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Too many covers: Variants are an ANTI-selling point for me

toomanycoversbatman13to17I’ve long been frustrated with variant covers. They’re actually a turnoff to me, these days–comics that I would OTHERWISE try, if I know ahead of time or see in-person there are variants, I might avoid them. Case in point: this week’s Justice League of America #1.

There are over 50 covers for this issue–a standard US flag, all 50 states, and I’m not even sure what all else (Guam? Puerto Rico? Washington DC?). I actually picked up the sole remaining copy at the LCS this week with the Ohio cover, and thought about it. Ultimately, I decided: nope. Not giving in, on principle.

And because I’m not buying the first issue, I’m not going to try the second, and so on. One cover, one comic…yeah, I probably would’ve given it a try. But as with other series I’ve passed on a first issue due to variants: someone buying multiple copies will SURELY make up for me not only not buying any of this issue, but make up for my not buying any subsequent issues…right?

I’ve also long recalled with fondness several comics from the 1990s that came with TWO covers. You might still have a 50/50 split–half the printrun has Cover A on top, half the run has Cover B on top. But for someone like me–if I don’t like the top cover, I could pull it off and voila! Cover I want. Or even if I don’t have a problem with the “top” cover, I also HAVE the other covers.

The closest I have seen with this lately is with digital comics. From what I’ve observed, it seems that digital comics (specifically from Comixology) load with the “standard” cover. However, either as the very next page(s) or at the end of the issue, one might be treated to the other cover images associated with that issue.

I particularly noticed this recently with the Batman: Death of the Family arc. Along with each “main” or standard cover, after the issue’s content, each had several more pages–the issue’s variant covers.

I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed this with several Boom! issues and possibly also Valiant. Truly, for me this would be the way to go if I actually had an interest in the covers. (Though I suppose ideally, with the digital one would be able to select which cover to display in their app).

Combine variants with $3.99 and I’m even further put-off from purchasing the issue.

My attitude toward variants extends to actually avoiding certain news or entire sites. I don’t even bother with DC‘s The Source blog anymore, because I got frustrated with the endless posts touting the next VARIANT cover. See so-and-so’s pencils for [Series] #whatever Variant cover. See this artist’s extra-“rare” ratioed variant. Check out the awesome colors on the final version of such-and-such’s variant for whatever series.

Whenever I browse the latest solicitations, as soon as I start seeing all the “This issue will ship with multiple covers” declaration…I just start scanning on past. Maybe the story, or the start of a new arc would be something to get my attention with to try or give another try of the series…you lose me as soon as I see the variants as a “selling point.”

Granted if I held 100% to avoiding anything with variants, I’d have nothing to buy, so I attempt to turn a relatively blind eye to some titles; particularly the Valiant and TMNT books. However, I have specifically requested my pull list be fulfilled with whatever the Standard or “A” cover is; and I’ve started double-checking anyway to make sure that I do NOT wind up with any specifically marked AS a “variant cover.”

I have a pull list for all the Valiant titles…but even there, I don’t want the pullbox variants. I want the cover that’s used with general marketing; I want the cover that is shown in the “next issue” box or page, and I want the cover that is shown on the back of that month’s issues’ covers as a “checklist.”

I also like the consistency that USUALLY comes from sticking to the standard covers. I like my issues to look like they belong together. I don’t want “naked covers” with just an image (how do you tell what issue it is months or years later going back through a collection or trying to ID it in a longbox at the shop?) or fancy logo placement or stuff like that. I’m paying full price for the issue, so don’t “short” me on the colors, or give me an incomplete pencils-only cover or such. That sticks out like a sore thumb! If you want to show off pencils or black and white…make it the back cover or an inside cover or page!

I liked the way Devil’s Due handled early issues of their GI Joe series–you’d get a “bonus image” as the back cover of an issue. Often it seemed this “back cover image” would be SWAPPED for a 2nd print/variant…and I didn’t really have much of an issue with that.

Or back in 1995 (yeah, almost 18 years ago!) I remember some of the Age of Apocalypse 2nd printings having a faded out image with some of the background to draw more attention to the main character(s) or something to that effect–but the back cover was the original cover.

To a certain degree, I also don’t have as much problem with 2nd/3rd/etc. print variants in general; it’s a new edition, a new printing, so…can’t argue too much. I’m even more forgiving when there’s only some color alterations–maybe a white background’s black, or blue, or red; or maybe the cover’s logo changes color–this comes in handy for identifying a different printing at a glance (Superman #75 from 1992 with a green “Superman” logo is the 4th print, for example).

Below: a larger look at 21 covers for only 5 different issues of the current Batman title from DC: captured via screenshots as I read the digital issues.


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