President Obama Stimulates the American Comic Book Economy

Spider-Man Meets Obama

It will probably be some time before the experts and analysts can determine whether President Barack Obama's new stimulus bill will have any positive effect on the country's struggling economy, but the new President has already stimulated sales in at least one storied American industry.

President Obama has proven to be Commander-in-Buzz for the comic book industry, where his highly-publicized 5-page appearance in last month's Amazing Spider-Man #583 stimulated sales of the title to its highest level in nearly 15 years.

The Marvel Comics title was the best-selling comic book of January 2009, according to sales figures released Thursday by Diamond Comics Distributors. Diamond serves as the sole distributor for most of the industry's major publishers – including Marvel and arch-rival DC – to the 'Direct Market', 4000-plus locally owned shops that sell of the bulk of comic books in the U.S.

The issue, which caught the attention of both the mainstream press and the public when it was initially released last month, has now far gone through five printings in an industry where even two printings is unusual, and has likely sold in the mid-300k copies range.

According to analyst John Jackson Miller, who tracks new and historical comic book sales trends on his website, the issue quadrupled or quintupled recent monthly sales of Amazing Spider-Man and is likley Marvel's bestselling issue of Spider-Man since the mid-1990's, when a speculation-fueled "boom" spiked sales across the industry for the several years. The issue will likely also surpass sales of the November 2001 "Black" issue, which depicted Spider-Man and fellow Marvel superheroes and supervillains at Ground Zero immediately following the World Trade Center terrorist attacks.

Sales in the mid-300k range would also make Amazing Spider-Man #583 one of the highest-selling issues in the title's 42-plus year history.

With retail cover price of $3.99, Jackson estimates the issue alone added more than $1 million dollars to the industry's January figures, which typically totals sales between $30 and $40 million dollars a month.

The new President – a self-proclaimed Spider-Man reader as a child – has also appeared in comic book form in issues of Image Comics' The Savage Dragon as well as a biographical comic book, IDW's Presidential Material: Barack Obama, both of which have also gone to multiple printings, adding even more Obama dollars the to industry's coffers.


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