Jones. You might say I'm jumping to a conclusion, but I think the only reason we haven't seen full revivals of him is because of the Parker Brothers license.


  1. Just out of curiosity, why did I sign a petition to have Hasbro give the rights for ROM to Marvel? You said your'e not even sure why Hasbro registered a copyright for ROM. Maybe Hasbro intends to revive the toy, in which case registering the copyright might be reasonable.

  2. Addendum:
    Okay, I probably should have finished reading your blog before asking the question. You gave a pretty good reason at the end of your blog

  3. Lee,

    I sent you an email, but just in case I'll toss the info HERE as well...

    ROM & Dire Wraiths recent comic "appearance"...

    Check out my latest post on the blog


    or direct link:


    You'll be glad you did.