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According to Valiant, the Comics Industry Isn’t Built for Comics to Have Only 1 Cover Per Issue


I’m rather dismayed at information I was given–by an industry professional–over the weekend.

I rail against variant covers, as probably any reader of this blog knows. But now I have it from a major figure of a fairly major publisher that apparently, the industry is NOT BUILT FOR NON VARIANTS.

Saturday, I read an article on Bleeding Cool about Valiant‘s latest stunt–a game of collect-and-clip-coupons-to-mail-away-for-a-super-special-limited-edition isue–and I tweeted a comment referencing the Valiant language of the stunt being a "tribute" to the 1990s coupon promotions:

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Not long after, to my surprise, I received a response:

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I followed up, as that answer does not sit well with me AT ALL:

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I continued:

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And I received these followups:

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I am not, myself a publisher; I am not involved in that part of comics. All I know is as a fan, a customer, someone who BUYS comics, and has been REPEATEDLY "burned" by the use of variants and stunts involving the intentional screwing-over of longtime fans in interest of a short burst.

I think it’s a bunch of crap that the industry "is not set up for that" [doing only 1 cover per issue].

THAT ALONE shows me the short-sightedness and HUGE PROBLEM with the comics industry. For a publisher to feel that they CANNOT POSSIBLY go with ONLY ONE COVER for a SINGLE iSSUE of a serialized comic book?!?

Does that mean that the material is NOT QUALITY, and can ONLY sell well enough to BE published by forcing people to buy MULTIPLE COPIES of an issue? (Why not just double or TRIPLE the price, and insert an extra full-page image and 3 more ads in the back?)

"Trying 1 cover with Mirage" suggests (to me) a lack of commitment. It’s not like that’s a top-tier primary character from the publisher…so it’s not going to sell as well ANYWAY as, say, a more recognized property like X-O Manowar. So it’s tried with one issue (or 4 or 5, the entire mini-series?) of one series. That’s hardly lengthy enough to get the idea out there that quality stands on itself instead of just not selling as many copies as a bigger title that IS using variants.

IF variants were truly limited solely to A/B 50/50 1:1 individually-orderable status, I still don’t like them, but those sorts I can sort of overlook. But it’s the ratioed variants that cause me the most frustration; the 1:10 and 1:25 and 1:50, with the worst offenses getting up into 1:100, 1:500, 1:1000 levels, to list a few (and without getting into specific Marvel numbers/hoops I’ve seen referenced, say, by Brian Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills columns)

But both Valiant and Boom! have earned my ire (and specific avoidance + loss of existing purchasing in protest) over the variants and ratio-based shenanigans.

I just have a really hard time getting my head around the notion that the industry is so ****ed up that supposedly it can’t support comics being published and standing as themselves, without Every. Single. ISSUE. having at least one variant!

I guess I’ll be "interested" to "see" what "initiative" is being done for X-O Manowar, though at this point, it being Valiant, the publisher that is going back to making people clip coupons out of an issue and pay to mail those and shipping expenses to receive some "special edition" issue, and the publisher that sought to force longtime, loyal customers into being Valiant salespeople if they wanted to keep up with the "full story" of the comics universe…I can’t say I’m expecting all that much.

Given I’ve seen numerous comic shops with multiple longboxes full of nothing but "variants"–an ENTIRE IN-STORE CATEGORY–obviously (to me, experientially) that means it’s NOT LIKE they’re ALL SELLING. SOME people MAY "like them," but not enough people to buy them all!

And *I* think that if publishers would just give the darned things A REST and STOP IT for several months, take the "hit" of "lower profits" for the short-term, it might avoid as much likelihood of a bomb-out like the ’90s.

That the entire viability of a publisher is predicated on variants, as if it’s an unconscionable loss to not use variants on every issue, makes me an official subscriber to the notion of the industry being in trouble.

But hey, that must mean that I am just old. That I am not the target audience. Comics are no longer for me if I’m not willing to change and embrace the trend(s), right?

Well, dear publishers (not just Valiant), where IS the mythical "new audience," the huge influx of "new readers" and such? When comics are among the worst value in entertainment, frustrating the people who overlook that week in and week out is (to me) not the best of plans.

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3 Responses

  1. Couldn’t agree more… this whole thing stinks. It’s crazy to consider that the industry has just accepted something like this. In times of trouble, rather than tell engaging stories or trying to find ways to cut costs… they’re just going to flood the market with books (and covers) which won’t come anywhere close to the Diamond Top 10… or even 25.

    This elusive and enigmatic “new fan” better show up soon… because, for all their bluster… WE are still the only saps buying their wares… and I think many of those like us feel the same way we do.

    It’s such a sad thought to think about the industry in 20 years… looking back at these covers. I remember looking at comic covers with such awe… even during times of disposable storytelling, the covers were still important. Loved it when they put the covers on trading cards too… I think most fans will recognize key issues from not only our youth, but the infancy of the industry. We can instantly recognize ANY issue from the Death of Superman, or the first dozen issues of Spawn… imagine looking back on now and trying to get excited over XO Manowar… volume 5… number 1… cover F. ugh…

  2. That’s the thing…and maybe I’ll do a full post on the matter sometime, but… what’s the last majorly-“iconic” cover that’s gotten an homage outside of “the clique” that created the original?

    Something I’m trying to think about; I just re-saw a comparison of the Booster Gold #0 / Zero Hour #4 covers, so that’s unfairly stuck in my mind at the moment.

    Bears further thought on my part, for sure…

  3. […] as stated last week by Valiant‘s Dinesh Shamdasani, "we’d love nothing more but the industry is not set up for that" [having only 1 cover […]

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