Seeking your input on variant covers.

§ April 16th, 2021 § Filed under question time, variant covers § 37 Comments

Look, I spent a long time putting together a post about the retail impact of variant covers, and it’s not quite coming together and it’s too late to keep polishing it and I know I’m leaving stuff out. SOOOOO…I’m gonna save it for Monday, and do a little consumer polling today.

Thus, my questions to you are:

  • What makes you buy a variant cover?
  • Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions?
  • Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?
  • Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?
  • Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)
  • Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?
  • Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?

Please leave responses in the comments…you don’t have to answer all the questions, and you can be anonymous if you want (if you leave your email in the comment form, I won’t out you, I promise). You can even email me, too (at mike at progressiveruin dot com) if you’re more comfortable with that.

Thanks, pals!

37 Responses to “Seeking your input on variant covers.”

  • MikeyWayne says:

    Variant covers have never meant that much to me. There are two circumstances under which I buy variant covers:
    1. If it’s the Legion of Super-Heroes, I buy all covers, bc the Legion is my collector obsession, and I buy all versions of everything Legion. Because DC has not published Legion very often in the last decade, I don’t do this very often.
    2. If the comic is something I already buy, and the variant cover features some sort of “iconic” (to me) representation of a character which I think will look good propped up next to an action figure or statue or prop or something, then I might buy it. This is rare.
    I am immune to all other variant cover shenanigoats which don’t qualify under the above two scenarios. I will actively avoid covers which feature characters which have no relationship to the contents inside the comic. I don’t mind paying more for whatever variant cover I want, but then I don’t buy very many.
    Cheers, M

  • Russ says:

    I’ll sometimes buy a variant if I really love the artist or the cover itself (or really hate the regular cover).

    I have bought multiple covers on a few occasions if I absolutely have to have them both.

    Turn-offs: the themed variants! If Plastic Man is on the cover of Swamp Thing and Swamp Thing isn’t, Plastic Man should at least show up in the story inside.

    If I want the variant rather than the regular cover, $1 extra won’t make a huge difference. A $10-20 difference absolutely will. I understand the 1/25 variants are profitable for somebody, and people will pay the premium for them, but I’m not a fan.

    I’ve never been tricked by Betty and Veronica alone on the cover of Jughead’s book, because it still says “Jughead” at the top (usually). A casual shopper could easily make that mistake, but I don’t think most of us “lifers” would.

    I can’t think of any times where I’ve bought a new-to-me title just because of the variant cover, but it could happen. My local-until-recently shop had shelves that covered everything below the title on the cover, so less chance of impulse buys that way.

    Variants aren’t inherently evil, but they’re often misguided. Imagine an iconic issue of some title. You don’t want to be stuck with the Milo Manara Spider-Woman’s Butt variant of X-men 137 because the shop sold out of regular covers. The cover should generally reflect what’s inside.

    Summing up, I don’t mind variants, but I don’t need variants to enjoy life (or feel my collection is complete).

  • philfromgermany says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?
    -Same as any other cover, a nice image by a beloved artist or with a favorite character.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions?
    – I have only done it once or twice, Detective 1000 and maybe Marvel Comics 1000.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?
    – No, why would they? Renumbering is the biggest complaint of mine and has been for many, many years..

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?
    – No more than a buck.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)
    – I have not been “tricked” by a comic book cover since before I could read the damn things! Is potential buyers being tricked really a thing, considering the standard title character posing with no connection and relation to what happens inside the book that is so prevalent today!

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?
    – No.

    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?
    – Ask your retailer if you should “invest” in them. ;)

  • mb says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover? It might be the only one available because the regular sold out. Sometimes I get to pick, then it’s whatever is the nicest
    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions? Not really
    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic? No. Whatever floats your boat.
    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)? Well I’ve never had to, but if the only way to get a first print of the issue cuz it’s sold out…maybe.
    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? No
    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)? No

  • will richards says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?

    I’ll choose a variant if it’s by a favourite artist – the upcoming Bat/Cat Special is tricky as I like all 3 artists/covers. I’m also a sucker for a lenticular cover. Will also buy anything by Steranko, despite his politics.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic?

    No

    Regularly, or just on special occasions?

    Just no.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?

    No, although I may consider buying the trade instead so I can see all the covers.

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?

    Yes, I do mind.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)

    No – I normally read the solicitation beforehand.

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?

    Yes, bought a Mars Attacks comic because of the Dredd cover even though he wasn’t in it. That’s the only one though.

    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?

    Like the variety, don’t like paying extra.

  • If I buy a variant cover, it’s either because something about it tickles me or because I need it for my files. I bought all the Marvel cosplay covers a while back for the former reason. I bought all the variant covers for that piece of shit BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS title because I needed them for my Black Lightning files, which will someday be donated to a college, library or some other research facility. I generally pay less than cover price for variant covers because I get them from a retailer who gives me a nice discount. I’ve never bought a variant cover by mistake, though, sometimes, if I’m buying a comic, I’ll be a variant cover if that’s the only cover available. I was originally hostile to the idea of variant covers, but not any more. People have a right to buy or not buy them, and some are very clever. I would like to see the comics include pin-ups of all the variant covers in the back of those comics.

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    I don’t buy variant covers on periodicals. But then, I don’t buy many comics as individual issues anymore either. If I was in a situation where I had to make a choice, I’d go for the “actual” cover, as most of the variants tend towards artists or fads that I’m not interested in. Having said that, I do enjoy seeing Skottie Young variants as bonuses at the end of collections, but I consider those as being much like the bonus pinups back in the day.

    However, on hardbacks like omnibi, I will almost always go for the version that has a cover from the original run, because it just seems more appropriate for the contents.

  • Brian says:

    I buy one cover of a given comic, whichever one I prefer out of the options (could be the normal be normal one, could be a variant, definitely isn’t one that costs extra). If there’s a second one I really like and want to somehow have? Go back to the online solicitations and right-click “Save As” on that cover graphic…

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    If it’s a series I’m already buying, and there is a choice of covers, I’ll choose the one that’s most appealing, if it doesn’t cost more. Evan Dorkin’s covers for the recent Bill & Ted series for example, but not his occasional covers for other series I don’t read. Otherwise, variant covers don’t play any role in what I buy. Then again, I’m not really a consumer of 99.9% of the kinds of comics prone to having variant covers.

  • Luke says:

    I’m a very casual buyer—I usually buy TPBs, and when I get single issues it’s almost always when it’s either an issue I was particularly looking forward to or when I happen to be near a store. So I really only have answers to two of the questions.

    1) In general, I get single issues as a physical artifact, so a variant cover that looks particularly aesthetically interesting on its own will usually get my attention. On the other hand, variant covers that are part of a month-long theme dissociated from the book itself may be an interesting experiment, but they dissuade me from buying them, since they feel like they only have their merit as part of the larger (and much more expensive) context of the entire run. (For instance, Marvel’s hip-hop cover series makes an appealing stand-alone book when the project is collected in its entirety, but I probably wouldn’t have wanted just a few individual covers like that.) Similarly, when variants proliferate around a particular series, like House of X/Powers of X, I find that they incentivize buying the TPB rather than trying to bother with any single issue.

    3) I can definitely think of a few times when variant comics have turned me off from buying an issue—not because they were bad, but because I can definitely think of occasions where they made the regular cover look unappealing by comparison, even though the regular cover was the only one easily available. The big example that’s coming to mind is Action Comics 1000—the Allred cover looked far better to me than the normal version, but since that cover sold out quickly at all the stores near me, I wound up just not buying the issue at all.

  • CalvinPitt says:

    I think the only time I buy variant covers is when I just liked them better than the regular cover. An example recently, the first issue of the Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon mini-series had a regular cover by Philip Tan, and a variant by David Aja. I thought the Aja cover looked a LOT better, so I bought it instead. (I wanted to get the Marcos Martin variant for issue #2 for the same reason, but the store I was at didn’t have it.)

    That said, if the variant had been more expensive, a dollar extra or whatever, I wouldn’t have bought it. I’m not spending more for a comic just because the cover looks a little nicer. I want to read it, not stare at the cover all day.

    I don’t buy more than one copy of a comic, and I don’t buy comics I wasn’t going to otherwise based on a cover (unless the cover gets me to flip through the actual comic and I decide it seems worth reading.) Likewise, I don’t buy comics because the cover has a character on it I like. So the answer to all those questions would be “no.”

    I roll my eyes when Marvel releases a comic with 15 variants, like their recent Eternals series, because it just seems desperate and kind of pitiful.

  • Thom H. says:

    I generally avoid variants because I think of them as over-priced cash grabs that make life harder for my LCS owner. I don’t want to contribute to some scheme where he has to buy 100 of one thing to get 1 of another. I also don’t want to contribute to the speculation economy of “hot collectibles” because I lived through the ’90s and ugh.

    I do enjoy when a series has two regular covers at regular price in a 1:1 ratio like Strange Adventures. Then I can pick the one I like better any given month. It helps that the series has two regular artists, I suppose. And I guess that I’m assuming those are 1:1 and don’t cause my LCS owner any grief when ordering.

    I have bought multiple copies of the same comic with different covers before. They were the two covers of JLA: Classified #1, both by Ed McGuiness and Dexter Vines. I was obsessed with that story when it came out and ran across the other cover in a dollar bin later so why not? It’s not a common practice for me, though.

  • JohnJ says:

    Specific artists are what I look for in variant covers, esp. Neal Adams or Adam Hughes. I ordered the Neal Adams variant on the 80th anniversary Green Arrow book.
    I do remember buying books I don’t usually get when DC had a month with several Darwyn Cooke covers. Only one I spent extra to get was the Amazing Spiderman cover with Stephen Colbert.
    I prefer to buy covers by the same artist doing the interior art. Oh, I also opt for variant photo covers on Betty Page, Elvira and Doctor Who comics.
    I avoid the variants on books where the variant has nothing to do with the interiors. Sorry, Marvel!

  • James G says:

    I am a comic book reader, not collector, so I’m probably the wrong person to answer this poll, BUT I SHALL ANYWAYS!

    I don’t buy many variant covers. I diffidently don’t buy them if they are overpriced or marked up. I don’t bag and slab my comics, so it would be a huge waste of money. If there is a particularly beautiful cover, I would consider it, but my favorite – and actually memorable – covers have been DMZ #4 and Injection #8, which were regular covers.

    But I came to mostly answer the last question, the anything you would like to say.

    I hate the way comic companies have treated variant covers in the business lately. The minimum buy to get a variant cover is basically extortion to keep shops buying more product than they should have to, putting them in tough positions that are unsustainable in an already difficult market and industry. The comic companies and shops used to be concerned with selling comics to the readers TOGETHER. Now, companies are more concerned with offloading more and more product to shops, and not caring whether the shops can sell that product to customers. When that kind of disregard for demand and only concern for shoveling the supply exists, it can not be sustained. Someone gets burned, and it’s usually the shops.

    My hope, as the biggest of the variant cover shovellers (Marvel) moves away from Diamond, is that new distribution will mean less shenanigans in the ordering and extortion for a few different covers. I hope that Penguin RH won’t want to deal with the crap, and go for a more straight-forward approach.

    If it meant an end to “Buy 75 regular comics and sacrifice a goat to get one blank cover that Skottie Young blew his nose on” business practices, I’d happily see every variant cover go away.

    Over to you, Mike.

  • Thom H. says:

    @JohnJ: Those Darwyn Cooke variants were sensational. That’s the closest I’ve ever come to buying a comic strictly for the cover. I held off, though, in the hopes that DC would eventually print an affordable compendium of that entire month of covers. I don’t think they ever did.

  • Rand McNally says:

    When an issue features a character I collect, I will buy all available covers for that particular issue.

    Detective Comics #1000 is killing me.

  • Rob Staeger says:

    Taking your questions in order:

    If I like the art, and it’s the cost of the regular comic, I’ll buy it instead of the regular cover. Also, if I DISlike the art on the regular cover, I’ll buy the variant.

    I usually don’t buy multiple covers. The only occasion I can think of is when I wouldn’t be near my LCS on new comic day, but was in another shop…and there was a comic I wanted to read immediately that was on my pull list. I’d do my best to get two different covers for the book, since I wouldn’t be putting my pull-list copy back on the shelf.
    Variants don’t turn me off. I just ignore them. Too many variants make me think you’re desperate, though.

    I’ll pay a buck more if I like the art significantly better. But no more than that.

    I don’t think I’ve been tricked by a variant in the respect you describe. But on some occasions I’ve picked up a variant thinking it was an issue I didn’t already have. Then again, I’ve done that with identical covers, too. That 51-year-old memory, man.

    I’ve taken a chance on comics I’ve wondered about because of a variant theme. I’m sure I have several DC comics with Darwyn Cooke variants that I might not have bought otherwise – but I didn’t buy all of them. But it was a good enough reason to indulge some curiosity about titles I was on the fence on.

    On the whole, I prefer story-based covers – if the regular cover leans into the actual story inside the book, I’m more inclined to get that over a variant. Because that 51-year-old-memory likes to look at a book a year or so down the line and not have to wonder too hard what’s inside.

  • Robert Coleman says:

    I buy a variant cover based on if I like the image better than the main cover. I almost never buy multiple covers of the same issue; I just pick my favorite. If I’m subscribing to a series that has cover A & B options, I try to figure out which I will like better throughout the run and then I sign up for that cover. If a variant cover costs more (even 1 dollar more), I generally will stick with the regular price main cover. I really don’t care if a comic has variant covers and I’m mainly interested in what’s inside: story & art. But I actually read my comics; I don’t consider them primarily collector’s items.

  • Nicholas says:

    1. What makes you buy a variant cover?

    I don’t buy many variants, but if a series has a different artist doing the main covers with variants by the interior artist (like Mitch Gerads on Mister Miracle or Chris Bachalo on Non-Stop Spider-Man) I will usually get the variant, because it feels like more of a complete package to me? Also, I prefer the “retro” trade dress on Savage Dragon, so I get those.

    2. Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic?

    No.

    3. Regularly, or just on special occasions?

    Never!

    4. Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?

    Not really, I just ignore most of them.

    5. Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?

    I don’t really mind, but I don’t do it often, and I usually wait for the incentives to drop in price later.

    6. Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)

    No.

    7. Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?

    No, but I did think long and hard about getting the Alex Ross X-Force cover on that Marvel book.

    8. Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?

    Not really – in most cases, variants are annoying so I skip them.

  • I agree with the reasons for not buying variants the same way most people have replied. I bought the Artgerm cover for Action#1000 because I do like his work, plus it was Superman and Supergirl both on the cover.

    I ordered it ahead of time, because my LCS owner was asking everyone about Action and Detective#1000 ahead of time, which I thought was cool.

  • Ben says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?

    Until recently, I’d buy (or try to buy) all the variant covers for any Grant Morrison stuff, as those are the only comics I ‘collect’ as well as, y’know, just read.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions?

    Yes, regularly, as it tends to be much cheaper/easier to buy anything up to say a 1:25 when it’s new than it is to find it as a back issue. Certainly not always, but enough of the time that it’s ‘economical’ I guess? Plus it supports the old LCS y’know.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?

    Not if it’s something I collect no, with the proviso that anything over say 5 or so covers for an individual issue is, frankly, ridiculous

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?

    As long as it’s not crazy prices, yeah that’s fine

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)

    No, as my variants habit is extremely narrowly focused

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?

    No

    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?

    I’ve been actively collecting these things now for about… 15 years? And, honestly, in the last year or so – at least in the very narrowly focused area I’m interested in – they’ve just got to a point where it’s absolutely not worth the time or money anymore. Til 2019, the Morrison comic with the most covers was the Harris Vampirella #1 from 1997, with 9 variants. Since 2019 we’ve had The Green Lantern #1 (14 covers), Proctor Valley Road #1 from just a couple of months back (18 covers) and Detective #1027 (~50 covers, for an 8 page strip in an anthology!). It’s waaay too much and, until I spot them in a $1 box at least, I’m done and back to just buying 1 copy of the regular cover. It was good while it lasted but yeah, I’m out.

  • Robcat says:

    I think I have only ever bought 3 variant covers, back before they were reprinted regularly in tpbs. Now if I want a variant, I usually wait to see it reprinted in book form.

    I bought a Grell Legion variant because it was Grell on the Legion. (Love them both!) Paid $10 instead of cover price (30 years ago?) Might have paid more for an Adam Hughs variant of Supergirl on the Legion as well. It was the Legion and it was gorgeous. If I recall correctly (ha!) I may have paid a buck more for the Jim Lee X-men 1 that had all the covers in a fold out.

    I like the choice of covers when I don’t have to pay more. My rule is always buy the cheapest copy I can. I hate to pay more for a comic just because of a cardboard cover, chrome, 3-D, or anything else. Sealed bag is the WORST. Anything that drives up the price also drives me to TPBs.

    Variants have never turned me off from buying a comic, but then again, they do not entice me into buying one either. I don’t buy comics for the cover. (Although I have 3 comics on display just because of the covers. 2 Aparos and 1 Adams Superman/Wonder Woman.)

    Talking ancient history, I was willing to have gaps in my collection if the issue(s) were by creators who were not up to the usual quality of the book, but I would continue to buy if the covers were good, so that made a difference. Now, of course, with renumbering, it just doesn’t matter.

    I guess I wonder, how much more do companies make because of a variant? Looking forward to seeing what you have to say about them. Is it worth the hassle financially?

    I’m rooting for you, Mike. With the price of comics going up, and no longer readily accessible to new readers in grocery stores, I can’t believe you’re still in business. Don’t know how you do it, but best wishes. If variants help, good.

  • What makes you buy a variant cover?

    If there’s one available of an artist I like and it doesn’t cost any more than the non-variant version.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic?

    No

    Regularly, or just on special occasions?

    Not regularly, but I wouldn’t really call them “special occasions” either. It really boils down to the artists on the regular vs variant covers.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?

    Just them existing? No. Would I not buy a variant cover if I preferred the regular cover but couldn’t find it? No.

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?

    I won’t pay more just for a variant cover.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)

    I don’t think so. I know I was confused when I first saw that practice though.

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?

    Nope

    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?

    Ultimately, it’s just wrapping. I’m here for the stories. If it’s got a variant cover and I didn’t have to pay extra for it, fine. If there’s a variant cover by an artist I like, but it costs more, I’ll skip it in a heartbeat. All things being equal, I’ll pick whichever cover I find more aesthetically pleasing, but I really don’t give it much thought.

  • Nat Gertler says:

    When faced with multiple covers at the same price, I buy the one that looks coolest… unless it looks like I’m buying the last one of that, then I get the more common cover so some collector can have the thrill of buying both (and Mike will sell one more.)

    The only time I’ve intentionally bought multiple covers of the same issue in the past decade or two was after someone made a gift of me of an alternate cover on a Peanuts issue, at which point that became something I had and thus had to collect… and even then, I only pick them up when they’re cheap.

    I’ve bought a couple of alt covers recently because of a Peanuts-parody theme, and even then I don’t get all of them.

    The only time I’ve been tricked by an alternate cover is when I’ve bought another copy of an issue I’d already bought, not recognizing it as the same issue.

  • Adam Farrar says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?
    My shop doesn’t do variants but sometimes will if you ask and they’re easy. I only attempt to get variants if all things are equal (availability and price) and one might have more my speed. If for instance there were two Guardians of the Galaxy covers and one of them had Adam Warlock and the other didn’t but Marvel didn’t require any extra hoops to get the Warlock cover, I’d request the Warlock cover.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic?
    No, the last time I did was for Infinite Crisis and when I look at my collection I wonder why I cared.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?
    No, I mostly ignore them so they’re not a factor.

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover?
    Yes, I do mind. I won’t bother.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself?
    No, I tend to be careful when pulling something from the track. Actually, I have bought a comic twice because I was behind in my reading and a reprinted issue had a variant cover.

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme?”
    No, I don’t think so.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?
    * I don’t but many single issues anymore but when I did, I would occasionally pick up a variant by a favorite artist.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions?
    * Nope.

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?
    * No.

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)?
    * Yes, I wouldn’t pay extra for a variant cover.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?)
    * Naw, my retailer has most variants clearly marked as such.

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)?
    * Nope.

    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say?
    * If there is demand for them, then by all means I have no issues. I do wonder if limited variants that artificially increase retailer orders on the regular covers is healthy for the industry.

  • Boosterrific says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover?
    *Characters, artists, price. Probably in that order.

    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic?
    *I have a preference for buying only the standard cover of an issue, though I have been known to buy multiple covers if it strikes my fancy. (For example, I buy all covers with Booster Gold on them, so I bought 2 copies of both GENERATION SHATTERED and FORGED.)

    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic?
    *No. I’m indifferent.

    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover?
    *Yes, I mind. But sometimes I’m willing. I shelled out for that Art Adams DEATH METAL variant with Captain Carrot on it because I had to, and I can live with myself about it.

    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself?
    *Not that comes to mind, but I’m the sort who pays attention to salutations and rarely walks into the store without knowing what it is I want to buy.

    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme”?
    *No.

  • Eric says:

    I don’t know if this is helpful, but, honestly I’m only interested in variant covers when they’re the same price as the regular cover. Than it’s just a matter of which strikes my fancy. The last time I remember at all caring was issue 2 of rhe Busiek/Perez Avengers. I got the not Perez variant.

    Honestly, in the internet age, when every variant cover image is a available to look at on demand, I just don’t understand the desire to shell out big bucks for a limited variant.

  • Eric says:

    Incidentally, I just read vol 1 of the new Excalibur series today and was shocked by all the different variants shown in the back cover gallery. I mean, it’s not even a top tier book and there’s like 5 variants for each issue. In other news, I’m old now.

  • By the way,do you guys remember the lamest attempt at variants, LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT#1? I was working at a shop back then and it was insane. Four exact covers, some kind of Bat doorway or something (I’m not looking it up) and the four covers were just colored different in the background. Teal, orange, blue, and one other. Same crappy paper they used back then, so if a drop of anything hit the cover, it just made it worse.

    But just the colors. No other changes at all. I want to say the orange cover sold out last. Gimmick or not, the next time the store made that much money on a Thursday or Friday with SUPERMAN#75.

    Mike, you still have any copies in your bins?

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    @Wayne Allen Sallee
    The covers were blue (teal), pink, orange and yellow. I got the pink one.

  • […] on variant covers coming next time, informed in part by your great responses to this post from last week. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll be back here in a couple of […]

  • Jason says:

    Generally I buy a variant cover if I like the art/artist and if the price is reasonable (usually under 1.5x cover price).

    I will only buy multiple copies/covers for a very special reason, ie. both covers are great and they’re not expensive, the writer/artist is a friend

    Too many variants definitley have a wiff of desperation around them

    Nah

    I will buy a comic I’m not interested in if the variant cover is particularly great (ex. the JLGL variant for Superman Unchained #1)

  • Ghost says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover? Like the art.
    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions? Nope.
    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic? Absolutely. Reeks of 90s gimmickry and tells me that the publisher thinks the only way to sell more of the comic is to make the people already reading it buy more copies.
    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)? See above. Complete 90s gimmickry and the price gouging is pathetic.
    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?) Nope, but absolutely something that younger comics fans fall for.
    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)? Nope.
    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say? Stop making them.

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    (Missed this the first time, so I’ll make it short.)

    I don’t buy comics regularly anymore, but when I did I would get whatever cover the retailer decided to put in my pullbox. I don’t think there was ever a time I requested a certain cover.

    Never, ever bought a comic more than once just because of a different cover.

    Sadly, I was one of the idiots who bought all five copies of TEAM TITANS #1, with the variant lead stories. That has to be the nadir of variant covers.

  • googum says:

    What makes you buy a variant cover? I’m a Nightcrawler fan, so I’ll cough up for him. Or a really good joke/homage. Or when I fish them out from the cheap bins.
    Do you buy multiple covers for the same comic? Regularly, or just on special occasions? Exceedingly rarely.
    Do variant covers turn you off from buying a comic? Nah.
    Do you mind paying more for a variant cover (whether it’s a buck more for DC’s cardstock covers, or higher premium prices for those incentive ratio — i.e. 1/10, 1/25, etc.– variants)? No, but again, I don’t very often.
    Have you ever been tricked by a variant cover featuring a character or situation not in the comic itself? (Like, grabbing one of those Deadpool anniversary covers thinking Deadpool would be inside?) Possibly, but usually only for quarter-bin finds. “Ooh, Darwyn Cooke cover…(opens book) Aw.”
    Have you bought variants for comics you don’t regularly buy because of their “theme” (like, again, you’re a Deadpool fan and you wanted all those covers)? Yes.
    Anything else about variant covers you’d like to say? I should just let people enjoy things, but man, I was reading IDW’s Transformers reprint book, and it had like six damn variants? Why? Or Dynamite, where I swear they’ve got more variant covers than the press run of the book! And there’s no way that genie is going back in the bottle, which just seems all the worse for you. Specifically you.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    If the variant cover is the same price as the main cover, I’ll buy the better-looking book. If Bill Sienkiewicz does a cover and it’s a comic I’m already going to get, I’ll go with that cover (off-topic: I won’t buy a modern book for its cover, but I’ve bought some 50 cent back issues from the ‘80s because they had beautiful Sienkiewicz covers). The aforementioned Darwyn Cooke covers were the only variants I remember getting without even glancing at the regular cover.

    Conversely, I will avoid buying a cover by an artist whose actions or statements offend me, e.g. any known sexual harasser or c*m*csg*t*r.

    I haven’t been “tricked” by variant covers because I know to check the issue number, but I have a few problems with them:

    1. I understand high-priced variants are an important source of revenue for comic shops, but their existence encourages the speculator market. I’m firmly in the “comics are for reading” camp. Also, I’m disappointed when I’m priced out of the cover I prefer.

    2. What happens when the hot variant is no longer hot? Are retailers stuck with a forgotten cover from, say, three Guardians of the Galaxy relaunches ago that they had to order 50 unsellable copies of the standard cover to get? Can pursuit of variant covers sink a comic book store?

    3. I don’t like DC’s card stock covers that cost an extra dollar. Comics are expensive enough, and it feels like price gauging. Aesthetically speaking, they’re mostly boring, overly dark (visually, not necessarily tonally), and in Marco Djurdjevic’s style. I like Djurdjevic’s art, but a bunch of same-y painted covers don’t work for me.

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