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October 2018 Comic Sales Shoot Up Thanks to Events, Variants & One-Shots

October 2018 had 7,231,202 units in the top 300 comics list, an increase of 533,236 units from last month. This is the highest total for the top 300 comics since December 2016 with 7,385,610 units. The second half of 2016 was a period of unusually strong sales for the top 300 comics with an average of 8,262,025 units compared to the overall average of 6,636,587 units since February 2003 or the average of 6,603,366 since the January 2017.

Marvel Comics placed 3,074,622 units in the top 300 comics and was down 198,773 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 42.52% of the total units for the top 300 comics.

DC Comics placed 2,567,917 units in the top 300 comics and was up 355,771 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 35.51% of the total units for the top 300 comics.

Image Comics placed 884,973 units in the top 300 comics and was up 378,418 units in the top 300 compared to last month and accounted for 12.24% of the total units for the top 300 comics.

Image and DC accounted for most of the gain this month with Marvel offsetting that gain a bit.

IDW Publishing, Dark Horse, Dynamite Entertainment and BOOM! Studios placed a combined 553,575 units in the top 300 comics and accounted for a combined 7.66% of the total units for the top 300 comics.

The premiere publishers accounted for 97.92% of the units in the top 300 comics this month while all of the other publishers with items in the top 300 accounted for 2.08% of the units.

The up-swing of 2,686,480 units from new and increased sales was enough to compensate for the down-swing of -2,153,244 units from lost sales.The magnitude of the up-swing and down-swing illustrate the high degree of churn in the market with titles comic and going on a frequent basis. Reading can't be expected to stay with titles which are constantly ending and being replaced. Likewise, publishers can be expected to continue titles which are declining in sales. Stabilizing sales on titles would allow titles to last longer. Longer lasting titles would have a chance to find, keep and grow an audience. But, as we've seen from this data, stable sales are highly unusual.

The continuing titles which gained sales category added 294,869 units compared to last month.

DC accounted for nearly 85% of the units in this category. Many of these DC items had alternate covers with no requirements for retailers to purchase them. Some of them were parts of crossover storylines.

Stories like "The Witching Hour" and "Drowned Earth" which have bookend one-shots and a handful of titles aren't things I consider to be full blown events like Doomsday Clock, Heroes in Crisis and Infinity Wars to name a few of the current event titles. But these sorts of storylines are becoming more frequent. "Spider-Geddon" and "Extermination" over at Marvel are larger stories than the "The Witching Hour" and "Drowned Earth" at DC. These qualified events which tend to only involve titles within a family of titles act like major events but on a smaller scale. The "Avengers: No Surrender" weekly storyline a little while ago and the upcoming weekly run of Uncanny X-Men also seem to a qualified events. The lack of any clear terminology or definition of these different sorts of stories results in confused expectations about the storylines and the sales of them.

Curse of Brimstone #7 has a high retail ranking which implies it might have been over-shipped to get the 165% increase in sales over the previous issue. Another possibility is that is was heavily discounted but over-shipping seems more likely.

Green Arrow #45 was a Heroes in Crisis tie in and up over 83% as a result.

Nightwing gained 13,266 units over last month. Nightwing #50 was up 15.61% from the previous issue and sold 29,450 units. Nightwing #51 was up another 18.93% and sold 35,026 units. To get this increase in sales, a significant change was made to the character. As long as the sales are up, the change will likely remain in place. When the sales decline, and history tells us that is virtually inevitable, the change will likely be undone in an attempt to boost sales again.

The continuing titles which shipped more issues category added 44,976 units compared to last month. There were four shipping weeks in September and five in October but only two titles, Daredevil and Weapon H released more issues in October than in September.

The continuing titles with reasonably stable sales category removed 2,232 units compared to last month.

The continuing titles which shipped fewer issues category removed 230,926 units compared to last month. Marvel accounted for most of the units in this category.

The continuing titles which lost sales category removed 538,685 units compared to last month.

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