I’m too tired to make up a funny X-Files title for this post, submissions welcome.

§ April 8th, 2024 § Filed under publishing § 9 Comments

So Thom H. and Chris V brought up the X-Files comics in my movie adaptation post from a week or so ago. Okay, X-Files comics are technically a TV show adaptation, though it would get a couple of movies eventually.

I’ve written about the X-Files comic before, a whole ten years ago (and it’s weird to read about me processing a collection of old comics for the previous place of employment and not my own store). Anyway, way back then I wrote about how when that first issue (picured above) originally came out in the mid-1990s, the crash still affecting the market, we were caught off-guard by how much demand we had for it.

So much demand, in fact, that a second printing was rushed out, with the added bonus of individual serial numbers appended to the covers:

Serial numbers were cropping up a bit on comics around this time, as you can read here. A print run of 120,000 seems mindboggling today, though I suppose Marvel’s new Ultimate books may be approaching those numbers. The intent of the serial number was to boost the “collectability of the reprint in the collectors market, though they needn’t had bothered given the demand from the unconverted who couldn’t care less about printings and whatnot.

The X-Files comics sold relatively well for its short run, ending with the demise of publisher Topps Comics in 1998, more or less. Now at this point in history, I don’t recall if those comics were nearing their natural end sales wise after the initial faddishness had worn off, or if they were cut down in their prime by the publisher going under, but my guess is that they were still doing okay overall.

There were a number of spin-offs and one-shots and repackagings of the material and whathaveyou which either tells me demand was still high, or they were making up for slumping sales with volume, volume, VOLUME. One of those series, X-Files: Season One:

…gets back to the initial discussion point I was having here about comic book adaptations of other media. As the title suggests, they were adapting the first season’s episodes into funnybook form, so this was a somewhat rare case of a direct comic book adaptations of specific television show episodes, versus just doing movies. There was a lot of material doing new stories based on TV shows, but not so much translating broadcast episodes into comics (though, as mentioned, a couple current/forthcoming Star Wars comics are doing just that).

How did it sell? Again, my memories of the period aren’t as sharp as I’d like, but I feel fairly safe in saying the TV-based comics didn’t sell as well the ones with original stories. They were still picked up by the X-Files diehards,

And how were they? Couldn’t tell you. They were likely competent at worst, and likely visually interesting, given the creative teams. But here they were, Topps Comics generating essentially souvenirs of TV episodes for for the fans. (Though as has been pointed out, maybe some fans first encountered these specific stories this way, perhaps not even realizing they were retellings of TV shows.)

Some additional info you might find interesting regarding these: the Wikipedia entry for “Topps Comics” has an excerpt from an interview with Tony Isabella, talking about the apparently grueling approval process they had to go through for each X-Files comic.

9 Responses to “I’m too tired to make up a funny X-Files title for this post, submissions welcome.”

  • Nicholas says:

    Oh no! I just saw that Roy Thomas wrote some of these – does that mean that he’s retroactively one of the co-creators of the X-Files?

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Mike, you missed a golden opportunity for an Eclipso posting–since there will be an eclipse today…

    Here’s a link to a classic Eclipso page…


  • Allan Hoffman says:

    @Sean Mageean
    Bruce Gordon just keeping his alter-ego’s super-villain costume in his locker like it’s no big thing.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    @ Alan Hoffman

    The simple joys of reading Silver Age comics… especially zany Bob Haney stories…lol…

  • Matthew Murray says:

    I looked at Comichron for X-Files sales numbers and found some:

    January 1997:
    X-Files #26 ($2.95): 63,758 copies. (Higher than Batman #540 ($1.95): 63,221)

    X-Files Season One #7 ($3.95): 45,285 copies.
    And copies of #13 & #14 show up at the bottom of the list selling ~2000 copies like a year after they initially came out.

    March 1998:
    X-Files #39 ($2.95): 33,477 copies

    May 1998:
    X-Files #40 ($2.95): 37,056 copies (two covers)

    June 1998:
    X-Files Official Movie Adaptation ($5.95): 20,025 copies. Ended up being the 6th best selling “graphic novel” of the year.

    X-Files Season One Beyond The Sea ($4.95): 16,892 copies

    September 1998:
    X-Files #41 ($2.95): 32,403 copies (two covers)

  • Snark Shark says:

    “though it would get a couple of movies eventually.”

    I only saw the first, but it was so underwhelming.

    “Oh no! I just saw that Roy Thomas wrote some of these – does that mean that he’s retroactively one of the co-creators of the X-Files?”

    Only Cigarette Smoking Man.

    “Bruce Gordon just keeping his alter-ego’s super-villain costume in his locker ”

    Well, he can’t go around Super-Villaining Naked, he’d get arrested!

  • Thom H. says:

    Those sales numbers are really interesting — thanks for digging them up.

    I was originally kind of shocked by the dip between 1997 and 1998, but it looks like 1998 is when ratings for the show also started to decrease.

    The X-Files had been on TV for 5 years at that point, which is plenty of time for the initial mania for it to wear off. The lackluster critical response to the first movie probably didn’t help.

    I liked the 1998 movie — very classic sci-fi — but I was also getting tired of the show’s unnecessarily complex mythology. I think 1998 is about when I started tuning out, too.

  • Snark Shark says:

    All I remember is I was losing interest when they brought in Agent DOGBERT.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    I remember X-Files as being the first truly hot book I owned that I was ahead of the curve on. And as much as I loved the show, the comic was kind of “meh” and I happily sold those early issues to buy other, better comics.

    It would be really interesting to see an interview with Charlie Adlard about the series, considering how he later became a huge star on Walking Dead.

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