November 2018 wasn't a particularly strong month for the Direct Market as it heads for the end of the year. The month had 6,086,063 units in the top 300 comics list, a decrease of 1,145,139 units from the previous month. There were, however, five shipping weeks in October and four in November, which accounts for some of the drop.
December has four shipping weeks, but the final week will have significantly less items than normal due to the holidays. This means December might not be a strongest sales month either. The possible upside is January might benefit from the items delayed from December 26th to January 2nd, which could help prevent the typical January drop in sales. Of course, the lack of a January drop in sales because of a weak December isn't a particularly great thing.
Marvel Comics placed 2,845,455 units in the top 300 comics and was down 229,167 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 46.75% of the total units for the top 300 comics. New titles and the lost of non-series sales practically canceled each other out for Marvel. The combined drop from lost sales on continuing titles, defunct titles, titles releasing fewer issues and suspended titles were greater than the gains from title releasing more issues, returning titles and titles which gained sales for Marvel.
DC Comics placed 1,957,744 units in the top 300 comics and was down 610,173 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 32.17% of the total units for the top 300 comics. Lost sales on continuing titles and less sales on non-series items caused most of the drop in sales for DC with defunct titles also being a factor. New titles offset the losses with returning titles helping slightly.
Image Comics placed 472,319 units in the top 300 comics and was down 412,654 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 7.76% of the total units for the top 300 comics.
The premiere publishers accounted for 96.26% of the units in the top 300 comics this month while all of the other publishers with items in the top 300 accounted for 3.74% of the units.
The up-swing of 2,046,174 units from new and increased sales was enough to compensate for the down-swing of -3,191,313 units from lost sales. The combined up-swing and down-swing is a range of 5,237,487 units in a month which had 6,086,063. The number of units changing from month to month within the top 300 comics was around 86% of the total for the top 300 comics for the month.
To put this into perspective, without the gains from this month the total could have been in the ballpark of 4,039,889 which is less than the low point on 4,402,738 units from January 2011. Without the losses this month, the total for the top 300 comic could have been in the ballpark of 9,277,376 units which would be just shy of the record 9,355,046 units from August 2016. Obviously, these are really rough estimates based on taking the total of the top 300 and factoring out the up-swing or down-swing but not factoring how items lower on the list could have impacted an adjusted total for the top 300 comics. With this level of sales instability from month to month we could be just a month or two away from record high or low sales.
The continuing titles which gained sales category added 93,616 units compared to last month. Marvel accounted for 72.63% of this category with Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers and Daredevil being the titles with top three gains in sales from month to month.
The continuing titles which shipped more issues category added 173,868 units compared to last month. Marvel monopolized this categories with all of the titles releasing two issues in November versus a single issue per title in October.
The continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category removed 1,910 units compared to last month.
The continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category removed 125,458 units compared to last month. Marvel dominated this category accounting for 72.83% of it. All of these titles released two issues during the five weeks of October and only a single issue during the four weeks of November.
The continuing titles which lost sales category removed 808,716 units compared to last month. DC accounted for 48.05% of the units in this category across 46 titles. DC had the foil covers last month which bumped on sales on those issues. Marvel accounted for 37.61% of the units across 34 titles. The most notable drops in sales were on Spider-Geddon and Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider.