Popular and well-loved mascot character in Japan, thanks in part to being a cute dog who happens to be marketed by Sanrio. Unfortunately, most Japanese seem unaware that the main character of the series is his owner, despite the strip's long-running and faithful translation, which gets printed daily in Japanese newspapers and has numerous compilation books in both English and Japanese...
In Sweden, Peanuts is called Snobben — which is the Swedish name of Snoopy.
Same thing in France, the Netherlands and Hungary where Snoopy is the title of the comic.
Ask anyone in Britain and they will probably make the same distinction, even though the comic is still published under the name Peanuts.
A similar situation happens in South America. The strip goes either by the name Carlitos (literally "Charlie") or... Snoopy.
The Phantom is the most popular costumed hero in the world, but not America.
While Japanese readers in general aren't crazy about American superheroes, there are some prominent exceptions:
Japan really, really loves Batman. Batman had a manga in the 1960s (of which several stories appear in the American book Bat-Manga), and has had several manga in more recent times — Batman: Death Mask, Batman: Child of Dreams, and a story in Batman: Black and White by Katsuhiro Otomo.
It was for that very reason why Spidey's reveal for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 was saved for the 2010 Tokyo Game Show.
The X-Men, As a whole they have been among the more popular American comics franchises in Japan ever since their 90s cartoon began airing there. Now, after four movies and two further cartoons, it's bigger than ever - Madhouse has made a X-Men anime. Psylocke, a fairly minor member of the X-Men, being inordinately popular simply because she was in X-Men: Children of the Atom, Marvel Super Heroes and Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes despite hardly mattering to anyone in the country of her creation.
Shuma-Gorath, a Doctor Strange antagonist who was all but forgotten in America when he appeared in Marvel Super Heroes. Shuma became wildly popular with the Japanese, and was added as DLC to Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for exactly that reason. Venom, on the other hand, while well-known in the US, is insanely popular in Japan, and it's easy to make the connection between his popularity and his appearances in the Capcom vs. Whatever games. Acknowledged in Shuma's ending in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, where he (she? it?) parlays the fame he gained defeating Galactus into a Japanese game show.
Malaysian cartoonists Reggie Lee and Mohammad Nor Khalid (Lat) are popular overseas. For the latter, his most famous work Kampung Boy won many prestigious awards, including the American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults.
Kuso High School by another Malaysian artist Keith is gaining popularity in China. Even the artist himself is surprised by the huge turnout during an autograph-signing session at the 2nd China International Comics Festival.
A famous example are the Disney Comics. Largely faded out of American culture (especially once WDC&S went into the prestige format, and it started to be marketed to collectors rather than children, in general making it really hard to get besides actually subscribing), these continue to be produced in most other areas of the world, especially Europe, where they continue to outsell Super Hero comics. More specifically, relatively obscure characters can get their own books (such as Italy's love for Clarabelle Cow), or familiar ones can get very different interpretations; Mickey as a gritty detective, Donald as a Gentleman Thief (see Paperinik New Adventures), Goofy as a Superman parody, etc. This may be related to their look, which is closer to old Franco-Belgian Comics than to American comics.
A Carl Barks collection can easily sell two million copies in Finland... which has a population of five million. When Carl Barks visited Finland in the 90s, a minister of the that-time government was there to greet him. In Stockholm, Sweden, there is a Carl Barks väg (Carl Barks Road) and in Gothenburg, Sweden, there is a Kalle Ankas väg (Donald Duck Road). Seriously, back when he still made comics, his stories were hugely advertised in the front cover and it seems there's no story he's written that isn't in some compilation. Of which there are many.
In Norway, Donald is so popular he's more recognizable than Mickey.
Same goes for Sweden, where Donald is so popular that the Disney Christmas special From All of Us to All of You or Jiminy Cricket's Christmas (which airs on Christmas Eve and is always the king of Swedish ratings) is simply referred to as Donald Duck (or in some cases Donald Duck and his Friends Wishes Everyone a Merry Christmas). Even though Donald barely appears, and Mickey co-hosts.
In Finland, Donald is the Disney comic character. In fact, the character's weekly magazine once ran an ad campaign with street signs bearing the legend "Have you ever met a person who has never read Donald Duck?", with a panel from a Donald Duck comic where Donald says "Fascinating, how did you come to know them?" And this is not much of an exaggeration, as the magazine sells 320,000 copies and is approximated to be read by over a million. A. Week. Finland having population of 5.3 million.
Donald's alter ego in some Italian comics isn't a gentleman thief but a Batman-like superhero (although his name and appearance are based on a gentlemen thief whose old run-down mansion ends up in the possession of Donald after he receives a contest prize meant for Gladstone by mistake). Eventually it got to the point where about 90 percent of Disney characters had their own superhero alterego. Some of these include Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Fethry Duck (whose identity, the "Red Bat," was an even more explicit parody of the Silver Age Batman), his girlfriend Gloria, Goofy, Gilbert, Huey, Dewey and Louie (all pretending to be the same person), Zé Carioca (whose identity, the "Green Bat," was yet another Batman spoof, in this case of the gritty modern Batman - at least, after a The Dark Knight Returns spoof in his Brazilian comic title; before that, he only has the detective part of Bats down) and his nephews, and of course, Darkwing Duck (who was always this way in the first place). In fact, the first five at one point had their own Justice League.
This concept was used again in 2008, in an Italian story arc called Ultraheroes, which saw even more characters taking a costumed secret identity, along with the already-established ones: John D. Rockerduck and Peg Leg Pete (wearing a Doc Ock-like costume) on the villains' side, Gladstone and Gus Goose with the good guys, the latter as an Iron Man parody.
Donald is popular enough in Malaysia that a rerun collection of Disney shorts is called Donald Duck Presents.
Denmark for a time had a high-quality comic book with Stålanden ("The Steel Duck"), Donald's Batman-esque superheroic alter ego. It was rather popular until the original PKNA comics stopped. And even then, the Jumbo Books (larger and thicker comic books of mostly Donald Duck related comic stories that couldn't fit the normal Donald Duck & Co. comics) still feature his alter ego pretty frequently, albeit with their version of him.
Not just Denmark: That was the local translation of PKNA.
In general, Scandinavia Loves Donald Duck. The Jumbo Books, mentioned above, fleshed out Donald a lot more as a character and even introduced more of his family members to the comics, adding to his large family. Heck, Donald is featured on almost every single cover for the Jumbo Books or Donald & Co. comics, adding to his fanbase in good ol' Scandi'!
Minnie Mouse - At Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea, everyone has Minnie Mouse ears (there are no Mousketeer caps, and the only Mickey headbands feature the Sorcerer's Apprentice hat, while there are infinite variations of Minnie Ears). The most popular character, though, is Duffy, a teddy bear Minnie made for Mickey. Every girl there has one, and there are special outfits you can purchase to dress your bear for the season.
Fethry Duck - Donald's slacker cousin enjoys such popularity in Brazil that he got his own comic for a while, complete with Distaff Counterpart and clone nephews.
Regarding John D. Rockerduck, this character was created by Carl Barks in 1961, and very rarely used in American stories. In France and Italy, Rockerduck has been long since established as the true rival to Scrooge McDuck, and he's popular on his own (he even was the eponymous character of a few stories), while Flintheart Glomgold (of DuckTales fame) is practically unknown and never used. To the point where a celebration of Scrooge's 40th anniversary (1987) in the Italian weekly Mickey Mouse magazine described Glomgold as the character who later evolved into Rockerduck.
José (Zé) Carioca the Brazilian Parrot. You might remember him from Saludos Amigos, or The Three Caballeros, but he hasn't made many appearances since then, and remains a somewhat obscure character in the US. Apparently Disney got this caricature of Brazilian culture just right (and certainly got the marketing of it even righter), because Brazil fell in love with him. He started off in bi-weekly comics as an off-shoot of Donald Duck comics, but now exists in his own monthly comic book series that's still ongoing to this day.
Donald Duck is hugely popular in the Netherlands, both among adults and children. One only has to look at everything he appears in:
He is the big star of a weekly magazine, aptly called "the Donald Duck". This magazine, published since 1952, features all new comics every week, focusing on Donald and his friends and relatives, but containing stories about other characters from the franchise, such as Mickey, Big Bad Wolf and José Carioca, to name a few.
This weekly magazine proved to be so popular that it got a spin-off in the form of a monthly magazine called "Donald Duck Extra". Longer stories that don't fit in the weekly magazine can be published this way.
Even though the weekly magazine doesn't focus on boys in particular, there was still room for a bi-weekly magazine centered around Daisy (called Katrien in Dutch) specifically aimed towards girls.
Every few months a new "Donald Duck Pocket" is released; a small novel-sized comic book which mainly feature translated Italian stories.
And last but not least, 2009 saw the release of a one-time glossy magazine focused on young adults, which pretended that Donald was a real person interested in real life stuff such as lifestyle, fashion, and cars, to name a few. This wasn't regarded as exceptionally weird by the Dutch.
In German-speaking countries, the work of Disney-translator Dr. Erika Fuchs became influential to such an extent that grammatical terms were named after her. During the 1950s, the Swedish Donald Duck translators created several neologisms that have become accepted as a part of the well-educated vernacular, e.g. läskeblask ("soda popsicle"), rosenrasande (a red-faced rage) and skinntorr (approximately "an old, dry and scruffy demeanour").
While Hex never sold particularly well in America, it was a great success in the UK, Spain, Italy, and Japan.
Super Hero comics first appeared in Poland in The Nineties, thanks to the publisher TM-Semic. As a result, TM-Semic's three main initial titles ( Spider-Man, X-Men and The Punisher) have much larger fanbases than other Marvel Comics heroes or teams (the biggest Polish Marvel fansite evolved from a strictly X-Men website, then ran out of material). And because the only three DC titles TM-Semic published were Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern, while later they brought a few Image comics, much more people will recognize Spawn than Wonder Woman (who possibly never even appeared in any TM-Semic comics). However, Vertigo titles and European Comics are still much more popular than the Super Hero genre.
Generally speaking, Archie Comics aren't popular outside North America, but Archie is also a big seller in both India and Mexico. In the Mexican case, it did even get a theater play.
Mort Walker's Beetle Bailey comic strip has been a very popular comic book series in Denmark and Sweden since the late 1950s. This probably has to do with both countries having or having recently abolished conscription, which makes military humor relatable to a large part of the population.
The Transformers comics published by IDW feature street-racing samurai-type Drift, who is often accused of being a Creator's Pet, if not an out-and-out Japan-fanboy Mary Sue. Japanese fans seem to adore the guy, if the amount of fanart from there is of any indication. Of course, they don't actually get IDW's comics in Japan, and Drift's toy itself is considered decent.
The film adaptation of the Tamara Drewe comic strip was a flop in its native UK as well as the US, but managed to be a surprise hit in France.
Most of the newspapers which publish Piranha Club/Ernie comic strip are from Scandinavian countries and Baltic States. The comic itself is written by an American.
Italian comic book Alan Ford, a long-running (since 1969) comedy/satire series about bumbling espionage agents, is fairly known in its home country but not really popular anymore; however, the translations for the former Yugoslav countries became unexpectedly popular, to the point that catchphrases from the comics became part of national slang, rock bands were named after characters, and so on. According to The Other Wiki, various scenes in Emir Kusturica's film Black Cat, White Cat were inspired by the comic.
The Belgian comic strip Suske en Wiske is far more popular in The Netherlands nowadays then in their homecountry. Of course, this is mainly because most of the Belgian references have been replaced by a more standard Dutch tone. The characters all speak standard Dutch now, use the Dutch airlines KLM and spent more time in Dutch locations then in Belgian ones.
This also has something to do with Suske en Wiske being perceived as a quintessentially Flemish strip; although there is a French version, the feature has always done noticeably less well in the Walloon parts of Belgium.
When Marvel Comics created a British imprint in 1972, reprints of Marvel's superhero features did well enough, but British readers were much more receptive, for a longer period of time, to several non-superhero features than their American counterparts:
The Tomb of Dracula and several other monster comics became popular in the early '70s. While their popularity waned in America, sales remained very strong in Britain. The American Tomb of Dracula comic was kept alive and on a monthly schedule largely due to its popularity in Britain.
Marvel's comic book adaptation of Planet of the Apes was hugely popular in Britain, to the point that the British weekly Apes series outpaced the American monthly features. To meet demand, Marvel's British imprint had to repurposeKillraven stories (redrawing the Martian villains to look like apes) as Apeslayer.
In the '80s, some of Marvel's licensed features aimed at younger readers were much more popular in Britain than in America:
Marvel's New York office was unable to produce enough content for the Marvel UK titles of The Transformers, which led to Marvel UK producing additional stories in-house. Many additional stories — so many that, when all was said and done, Marvel UK produced over twice as much Transformers material as the parent company. Indeed, it became a case of Recursive Import, as Marvel UK provided the content for the later issues of the American Transformers title.
Similarly, Marvel's ThunderCats adaptation didn't sell especially well in America, ending after 24 monthly issues. In Britain, ThunderCats was a hit, with 129 weekly or bi-weekly issues. Again, Marvel UK produced the, er, lion's share of the content.
Bongo Comics do great business in Germany; it was even said that Simpsons Comics made the jump to monthly publication before this would have been justified by American sales because the German edition (produced by Italian publisher Panini) was published monthly from the start and was in danger of running out of material.
In John Ostrander's Martian Manhunter, it was revealed that J'onn is the most recognized superhero in the southern hemisphere and in Japan.
In Chris Claremont's first X-Men run, the X-Men were well-received in Japan, despite being hated and feared in their native USA. Little Japanese girls were even shown to idolize Storm.
This carried over into "World Tour" arc in Ultimate X-Men as well, where the team got treated like celebrities while visiting Tokyo.
For whatever reason, Japan is simply shown to be more accepting of mutants than the US. Two of its biggest superheroes, Sunfire and the Silver Samurai, were both known mutants, for instance.
It's not just Japan. During Magneto's trial before an international tribunal in Paris, there were huge pro-mutant demonstrations in that city.
In-United States example: The comics do tend to show San Franciscans as more welcoming to the X-Men and mutants in general than New Yorkers.
In the Brian Michael Bendis graphic novel Jinx, two guys talk about Hasselhoff and why he (and his music) is so popular:
"I don't know, man, I keep hearing he's, like, huge in Germany and shit, as big as Elvis..." "Oh! Well, that's two good ideas the Germans have had: putting people into ovens, and listening to that shit. You'll excuse me if I don't go running out to buy it on their say so."
The Animaniacs comic book featured a story about Dot in a "trading siblings" scenario with a Hello Kitty knockoff. When Dot arrives in Japan, she finds that she's really popular over there.
Vertigo POP! Tokyo features this as an aside; Steve, an American man living in Japan, is invited to a concert. The band headlining the event is an American band, Boring Toaster. Steve's never heard of them, but evidently they're pretty huge in Japan.
It has been established a couple of times that the French love the Fantastic Four. The team's first mission after "Heroes Reborn" involved them traveling to Paris, where crowds greeted them with cheers of "Vive la Fantastique!" When Ben later returned to Paris to get away from the ugliness of the Marvel Civil War, he was met enthusiastically by Les Heroes de Paris, France's national super hero team, and had several adventures with them.