Double your variants, double your fun.

§ July 12th, 2021 § Filed under Uncategorized, variant covers § 11 Comments

So when I was a kid, there were only two comics (that I recall anyway) that I purchased off the stands and were “double-covered” — in other words, an error in the manufacturing process attached a second cover attached over the first. One was this issue of Star Trek:

…and the other, this Batman Special:

And being a Comic Book Collector, I of course removed those second covers and used them as decoration in my bedroom.

Now double-covers are sort of pushing the line a bit in my ongoing variant cover-age, as these aren’t usually created by publishers on purpose as sales incentives (titles like Lobo’s Back and Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book excepted, of course).

However, they are cover-related alterations to your standard comic book that can attract buyer attention. Technically an “error,” but not one that affects the intended usage of a comic (like missing or misordered pages). It’s a value add, in a way, and for collectors of older books it creates the possibility of finding a cover in good shape beneath the extra outer cover that protected it all these years.

I’ve heard tell of comics with three or four covers accidentally affixed to a standard comic book, but I would guess that too many extra covers slipping through to a single book would gum up the printing works. And speaking of which, as time has gone on, this type of error was decreased as technology improved. The modern double-cover is a rarity.

But on older comics…well, they’re still rare, but they’re out there. Amazingly, over the thousands upon thousands upon thousands of older comics I’ve processed for sale at the previous place of employment and at my own store, I can’t honestly remember the last time I found a double-cover. Which may be why it was such a surprise when a couple of days ago I came across an example on this copy of Daisy and Donald #2 from 1973:

Well, that was pretty neat, thought I. Then, on Sunday, my former boss Ralph (who was at the shop helping me get more old comics processed) found this Flash #345 from 1985:

Now hopefully you can see why I had double-covers on the brain of late.

These comics 1) aren’t necessarily valuable or in huge demand in the first place, and 2) aren’t anywhere close to pristine condition and the difference in the shapes of the covers is relatively negligible, so I don’t know if the premium these comics will carry will be of any significance. However, given this crazy comics secondary market we’re existing in right now, I hesitate to say for sure what items such as these will go ultimately go for. Research is necessary, but again, the highly-mercurial nature of demand for collectibles in the presumably-latter-pandemic days may keep me from nailing down any price beyond “somewhat educated guess.”

Also, the double-covered Flash contains a Mark Jewelers ad bound inside:

…which is yet a whole ‘nother thing. As Ralph said about this comic, “you probably have the only double-covered Flash #345 with a Mark Jewelers ad in existence!”

A quick Googling to kick off my research turned up a page on identifying fake double-covered comics, which is not a thing I’d ever considered. But I suppose it’s the sort of thing that probably seems like an easy thing to do (along with reinserting inserts like Mark Jewelers ads or trading cards into comics where they were removed, or never these in the first place). Plus, once again, we’re in a marketplace right now where people are desperate for collectible comics, so this sort of activity has probably only increased.

And yes, I’ve looked at eBay too, and prices for double-covered books don’t seem to be too far out of range with what I’d expect for many of the featured comics. Lots of other variables are involved (whether it’s slabbed and graded, is a “key” issue, is Golden Age or not), so further investigation is needed as to whether or not I’m charging $1,000 for that Daisy and Donald. (That Flash, however, is at least $2,000, easy.)

11 Responses to “Double your variants, double your fun.”

  • Smicha1 says:

    When I was in high school I had a subscription to Batman and Detective and that year I received a Batman annual (Two-Face cover, Chris Spouse interior art if I’m not mistaken) with an insert. It was similar to the MJI but was reminding me to re-up my subscription. Would this be considered a variant nowadays?

  • Eric says:

    Not really relevant to the conversation, but that’s a wild, narrow bridge on the cover of that Star Trek comic.

  • Donald G says:

    My sole double-covered comic as a kid was BRAVE AND THE BOLD #125 in December 1976. While I tried to keep it intact, the outer cover came off by 1979.

  • Rob S. says:

    I remember as a kid I had a double cover of GHOSTS #108. I thought I’d stumbled into a fortune!

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    The printing process definitely must be better now–I don’t believe I’ve ever purchased a double-cover comic off the stands, and I’ve been buying comics since 1982. But I have about 60 comics from the 1950s my stepdad purchased when he was a kid and passed on to me, and two of those are double covers.

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    Double jackets on second-hand books used to be, if not actually common, not exactly rare either. This is because it was once the practice of publishers to put two jackets on a review copy of a book, with the idea that the extra would be used to provide an illustration for the review. Now, here are a couple of dirty little secrets of the book business: 1) most books sent out for review are never reviewed (no journal has enough space to review everything it receives, and much of what it gets is too esoteric or specialized or technical for its audience), so those extra jackets are not used, and 2) book reviewers usually sell most of the books they are sent. So, those double-jacketed copies would usually enter the secondary market after awhile.

    This is much less common now. My guess would be that reviewers are now sent downloads for their Kindles than physical copies.

  • Rob S. says:

    You’re right about the downloads, Turan — at least in the case of movies. I used to do some regular work reviewing movies last decade, and during my tenure there was a big shift from screener DVDs being sent via FedEx to just sending me a password-protected streaming link. (Of course, in-person critics screenings are still available — or are once again available, post-Covid — for major films, but I was reviewing limited-release indie stuff, and that was a lot rarer for them.)

    Selling books to a used bookstore was one thing — but I remember one local movie reviewer in the 90s who would be sent copies of Hollywood bios to mention on his radio show, and he would bring them into the Barnes & Noble I worked at and turn them in as returns! He’d “lost the receipt.” My friend who worked at Movies Unlimited in the same shopping center would see him a lot more, since he was sent a lot more movies than books.

  • John Lancaster says:

    In 1985 I was still buying mostly off the rack at local drug stores and when I went to pull a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #260, it had not one, not two, but THREE covers on it…and the innermost one was upside down. I checked every other copy they had on the rack and all of the others were boring single covers. It’s the copy I still have to this day in the collection. I probably hadn’t looked at or thought about it for a long time until reading this. I always figured if I somehow managed to mess up the cover I could just pull it off and have the better next one on top.

    Back when it was obvious that Marvel and DC had at least some of their comics at the same printer, I ended up with a copy of JSA #87 (the last issue from 2006) that had X-Men interiors. Not a straight issue but what appeared to be out of order pages, back to front, and upside down. Didn’t even know it until several months later when I finally got caught up reading. Ended up having to by a back issue to get a good one to read. Ended up selling the weird one on Ebay a few years ago and got about 20 bucks!

  • Isaac P says:

    I picked up a copy of Wolverine #2 that had a double cover off the spinner rack at a convenience store. Given the legendarily rough treatment comics in that setting were subject to, I’m sure it’s in no shape to command much of a premium.

  • Rich Handley says:

    Weirdly enough, I ended up with a double-cover of that very same Star Trek issue.