Spawn enjoyed considerable popularity upon its initial release in the 1990s. Comic book collecting was enjoying a marked upswing at the time, fueled by the speculator boom looking for the next hot book that would jump in value after its release. McFarlane had also already enjoyed superstar status among comic fans with his work on Spider-Man, which had featured McFarlane's name prominently as both writer and artist. McFarlane's subsequent break with Marvel and the formation of Image Comics was seen by many as a sea-change event, changing the very way in which comics were produced. Wizard Magazine, on May 2008, rated "The Launch of Image Comics" as no: 1 in the list of events that rocked the Comic Industry from 1991 to 2008.
The first issue of Spawn was very popular with sales of 1.7 million copies, however, popularity has faded over time. A recent issue, Spawn #174, ranked 99 out of 300 with preorder sales of 22,667. The popularity of the franchise peaked with the 1997 Spawn feature film, which was only a mild commercial success and failed to start a film franchise based on the character.
In October 2008, issue #185, which marked both a new creative direction and Todd McFarlane's return to the book, sold out at the distribution level and warranted a second printing. By issue #191 in May 2009, with estimated sales of 19,803 copies, Spawn had dropped below Top 100 titles sold monthly to comic shops as reported by Diamond Comic Distributors.
As of August 2010 Spawn no longer was ranked in the top 300 sales figures chart reported by Diamond Comic Distributors, issue 200 has been delayed.
On January 12, 2011, issue #200 completely sold out within that single day. This marks the bicentennial issue of the series and features an all-star creative lineup, including Greg Capullo, David Finch, Michael Golden, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Danny Miki, and Ashley Wood all contributing to the anniversary issue. A second printing is set to release on February 9, 2011. Despite its remarkable sales, it has endured terrible reception from fans and reviewers alike