"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics" underlines the point that people use statistics to say whatever they want. Rob Liefeld this week was celebrating the anniversary of the launch of X-Force #1 and that it sold five million copies. Something he was keen to point out repeatedly, claiming it as the second best selling comic of all time, behind Chris Claremont and Jim Lee's X-Men #1, stating "30 Years Ago Today! X-Force #1 launched. 5 Million copies! The #2 best selling comic book of all time! "
Now of course, there are all sorts of provisos here. Both those comics bumped their numbers with multiple cover variants or trading card variants. The numbers are what comic stores ordered rather than sold. Jamal Igle who was working at Jim Hanley's Universe at the time talked about having thousands of copies in storage. But they have all been sold in the 30 years since, and now sell for a premium. But then Dan Slott replied, saying "#2 best selling comic of all time AT the time. Still an amazing feat! The current #2 best selling comic book of all time is STAR WARS #1 at 1,073,000 copies. Jim Lee's X-MEN #1 is still #1. But in an age of ACTION #1000 & the Obama/ Spider-Man issue, X-FORCE isn't in the Top 10." Which wasn't true at all. When challenged, Dan Slott linked to a Polygon article claiming all this from 2019, which was even less true.
The Polygon article stated "There are decades of comics history where industry number-crunchers only counted how many issues of Superman and Captain America newsstands ordered, leaving historians with only hard sales numbers from 1997 onward. And that's without considering the apples to oranges comparison of America's single issues method of distribution to, say, Japan's doorstop-like weekly anthology magazines. If you want to base everything on confirmed numbers, you've got to throw in quite a few caveats. You wind up with a list more like "The 10 best-selling American single-issue comic books of all time that we have hard data on." But even citing ComicChron's coverage managed to miss out a mention of the very X-Force #1 that Dan Slott was doubting sold so well. When challenged on this, Dan Slott said to take it up with Polygon, not him, before deleting his tweets. Dan Jurgens, writer/artist of the six-million selling Superman #75 also not included, added "I think what surprises me most about all this is people trying to correct us like we're somehow wrong and don't know what we're talking about" with Lies, Damn Lies, Dan Slott, And Rob Liefeld replying "Dan Jurgens & Myself, two best selling creators, are calling BS on Slott's wishful thinking. It's nonsense and will be regarded as such" and then twisting the knife further, "Dan Slott purposely and somewhat deceptively leading folks away from X-Force sales facts is the unexpected twist of the day. Here are some facts to chew on. 5 Million copies" adding "Nonsense is the exact term for what was being pushed yesterday. Truly never imagined I'd encounter anything resembling it…" and "It's an agenda filled piece of fake news intended to undermine considerable sales achievements."
I really don't think it was. If so it would have found a way to include the likes of Dav Pilkey's Dog-Man comics that sell over five million, as well as the work of Raina Telegemeier, or if it were written recently, Shannon Hale's Real Friends series, before you have to even consider manga or BD.
El Sombrero Rojo tweeted "Roy Rogers beats 9 of the 10 averaging over a million per issue" with Augie De Blieck Jr replying "I'll see your Roy Rogers and raise you Walt Disney's Comics and Stories, which peaked at over 3,000,000 a month. And they didn't need Loot Crate". A Star Wars #1 dig there. But here's the thing. No one can take away the sales success of X-Force #1 in 1991 and how it paved the way for Image Comics. Those who try end up looking foolish. But that success doesn't have to be exaggerated either.
Dan Slott later commented on the situation, saying "The beauty of Twitter is you can be in a "feud" or a "cage match" w/ someone over 1 tweet that was a reply to a friend (not even a tweet on your main feed) and a follow up tweet (still not on your main feed) w/ a link explaining where you got your information from. If you want to screencap my off-to-the-side reply to a friend, signal boost it on your feed, and somehow make it a thing, that's not on me. You said the info was wrong. I saw that. I deleted the tweet ages ago. You want to keep making it a thing, that's on you." Rob Liefeld also added "I'm not feuding. I was forced to defend historical data & achievements. Full stop. Please don't frame this any other way." We won't Rob. But we might need to correct a few ourselves along the way.