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Some Negativity in the Form of Questions


I don’t like being negative, nor causing random (negative) ripples or fights on the internet; I don’t like flame wars, I don’t like raining on others’ parade, etc. (That’s part of why I have this blog–I can simply put MY thoughts “out there,” but I’m not inserting them into discussion forums or other places in some consciously disruptive fashion). But for now I want to vent a bit, with several questions that have arisen and that I’ve wound up with photos to illustrate said questions (in the course of prepping photos for other blog posts).

Who in their right mind is going to buy multiple copies of a reference book like The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide?!?

overstreet_dual_covers

I mean, I am long used to their having multiple covers, but those usually seem (to me, in my memory) to be singular covers, just different artists and even focus on different publishers in subject-matter of the cover. Pick your favorite, so you’re not locked into a cover you despise, for a book you may be utilizing frequently for a year or more. That I can be ok with.

What I’m not ok with is something like this, where on a freaking REFERENCE BOOK they’re taking a singular image and splitting it in half. Not even doing a wrap-around cover type thing, or some insert, or whatever. If you want the WHOLE of the SINGLE IMAGE, you have to have TWO COPIES of the exact-same, not-supposed-to-be-“collectible”-itself book.

And of course, I’m pretty sure they already do multiple editions, with the volume available in hardback and paperback. I myself several years ago bought a year-or-two-old edition to have for reference of a bunch of ’90s stuff–not for the so-called “prices” or “values” listed, but as a resource to determine relatively authoritatively exactly how long various series lasted. (How many issues were there of X-O Manowar vol. 1? Instead of trying to corroborate stuff online and do a lot of Googling, just flip to the listing in Overstreet and see what the final issue listed is.)

Needless to say, I won’t even be tempted to pick up this year’s edition as a replacement or “update,” and I’d be truly curious at the effect of this “diptych” cover stunt on sales (probably not much, since I’m just one person, and grumpy at that, and it seems very few people feel so strongly on stuff as I do).

Why must there be umpteen to half a hundred variant covers rather than some sort of “art-gallery” special issue to “celebrate” a series/issue/milestone?

Valiant is just digging its hole even deeper…this totally, completely turns me OFF to even the contemplation of randomly buying X-O Manowar #50 as a new issue!

xo50_has_50_covers

Are there REALLY so many Valiant collectors that will truly be interested in and hunt down FIFTY COPIES of the same exact issue JUST for some covers? IF you want to celebrate the character, let other artists “weigh in on” the character, you want “bonus sales” without commissioning/contracting a whole extra story to publish…

What ever happened to the “art gallery” issues? Publish some 50-page “issue” that’s nothing but cover images (with or without cover text/logos) as something like X-O Manowar: A Celebration of 50 Issues or such. Sell it as a poster book. something.

How many people are totally turned off anymore to the constant glut of VARIANT covers? I would honestly be willing to argue that the last several years and present are far worse in terms of “variant covers” than the “Collector’s Age” of the 1990s ever was with variant/”enhanced edition” comics, with the “newsstand” and “direct market” covers.

Yet another thing that will leave me willing to not even buy new issues, but go and be fairly content to drop twice the cost of a “new” issue on a random late-Bronze-Age comic from a back-issue bin.

Why do book designs have to be ruined by “branding” on something that has had dozens to hundreds of books published in its course of existence?

While I might otherwise have some interest in purchasing new Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms books; Elminster specific volumes or something with Drizzt…I flat out refuse to buy any such mass-market paperback with that ugly D&D “swish” on the spine.

d&d_swoosh_on_books

Frankly, I don’t “get” it–does anyone specifically read Dragonlance or  Forgotten Realms books because they’re a sub-brand of D&D/Dungeons & Dragons? Speaking for myself–I sure do not. I’m interested in either property for the property itself, and I truly feel like these are marred by that “swish” on the spine.

I can appreciate the “branding,” of wanting to promote D&D over an individual setting, but I absolutely do not have to like it. Nor, in that regard, do I have to buy any of the newer editions thus marred by the branding.

What, exactly, is the POINT of the extra half-inch or whatever to have “oversized” mass-market paperbacks???

I absolutely loathe the things and refuse to buy them…and they can even put me “off” from a whole series of books if I’m not “chomping at the bit” TO read them.

mmpb_wih_oversized_mmpb

I’m trying to track down the hardcover edition of The President’s Shadow, having only just recently finally finished The Fifth Assassin. I’ve been getting Meltzer‘s books in hardcover since/including The Zero Game back in 2004 or so, so I don’t have much interest in the MMPB (I’ll get the e-book first, honestly). But even if I was interested in the MMPB, seeing it on the shelf like this, next two a couple of the earlier books simply reminds me that even if I switched to paperback, it’s impossible for me to have a complete set of his books that actually go together on the shelf, without at least a couple of the more recent/”middle” ones sticking out like glowingly-red sore thumbs, having been released in the “oversized” format.

And despite that, now they’re back to the “regular” paperback size…so there doesn’t even seem to be any commitment to one or the other, thus there isn’t even consistency to the books, whatever format, regardless of my liking them or not.

In a time when buying a movie shortly after initial release costs a premium and it seems fairly routine for prices to drop within a few months until it’s on the bargain racks within a year…does Disney truly sell more keeping the higher price, or would people who’d buy it at a lower price continue–like me–to pass on stuff?

Loosely, conceptually, I’m very interested in this Descendants property. I love “legacy” characters, seeing a universe expanded on, digging deeper into stuff I’ve already enjoyed…and thus, I was originally looking forward to the home-media release of Descendants last year or whenever it was.

how_long_until_discount_descendants

But the thing was not “on sale” for the “week of release” if I noticed it then, and I have been unwilling to pay the whopping $18 for a 90-minute “tv movie” that I know darned well is gonna be cheesey and hokey and more of a “guilty pleasure” than much else.

And month after month after month, I have never seen the thing on sale such that I’d be willing to purchase it. I think it might have once been “on sale” for $16.99, but $17 vs $18 is negligible for me compared to $15 or $13 or even $10. $15 would be seriously pushing its luck, $13 a bit more reasonable, and at this point, $10 ($9.99) would be ideal.

And this is at Target and Walmart, to say nothing of other retailers and such.

To me, the $17.99 is an odd price–more expensive than the $10-15 many movies cost, but not quite the “premium” $19.99+ units. Yet, this definitely is not something I would ever pay $20 for…and negligible as it may be if one’s got the money available to spend on something like this, I’m not paying the extra $3 just on principle, beyond the $15 or $14.99 I’d otherwise have been willing to pay.

And with this stuff outta the way, back to the usual content, most likely.

I continue to “find my comic book joy” in 1990s 25-cent issues, and increasingly in the notion of actually hunting down late Bronze Age comics. Contemporary comics–at $3.99 and increasingly $4.99; characters and properties being driven into holes into which I’m uninterested or unwilling to follow; variant covers in general…as publishers strive for some mythical “new readers” audience and increased month-over-month year-over-year and other buzzwords sales in a modern market…they just keep putting me off entirely to their product(s).

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4 Responses

  1. I too am quite burnt out on the concept of the variant cover. It is almost as though the companies have stopped looking at their product as an entertainment medium and consider it only as a collectible.

    I wish it would change back, but then they wouldn’t be able to put out all of their self-congratulatory press releases. I can’t remember the last time they announced the market success of a book that only had ONE cover… Maybe all the way back to the launch of the New-52?

    50 variants for X-O Manowar? That book only sells 6-7K a month! I’m no mathimagician, but I can’t follow that logic.

    You gotta wonder which “variant” of the Overstreet will have a higher value in next year’s… Overstreet. Yikes.

    • I think it was one of Brian Hibbs’ articles on CBR (Tilting at Windmills) that rooted the difference to me of selling out and sell-through… while I can “appreciate” something selling out/going to another printing, I do not tend to give such articles much credence unless the book was already unavailable at the LCS when I went on lunch Wednesday.

      Of course, I’m also relatively spoiled at the moment, having two LCS nearby that I can get to without being much out of my way, with two more easily accessible weekends I visit my parents.

      I don’t look much at Marvel solicitations online, but tend to glance more at DC, and it’s such a turnoff seeing practically every issue having a note about some variant or another.

      One of the “weekend” LCS had several copies of the bagged Batman v Superman variants of Batman #50 the other day. I was interested in the issue AS Batman #50…but was not about to pay out for the bagged variant(s) (especially at risk of getting stuck with a black-and-white/pencils cover).

      The only variants I might consider would be the #52s next month, but only if I can get any at cover price (say, for Superman and Action). They’re not enticing me to buy extra titles.

      Turns out my Overstreet volume is 2011-2012; Thor cover (as opposed to an Archie cover, I think). And strictly as the reference for ’90s series, it’s not like it’s going to go out of date on me…

  2. 50 variants is just plain ridiculous. Even if this was for the most popular comic of all time, it would be excessive. I don’t understand these cheap ploys. If anything it makes me NOT want to buy the comic because they’re essentially setting you up for failure. Who could possibly collect all 50 covers, unless you have a connection with someone in distribution or you have nothing else to do in life?

    The overall prices of these items are also getting a bit out of control. I’ve seen numerous titles I might be interested in reading, but I’d end up shelling out $20 for just a few of them, and I don’t necessarily want to make that kind of commitment. I recently bought a handful of collections for $10 each, and each had at least 5 issues collected within it. It was a much better value than had I bought them individually, but at the same time you end up having to wait quite a while for these tpb’s to be released. The only comic I insist on reading as soon as it comes out right now is “The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl”, because it’s consistently funny and entertaining, and in my mind that’s worth the $3.99 cover price

    It’s truly a shame when such mass-market greed drives fans away, but it seems to be a prevailing trend nowadays.

    • I love the Image vol. 1s–most seem to be $10, for 4-8 issues (I’m always amazed when there ARE more than 4 issues…anything more than 3 1/3 make them such a great value). And I have little problem paying $15 or so for subsequent volumes when the first was $10…and I’m far more willing to try a random vol. 1 for the $10 than something that’s $15 or more. Occasionally I even just try to find some $10 vol 1 when I’ve spent awhile in a shop and feel obliged to buy SOMEthing, and want to make it worthwhile. 🙂

      A couple buddies of mine love the Squirrel Girl series…enough that I’ll probably check it out once it’s been on Marvel Unlimited for awhile and I can binge through at least one full arc.

      I can appreciate–conceptually–Marvel and DC as corporate-owned entities (regardless of being corporate in and of themselves) and “shareholders” and all that BS… but that’s an issue I have in general even outside of comics: sure, great profits here and there, but it’s gotta be some mathematical certainty that continuous increases in profits quarter over quarter indefinitely is not a sustainable model. (my awkward phrasing should show how non-business I truly am).

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