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This isn’t really a variant covers post.

§ November 28th, 2022 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, variant covers § 2 Comments

So I apologize…I’ve been getting home lately feeling under the weather and pretty worn out, so “typing out long-form commentaries at the computer deep into the night” hasn’t been a huge priority for me for the last few days. It’s just a bug I’m fighting (NOT COVID, I ASSURE YOU) and I should be back to whatever passes for normal within a couple of days.

In the meantime I’ve been lazily watching a lot of television, with a good dollop of YouTube mixed in. Now, I don’t usually watch comic book-related YouTubery, preferring instead to let the sound of this video drape over my wearied brow.

But I happened to find this one, discussing the history of variant covers:

Unlike my long-running and currently waiting-for-new-content series on this here site, where I jumped all over the place discussing this, that, and the other thing, this video gives more of a chronological context to what was going on.

What surprised me was that I was cited in the course of the video, when the Jab #3 from Adhesive Comics was featured. You know, the one the publisher straight up shot with a real bullet. Specifically, the usage of a panel scan from that post was noted in the video, and a link back to my website was provided in that video’s notes, which was nice. I do feel like that post provided a lot of the info used in that specific segment, beyond the one panel, but eh, Information Wants to Be Free an’ all that. Happy to be a research source.

I should also note not all those Spider-Man #1s were the same price, as the black bagged version was two bucks. Why was it two bucks and not $1.75 like the others? Because they could charge two bucks for it, that’s why. I wrote about this infamous first issue here.

Anyway, it’s a good video and you should watch it. Also, kudos to the fella for pulling a Silver Surfer #50 off his rack and revealing a U.S. 1 underneath.

• • •

A couple of brief responses to comments here:

Scipio asked

“Any idea why the Comic Treadmill old posts are inaccessible?

“All of H and Mag’s work.. .gone?”

I just took a look, and yeah, the last few posts are on the one page, but the post calendar is way out of date on the right there. I feel like that may be a page template error or something, like it hasn’t been updated for current browsers or something. I’ve been in contact with H recently, so I’ll send him another email and ask what’s up.

And then Gregory Burgas said on the topic of the comicsweblogosphere

“I think the ‘Golden Age’ was around 06-11/12 or so. Before that, it was a bit Wild West, but around 06, everything seemed to be humming, but around 11/12, people began to drop off. Of course, those years are fluid, but that seems about right. I’m glad you’re still cooking!”

I’m still standing, as it were. I don’t plan on going anywhere soon, I’ve still got posts about the Death of Superman and Frank Miller’s The Spirit to write.

But yes, the 2006-2012 timeframe sounds pretty close. I started this site in late 2003 (with BBS stuff and LiveJournal before that), and there were a few earlier than me (like the immortal Neilalien). The late, lamented Journalista daily linkblog by Dirk Deppey from the early 2000s on drove a lot of traffic to sites, including mine…and I’ve told Deppey plenty of times that a lot of what I’ve accomplished today, including opening my own shop, stems from him pointing out my dumb site in one of his updates. The exact quote:

“…Definitely one of the better new comics bloggers to emerge so far this year.”

…made me very happy, particularly coming from The Comics Journal, a magazine I’d long read and admired. Hopefully my long decline since hasn’t made him regret his statement.

But I can’t say when I first noticed the dropoff. I know a lot of my online pals with whom I most directly interacted started to cut the blogging habit as the years wore on, and boy, I sure heard “blogging is dead” a whole lot over the last few years. I know the big thing is video, or image-heavy stuff on Instagram and the like, and giant blocks of text like the one you’re currently enduring being somewhat on the outs. But folks are still out there writing and posting on their WordPress installs and their Blogger sites, so The Blog is still hanging in there.

I mean, for your sake, it better…you don’t want to have to look at my face on TikTok or whatever for your comics content.

Anyway, I said I wasn’t doing a long post since I’m feeling yucky, and here I am still trying. I do tend to be a creature of habit, which may be as much a reason as any for my continuing to write here, even when I should be in bed sleeping off my sickness. So, thanks for reading pals, and we’ll all meet back here again in a couple of days.

There’s gold in them there variants.

§ November 4th, 2022 § Filed under variant covers § 13 Comments

So I’m sure most of you recall the 1993 series 1963, an homage by Alan Moore ‘n’ pals to Marvel’s Silver Age, littering bargain boxes everywhere due to being forever uncompleted:

Well, I picked up a collection the other day that contained the following unusual item…a retailer exclusive edition of 1963 #1 with a gold wraparound cover:

And here’s the back, showing the name of the comic shop for which this edition was produced:

Inside the gold cover, we find…the signature of Dave Gibbons, famously the inker for this comic and also apparently the artist of the prequel to Doomsday Clock:

Oh, hello, cameo from Mike’s finger.

And bound between the gold cover and the comic’s regular cover is a numbered Certificate of Authenticity:

As you saw in the last couple of scans, this edition was produced to raise money for cancer research, which is a good cause, of course.

According to this article I found Googling around, this was produced by a UK comic shop for a charity there actually just straight-up called “Cancer Research.” Which, honestly, not to make fun, that reminds me of a Bill Hicks routine in which he was asked to do a commercial in England for “Orange Drink.”

Anyway, there were only 500 of these things printed (and only 125 of the Platinum Edition), so it’s no wonder this is the first one of these that I’ve seen. I presume it’s slightly more common in the UK, but maybe my readers from Over There can let me know. But, somehow, one made its way over to Southern California, and before you ask, it’s already on its way to somewhere else — I work fast, friends — though it was nice to have it make a brief stopover so that I could enjoy it for even this brief period of time.

It’s beyond me.

§ October 17th, 2022 § Filed under variant covers § 4 Comments

So here’s just a quickie “variant cover-age” post today, featuring a comic I came across in a collection recently. It’s a reprint of the first issue of the Batman Beyond mini-series:

…with “FREE” replacing the price, and a Six Flags logo printed in the corner:

Not to be confused with the other version of this promo comic with just the blank box, of course.

Not much to say about it aside from “hey, look, it exists,” an jhd a good reason to return to this series of posts on my site.

I presume this was given away at the amusement parks under the Six Flags banner. This copy I had in my possession still had a coupon flyer inside for other attractions:

Before you ask: already sold and gone. The going price on the item was higher than I expected, though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. If this was a park giveaway, I suspect most copies ended up dumped on the ground, tossed in the trash, or just plain mishandled while carrying it around and transporting it home. As such, not a whole lot of mint copies out there, I think.

I don’t know (and can’t seem to look up anywhere) if this was a specific tie-in to a Batman-themed ride. I mean, the last time I was at the nearest Six Flags attraction, Magic Mountain, it was well before the Six Flags acquisition and the park’s mascots were trolls. I mean, there were plenty of Batman-themed rides, but I don’t think any of them were Beyond-related (aside from being temporarily “skinned,” maybe, like the Nightmare Before Christmas reworkings of Disney’s Haunted Mansion).

Anyway, it’s a neat little item, thought it has me wishing for a comic based on those trolls.

Just a random Groo quote in the middle of this post about a Fantastic Four comic.

§ September 12th, 2022 § Filed under variant covers § 11 Comments

So as huge Fantastic Four fans, as I’m certain most of you are, you’re probably familiar with this cover for issue #299 from 1987, with cover art by John and Sal Bucsema:

Well, imagine my surprise when former boss Ralph turned up this copy from parts unknown:

And here’s the back cover:

As any fool can plainly see (“I can plainly see that!”) at some point during the printing process whatever applies the black ink to the cover went awry, leaving this odd coloring on the covers (though some black ink did make it onto the bottom quarter of the front). I’ve never really looked into the actual printing process involves lots of big and heavy machinery, very fast-moving parts, and probably elves, so I’m not sure what exactly happened to cause this. I mean, “the black plate was jostled” is probably the best you’ll get out of me, and I don’t even know exactly what that means or even if I’m saying it right. Anyway, I need to look into that side of things a little more deeply, is what I’m saying.

Regardless of my printing ignorance, this is a weird example of this particular comic, one that neither Ralph nor I had seen before. I imagine it probably had to survive quality control at the printer, not being spotted as “defective” at the distribution level, somehow getting past the Direct Market retailer and not getting tagged as a damage to be reported, and actually selling to someone who didn’t care that the cover was misprinted. That’s assuming the retailer didn’t pull it out of the stack and mark it “RARE HOT VARIANT” and sell it at a premium from the get-go.

But here it is, existing in my shop (and already spoken for, so no offers please!), an apparently unique item. I’m sure it can’t be the only one who made it out of the printers/etc. alive…but there’s a chance it could be. Isn’t that neat?

I’ve added this entry to my “variants” category as part of the long-running (though recently resting) series of posts I’ve been calling “Variant Cover-Age” because I think I’m clever. And it is, technically, a variant, in that it differs in a significant visual fashion from the other copies of the same book. Sort of like these error variants of the first Venom mini-series. But it’s not a purposeful one, like Marvel sent someone to the printer and had him kick out the giant Black Ink tube at an opportune time.

But it’s neat, I don’t think there’s any confusion on that point. Let’s take a look at some details from this cover, such as the corner box with the creepy Faceless Four:

I’m sure someone at some point did a She-Hulk image that looked like this on purpose…it’s pretty cool, actually:

And introducing Spidey’s new costume! Artists everywhere rejoice over not having to draw those damn webs:

Also, that’s totally a diaper.

So, my ProgRuin Army, if you spot another of these out the wild, or a similarly-afflicted comic, please let me know! I’m sort of interested as to how many just outright obviously-misprinted-like-this-FF comics are out there. …Oh, wait, I just thought of Superboy #0 from the 1990s. I’ll get into that hopefully soon!

Huh, wonder why DC skipped the 30th anniversary of Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn?

§ August 1st, 2022 § Filed under death of superman, variant covers § 11 Comments

[NOTE: I’ll get back to Multiverse Talk shortly, but I wanted to address this topic before the news got too old!]

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in! Yes, it’s time for your regular Death of Superman post, here on your official home of Death of Superman Talk, Progressive Ruin dot edu backslash deedeedeedeathofsupes. And yes, it’ll be a little bit of a Variant Cover-Age post, so I’ll finally be returning to that subject as well.

So, what’s this all about, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Smith from Anytown, USA? It’s about this long the new Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special that DC will be releasing this coming November, featuring the original creative teams doing a number of stories for this 80-page giant.

And will there be variant covers? Well, of course there will be variant covers. Most importantly, there will be a new black-bagged edition, just like the original back in ye olden tymes, complete with armband:

Which brings us to a more earthly concern: cost. DC seems to have been occasionally testing the waters with a $10.99 price point over the last year or two on their squarebound 80-page giant things. Mostly they stick with $9.99, but once in a while a $10.99 one would slip out there.

These Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Specials will run $10.99 a pop. Which may get quite expensive for some folks as some of the variants they’ve shown us so far look pretty neat and I’m sure even at that price point I’ll be selling multiple copies. In fact, I guarantee I’ll be selling multiple copies because I’ve already been getting preorders.

However, the black-bagged edition…hoo boy. Those are…going to cost you a little more. My planned price for these is $15, but based on the wholesale cost, I wouldn’t blame stores for going for $20 or so. And I’m wondering if there will be some measure of scarcity on these, either via retailer reluctance to put so much money into this event, or just straight up production issues leading to allocations. I mean, I don’t expect the latter, but in case I’m wrong about the first part and retailers do go all in on this comic, production could be overwhelmed. I mean, I don’t know, we’ll see I suppose.

Anyway, my guess is that the black-bagged version will be underordered, hit with huge demand outstripping retailer anticipation, and suddenly we’ll be seeing them for sale online at $50 or more.

I also feel like right now is probably not the time to be putting out an $11 comic, but hey, we’ll see if anyone still has money this fall.

But back to the comic itself…when I first heard about the bagged edition, my first thought was that, in a few years, I’ll have people coming into the shop to sell their copies of this anniversary issue, thinking it’s the original, and wondering why I won’t pay Big Money for it. (Not that the original generally trends to be that much, but I go into that here.) The new version does have that anniversary logo on the bottom of the front cover, so that might help a little, maybe.

What I’m most interested in is the continuity nonsense around the Death of Superman event itself as presented in this new comic. After some minor references here in there to the event having happened in Superman’s past in the post-New 52 universe (weird to think that a Superman that supposed had only been around five years was dead a good chunk of that time), it’s nice to have a straight-up, absolute, post-Rebirth, post-whatever the last thing was, confirmation that Superman kicked the bucket in DC’s cobbled-together current continuity. (Oh, and I forgot Death of Superman: The Wake, a digital-first comic which also addressed this storyline…have it, haven’t had a chance to read it so I don’t know what it adds. Will report back.)

One point I’m surprised has actually been addressed by Chief Superman-Deather Dan Jurgens is Australian Luthor, who was the extant version of ol’ Lexie when this story originally went down. (I kinda explain Australian Luthor in this list of Luthors from, egads, 2005). Anyway, Jurgens’ response? Not in the new stories, no space to explain what was up with that “new” Luthor. Also not included: Matrix Supergirl.

Speaking of continuity, I’m going to need to spend some time comparing the original Funeral for a Friend poster to this new rendition Ivan Reis and Danny Miki for a variant cover:

At first glance, the new variant does appear to include many elements of the very snapshot-of-DC-in-the-1990s-ishness original, which is appreciated. I mean, Legion ’92-3 is in there! Agent Liberty! Hawkman in his red outfit! Still can’t find Bloodwynd, though…gotta be in there somewhere.

Another neat variant coming is this Francesco Mattina Doomsday cover, which apparently is die-cut:

and that looks pretty neat.

There’s also going to be a reprint of the original Death of Superman comic, Superman #75, which will include new interviews with the creative team. I haven’t found a cover image for that yet.

Like I noted above, I’m already getting orders placed for these books. My personal guess for the 30th anniversary edition is that the vast majority of requests will be for the black-bagged version, even if some of the other covers (not all of which are readily out there yet) are pretty nice. I personally might want that Funeral cover and the bagged edition. Hey, I’m the guy doing the orders at my shop, so why not. Regardless, I hope this turns out to be more an original Superman #75 sales situation, and not an Adventures of Superman #500 one.

Also, have I mentioned it’s weird that I’m selling the 30th anniversary edition of something that I sold originally? Because it’s definitely an eye-opener.

If the property holders would allow it, Marvel could give us a Star Wars/Miracleman/Aliens/Predator/Planet of the Apes comic.

§ July 13th, 2022 § Filed under miraclemarvelman, variant covers § 8 Comments

So as I may have mentioned once or twice in the past on this here weblog thingie that I enjoy Watchmen ephemera and other inappropriate tie-ins. Not that I think they’re important additions to the Watchmen story, but rather I enjoy observing how people who aren’t Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons and their Watchmen creative pals handle characters and situations that were never really intended for usage outside their original context. Sometimes it’s an ill-advised crossover comic, sometimes it’s a big ol’ box of Heroclix game figurines, sometimes it’s a poster featuring even more merchandise. But whatever it is, I’m invariably interested in it.

Similarly, I have an interest in Marvelman/Miracleman and whatever weird tie-ins exist beyond the original comics themselves. There’s not nearly as much as there is for Watchmen (I mean, there’s the button, and this wacky series) which makes things a little easier on me trying to track down all this nonsense.

One that nearly got past me was Marvel’s one-shot Timeless, which hints at a coming meeting between the Marvel Universe and Miracle/Marvelman. By the time I found out about it, all my copies were sold out, which actually worked out since they eventually released a reprint with a nice Miracleman cover by its current-if-decades-interrupted artist Mark Buckingham.

Which leads me to why I called you all here today. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the initial Moore/Garry Leach revival of the character, pairing ol’ MM with a variety of superheroes on variant covers of their titles. I know, I know, I’ve said in the past that I hate these misleading cover images featuring (sometimes) the stars of the book with other folks who don’t appear inside. But I am weak, and have decided that I need one of each of these. “But Mike,” you ask, “why not just download the images from Marvel or wherever instead of taking home even more comics,” and my reasoned response to you is “SHUT UP, JUST SHUT UP.”

Anyway, here are a few of those images…I’m quite taken the X-Force one:

And this Captain America one is nice and cheery:

This one is quite busy:

And…I don’t know, your guess is as good as mine:

These are just a few of the many MM variants that are heading our way, and at least a couple make me wish we’re getting actual team-up stories inside (“Miracleman and Sam Wilson go out for a nice flight around the city.” “Wolverine finds himself with a tiny Miracleman lodged in the side of his head.”) but I guess that’ll have to wait ’til we get whatever was teased with that Timeless comic.

While finding these images, I did spot an old solicitation for the Miracleman: The Silver Age #3 from early 2016, which was going to feature at long last the new Neil Gaiman/Buckingham chapters of the story they’d started way back when at Eclipse Comics. Well, apparently at the end of the year we’re finally getting those long-promised stories, no, honest, we mean it this time. Back in 2016, one of the covers promised for that #3 was a “Hip Hop variant,” which alas had no art available with the solicit, but there was this Skottie Young cover that I hope gets offered again:

Once Gaiman/Buckingam finish their run, give Young the book. Or if the Miracleman story has come to its conclusion, have Young redraw the entire series. I’d read it, though the redone childbirth issue would be something else.

There are no biopsies of jokes, only autopsies.

§ April 25th, 2022 § Filed under variant covers § 7 Comments

So for whatever reason I was chatting with pal Matt at the shop about John Byrne, wondering what his last published job in comics was (it was Matt who noted those weird Star Trek fumetti books may have been it). Anyway, this necessitated bringing up the ol’ Wikipedia entry on Byrne (which he would have wholeheartedly disapproved of me doing) which included the following tidbit:

“Byrne also facilitated the 1986 relaunch of DC Comics’ Superman franchise, the first issue of which featured comics’ first variant cover.”

Well well well, the eleven people out there who still read this site, and especially are reading the variant cover-age posts, know this isn’t necessarily the case. And I’m not even talking about the whole Whitman thing, or the Lone Ranger recoloring which may or may not exist. Or any of the other minor differences that were more publishing/distribution things than deliberate marketing gimmicks (like changing cover prices, or distributor marks, across print runs).

I’m talking about straight-up simultaneously publishing different covers on the same comic book to either 1) make the consumer choose which cover s/he wanted, or 2) tempt the consumer into buy each version. Byrne’s Man of Steel #1 (discussed here) is certainly the comic that introduced the idea to comic publishers “hold on, we can do that?” But I still contend MAD Magazine #123 from 1968 (with its four different covers) is the first “variant cover” comic book in the sense we mean it today: a single issue specifically published and marketed with alternate covers.

I did argue in that post that the publisher likely didn’t expect anyone to really buy multiple copies, though almost certainly somebody did. The express purpose of the varying serial numbers was to get a laugh from anyone perusing copies on the stands, before even (hopefully) buying the mag. Or from friends comparing copies, maybe. But still, those are variant covers, and a cover blurb does command you to “COLLECT THEM ALL” (technically a joke based on the idea of buying millions of these), so, you know, close enough for horseshoes.

The out, I suppose, is whether or not you consider MAD Magazine a “comic book.” And there are plenty of other workarounds/explanations/excuses, I’m sure…”oh it doesn’t count because that was just a joke, and Man of Steel is SERIOUS BIZ-NESS,” like that. But I guess calling Man of Steel #1 “the first standard-sized comic book to be purposefully published and marketed with more than one cover in order to get you rubes to buy multiple copies” is bit of a mouthful, despite being more accurate a description.

Man, I haven’t yet even touched on some of those Dell Comics from the 1950s/60s that had variant back covers on some of their releases. Again, more to do with distribution/other vagaries of publishing than anything else, but still, them’s is variants!

Okay, I know this post is mostly rehashing older posts in the variant cover-age series. Sorry about that. New content in this line of postings will happen again shortly. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll see you Wednesday.

Trying to cover all bases.

§ April 1st, 2022 § Filed under retailing, variant covers § 2 Comments

Okay, let me catch up on a few more questions from some posts earlier this…er, last month:

Mike Loughlin wants me to cover

“Is there any demand for older, limited variants? For example, do people come in looking for the 1:100 Superman Unchained cover anymore, or does the interest dry up once the book has been released? What about for less popular books (say, a 1:100 variant for an Outsiders series from about 5 years ago)? Do you sell those variants at a discount if they don’t move after a few weeks?”

Usually once the sales window on a new comic closes (generally about a month, when the next issue comes in), if any of the pricier “ratio” variants haven’t moved by then, that’s likely it. I’ll put them in a box on the counter marked “VARIANTS,” and occasionally they’ll sell out of there, but honestly I really should mark them down or something.

But yeah, with rare exceptions the demand drops on these variants almost immediately, regardless of how big or small, how hot or lukewarm, the comic may be. I can see some of them going for, and actually selling, for big money, but every time I try to sell a pricier variant online I get bupkis, so I stopped trying. Though maybe I should throw a few for cheap up on my Hipcomic page. I’ve been having better luck selling comics there than I ever did on eBay.

• • •

Joe Gualtieri speculates

“Wouldn’t some artists with established fanbases like Hughes or Campbell be worth it to get the variant every time out, or close to it?”

Well, sure, if you like those artists. And sometimes they can hold value…but not always. And usually it’s not the one you’ll think it’ll be (though with “investment” apps and a pretty wide echo chamber repeating to all who will listen “this will be hot” we get a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies).

• • •

Matthew Murray crowns me with

“Did you notice any increase in interest among your customers for the King Spawn series after selling those #1s for 99 cents each? Did m/any customers add the title to their pull lists? Did you order more of #2 than you would have otherwise?”

I did bump up orders on #2, and sold through, but as time went on the King Spawn orders normalized to about what I’d normally order on Spawn comics. And by “about” I mean I’m selling a little bit more on all the Spawn comics, though sales on those books had been creeping up a tad of late anyway.

Will get to the rest of questions later. But first, I must enter the Odinsleep. See you folks on Monday, and as always, thanks for reading.

More variant talk? But it’s not even Monday!

§ March 18th, 2022 § Filed under variant covers § 8 Comments

I sorta skipped over the comments to my Amazing Spider-Man #194 variant post, but there’s a lot there and I’m not sure where to start addressing what you folks said. So let me start with Chris V talking about this:

“I guess the biggest question is if it’s worth it to the comic store to order X amount of a certain comic book just so they can get the rare variant edition. I think the value of the rare variant is enough to cover the cost to the retailer.

“There is some trepidation that stores over-ordering in order to get a copy of the rare variant edition could be creating a bubble, but I think a majority of the comic stores that remain are run by people who understand the business.”

It really does depend on the variant in question. And if, of course, said variant is going to see in demand. You never know if the fickle tastes of the speculator market will deem it “worthy,” or even if someone will come along who just likes the cover for what it is to buy it. Seems like it was easier in The Old Days (i.e. the ’90s) to move all variants all the time, what with the higher traffic more stores saw, and more people being willing to pay a premium to take home a variant.

Today, with higher prices on your regular comics, and just great reticence against spending more money on your weekly funnybooks than deemed necessary, it feels like variants are in general a harder sell. Not if, like I said, the speculators and the YouTube channels and the apps and whatnot decide a certain variant Is It, in which case you’ll never have ordered enough. But aside from those unpredictable cases, a variant is just as likely to sit there as not.

The theory is that you’d price up a variant cover to make up for the cost of the extra issues you’d have to order in order to get that variant. Well, more or less like that, there’s no exact formula. But a lot of times nowadays, if I get a 1 in 10 variant, I may just put it out there at cover price. Ratios higher than that do get the higher price tags, but not as high as I would have thrown on them, say, 10 years ago.

Back when Superman Unchained #1 was released, it came with a boatload of variants, and we did have a large number of customers interested in those. As I recall, there were ratio variants going up to 1 in 100 and 1 in 300. Well, I did the math, decided what I’d make on the variants, especially the 1/100 and 1/300 variants, I’d make money if I went in on 300 copies. Given the number of Superman readers we had at the shop, even for a book drawn by Jim Lee, that was a lot for us. Maybe not a drop in the bucket for some of your larger stores in big cities, but for a shop in Ventura, CA, that was more than plenty.

So I ordered those numbers, and once the books we sold those Big Variants right away, then sold nearly all the rest of the more attainable variants, and plenty of the standard comics as well, so we definitely pulled a profit out of this. Definitely more money that we would have made had we just ordered a lower number of the regular issue and eschewed those higher-ratio covers. The only real downside is being stuck with a bunch of extra Superman Unchained #1s in stock. They were all basically paid for, and while I had some long-term plans for them (such as using them as Free Comic Book Day giveaways) I did leave that shop to open my own store the next year, so I never was able to enact any cunning strategies.

Years later, I did a thing with King Spawn #1 at my own shop that, in retrospect, I should have done with that Superman Unchained. I had to order a large number of that King Spawn #1 in order to get the limited variant signed by Todd McFarlane. In this case, I had a customer prepay for the signed comic, and he paid enough to where when the comics arrived, I was able to put out all the regular not-ratio #1s for ninety-nine cents.

Had I kept them at cover price, I might have made more money per piece, but I wouldn’t have moved as many pieces. But the comics had all basically been paid for, so anything I made on them would have been gravy. And by charging under a buck apiece, they’ll eventually all go away and I won’t be stuck with unsold stock. (In fact, I’m on the very last few copies of those #1s right now.)

Another case where I order more copies than I can actually use is BRZRKR, but that’s only because I have a customer who wants all variants to the title. I charge enough for those variants to make up for the extra copies I don’t sell (though not enough to also sell the BRZRKRs for a buck each…there can be an upper limit to what folks are willing to pay) so I’m not losing money. Now I could possibly have a higher margin of profit if I didn’t order all those extra copies, but I’m still making money and I’m making a good customer happy, so that works for me.

But beyond those exceptions…I take it easy on the variants. I don’t buy extra copies of the regular covers to get more the rarities, because if nobody cares, then you’re stuck. It’s easy enough to get stuck with stock even without adding fuel to the fire like this.

I keep thinking about doing one of those “custom retailer covers” for some book or ‘nother, but the buy-in (and number of copies involved) is so high that I haven’t convinced myself to bite the bullet. Again, there’s always the issue of “what if nobody wants that particular variant,” leaving you with unsold stock, though I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who buy things because they’re scarce. But you never know, and it can be a big chance to take, especially for a little ol’ comical book store like me.

I have more to say on comments to that post, but that’ll have to wait for another day. And as a reminder, I may be in low content mode for at least part of next week as I attend more early morning doctor visits. I’m fine, I’m pretty sure, just the appointments all bunched up at around the same time. Thanks for reading, and we’ll talk again soon.

The color out of variants.

§ February 28th, 2022 § Filed under collecting, variant covers § 14 Comments

So the other day, customer Ryan asked me if I’d heard about a particular error (or dare we say, variant?) cover that’s been making the rounds lately. “I have not,” sez I, and he goes on to inform me about this issue of Amazing Spider-Man, #194 from 1979:

Well, okay, not this version specifically (which is a direct-sales edition, as noted by the slash through the UPC code, as opposed to a newsstand edition), but rather this one:

See the difference? Take a closer look:

Apparently there was a problem in the printing process somewhere along the line leaving that miscolored strip on the Marvel Comics banner. At some point early in the process the problem was noticed and fixed (reminding me a little of this), making the majority of the books printed with the solid red bar, but the handful with the error were kept and passed along into distribution, since, you know, it’s such a minor thing. Doesn’t affect the readability of the book at all, who’s gonna care?

Well, cut to the 2020s, where there is a whole new market out there of folks looking for just about any reason to make any comic into a desired collectible. Given the huge emphasis of late on speculation in regards to first appearances of characters (whether or not that character has any real impact, (cough Gold Lantern cough*), one would think it’s enough that this specific issue is the first appearance of longtime Spider-Man frenemy the Black Cat, already skyrocketing in price as-is with eBay auctions titles including things like “Marvel comic KEY” and “Black Cat MCU Sony.”

However, this “error” variant is demanding a little extra chunk of change on the secondary market (“RARE YELLOW ERROR PRINT! MCU SOON!”)…to the tune of about a couple of hundred extra bucks at the high end, if the Hot Comic App is to be believed.

I can’t say if I’d ever come across one of those over the decades. It’s possible I haven’t, if the item is as rare as being ballyhooed. But even if I had, I doubt any of us at the shop would have paid it any mind…or possibly, in those early days of youthful optimism and/or ignorance, even marked the price down in the hopes of countering any initial buyer reluctance toward buying a book with such a sorely-visible misprint. Well, time and the current marketplace has surely corrected that oversight.

Anyway, thought this was an interestingly extreme example of the lengths the back issue market has gone through to make a fancier silk purse out of a plain ol’ silk purse. Mark my words, when the Ka-Zar movie happens, all those copies of Ka-Zar comic with the missing panel I’ve been stockpiling will make me rich, rich I tell you.

* Yes, I know he’s involved in that JLA/Legion of Super-Heroes thing.

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