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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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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 14, 2016

Another manageably small week for me, and of primarily (or just) DC stuff.

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I made three exceptions in buying stuff coming to me later this month via DCBS bundles… Three issues that I wanted immediate gratification, to read right away, no waiting.

As usual, Action Comics and Detective Comics were top-notch…”proving” to me they genuinely are back to being the “flagship titles” of their families, and the publisher.

I was rather curious about Superwoman, and while interested in the story and such, it didn’t feel quite up to the moment for me, so I’ll likely be a bit more patient next month and just wait on it.

While I’m digging Detective, I figure I might give it one more issue like this and see if the fate of Tim Drake is an ongoing subplot* or not…and if it isn’t a heavy thing, I’ll wait–THE reason I was making this book an exception was Tim Drake, and if he’s not going to be used as a prominent character in the ongoing story, then I can definitely wait a bit on reading the story.

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On Saturday, for the (third?) annual Batman Day I swung through a shop I was passing and browsed a bit and ultimately settled on Dark Knight, Dark City–a volume I’d apparently forgotten about but presumably had known about. It’s another of these nice, thick volumes DC has been putting out that is truly a solid value at full cover price but which is even moreso at a discount.

20% off for Batman Day and a FREE (to me!) Batman (2016) #1. New/variant cover, but as a freebie and special event, in this case, a variant, the existence of the variant is honestly quite acceptable to me. The only rub is, this is a free copy of a full issue that was just released commercially for full cover price about three months ago. Of course, with the biweekly shipping, Batman already has six issues out and a new arc beginning in a couple more days, so anyone pursuing the story for immediacy is not in a position of having an issue of the “current” story handed away free after having just paid for it.


Over at the Facebook Page (you do know I have a Facebook Page, right?) I’ve also just shared a couple links that Bleeding Cool posted; pieces on Clone Conspiracy and another on what impact the Civil War II “tag” has had on crossover/tie-in books.

The Clone Conspiracy piece is basically some coverage of a statement writer Dan Slott put out there urging retailers to order more copies of the upcoming premiere issue, and urging consumers to contact their shops now to ensure they have a copy on hold.

Apparently the mini-series/”core event” will be the CORE Spidey book, so the actual ongoing (excuse me, seasons) of the “regular books” are just along for the ride, telling tie-in stories (the difference here vs. Civil War II is that Clone Conspiracy seems to be a “smaller event” contained to the Spidey family of books rather than crossing the entire universe). However, I fully expect Marvel to have “leaked” or otherwise provided the/any major spoiler information to a news source that will “go live” with it at least two days ahead of the issue’s actual release, thus negating any reason to “have to” get it or ability to enjoy being surprised by a Marvel comic.

The Civil War II piece looks at the impact or lack thereof on several titles tying into the universe-spanning event. Me? I’ve “dropped” the only two titles that I had been giving a chance, from Marvel. I didn’t even wait for the actual tie-in issues of Power Man and Iron Fist or Thunderbolts to come out to skip…once I was certain I’d seen an issue of each as having a tie-in, I dropped ’em cold turkey.

Why waste $4 an issue for additional issues when I already know I’m not going to be going beyond the first handful of issues anyway, thanks to the tie-in?

Of course, I personally do not matter, not really: factor in variants and my purchase is absolutely not required…there’s someone else who’s glad to buy an extra copy or few that more than makes up for me.

Response to Recent Readings

So, I’m catching up on my Bleeding Cool reading (haven’t bothered with Newsarama in ages and seems Bleeding Cool–whatever its faults–has more that interests me, and more “discussion” than CBR).

And today, several stories have caught my attention. So for lack of other thoughts for a post tonight, I offer some thoughts on stuff I’ve read tonight:

Subscription Sadness for Detective Comics #27

I’m absolutely in the camp that–had I received this letter telling me that I would be denied the next issue of a series I’d already bought the subscription to, I’d be cancelling and demanding a refund. There is no good reason I can see to pull this. I hadn’t really been planning on buying the issue anyway, but unless I stumble across “news” that this has been reversed, I’ll avoid the issue on principle.

All-New Marvel Now – Buy One Comic, Get Five Free (Kindle Update)

Well, all this Kindle stuff is meaningless for me–I’m a Nook guy, and even then, not so much these days as most of my reading’s been comics…for which I use Comixology on the digital side. I might be tempted to spring for a couple issues, as–if nothing else–$3.99 for the print issue is cheaper than the price of the digital collected volume. I’m not all that interested in any of the specific issues, though.

All-New Marvel Now Kicks Off Retailer Promotions

Of all of these, I might check out All-New X-Factor. I’m not particularly interested in the others…ESPECIALLY as these are undoubtedly $3.99 double-shippers, and I’m just not keen on what I’ve learned of these so far otherwise. Only other one I might be tempted to try would be X-Force…but I’m wondering if that’s a THIRD X-Force title (alongside Uncanny and Cable And)?  Again, the main thing that’s gonna keep me OUT is the $3.99 price tag. The likely double-shipping just makes things worse on top of that.

Magneto Gets an Ongoing Series in March from Bunn and Walta

…But I’ll probably suck it up and check out Magneto. I’ve long been quite fond of the character, particularly since the original Age of Apocalypse story back in ’94/’95. Not quite sure what to make of this one, but I’ll at least grab the first issue, and go from there.

Bryan Singer Announces X-Men: Apocalypse Film for 2016

Um…ok, great. But isn’t it weird that this is getting announced…oh…five months BEFORE the release of Days of Future Past? I mean, I get tired of hearing too much about films before they actually come out, but now to start hearing of a followup to a film that’s half a year from debuting? Ugh.

Losing Two Titles From My Pull-List

Two out of the Three Boom! Studios comics I’ve been following end this January. Higher Earth with #9 and Extermination with #8.

Neither of these series has had enough time (to me) to REALLY build a true foundation. They’re only just now starting to gain some tread after laying the groundwork in the first few issues. So much of the potential they hold seems like it’s just being tossed down the drain.

It’s also rather discouraging as I figured I’d hop on board with the singles instead of “just” waiting for eventual collected volumes the way I usually do. Yet, here these are canceled and it just seems sorta pointless.

While Hypernaturals gets to continue, who’s to say it won’t just be canceled in another month or so?

For $3.99/issue, I’d rather be investing in something that’s at least gonna be around a year or more, and see room to really grow organically from an actual foundation. That’s already more than paid off with TMNT at IDW, and seems to be paying off with Valiant.

Bad enough one title’s being ended, but two? Out of THREE? Not exactly much incentive to buy the single issues until a series is a couple years in and proven it’s more likely to stick around awhile.

via Bleeding Cool’s post: Avatar, Boom, Dynamite And Valiant Solicitations For January 2013.

HYPERNATURALS #7 MAIN CVRS

(W) Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning (A) Andres Guinaldo, Tom Derenick (CA) Tom Derenick, Kris Anka

With their greatest enemy on the loose, the Hypernaturals are left with little choice but to pursue the only avenue of inquiry they have left, one that might save the Quantinuum, or plunge the universe into a greater, more terrifying darkness…

———-

HIGHER EARTH #9 MAIN CVRS

(W) Sam Humphries (A) Francesco Biagini (CA) Frazer Irving, Garry Brown

THIS IS IT, THE FINAL ISSUE!For the first time in her life, Heidi is absolutely certain of what she must do next…and Rex is forced to face the consequences of the events he has set in motion, as the final push against HIGHER EARTH comes to its epic conclusion!

———-

EXTERMINATION #8 MAIN CVRS

(W) Simon Spurrier (A) V Kenneth Marion (CA) Tom Derenick, Antonio Fuso

FINAL ISSUE! It all ends here — in the heart of the Abattoir, Nox and Red Reaper attempt to unleash Absolute on the world. Will their final gamble succeed in ridding our dimension of the EDDA infiltration? Will they both survive the encounter? And what will become of the post-post-apocalypse? The superhero epic comes to its conclusion, straight from the minds of Simon Spurrier and artist V Ken Marion!

The Rest of the Stack: Week of June 6, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

X-O MANOWAR #2

This issue continues (obviously) from the last, offering first a flashback and then picking up in the “present” with Aric and his fellow slaves tending to The Vine’s whims. Aric is mutilated when he attempts to defend a fellow slave, which seems likely to be a key point to be played on as this series unfolds. We then flash forward a few years, and see the slaves’ rebellion against The Vine, and see Aric bond with the X-O armor. I continue to like the story–this has all sorts of echoes of the classic #0 issue from the old series, but updated and expanded a bit. Normally I wouldn’t really like that, but it’s working here for me, as actual development (especially since we’ve actually had appearances by the X-O armor in both issues thus far rather than being put off for several). The art’s also working well for me. I’m also pretty sure that this is a new record for me…two consecutive months of buying X-O Manowar as it comes out. Quite enjoying this new Valiant, and looking forward to a hopefully lengthy run of this quality! (8/10)

AVENGERS Vs. X-MEN #5

The Avengers and the X-Men have gathered on the moon, to fight over custody/freedom of Hope…but the close proximity of the Phoenix causes Hope to lose control and beg Wolverine to go ahead and kill her before it’s too late. But it is–the Phoenix Force itself has arrived. Tony Stark flies a device into the Phoenix to attempt to destroy it, but it turns out that the expectations we all had were just a bit off, as the true host of the Phoenix is revealed. I like this issue overall, and less than half way through the 12 issues, I’m glad to see that the Phoenix has arrived and all that–we’re not left waiting til #9 or 10. I’m rather tired of the “match-ups” between the various characters…though I suppose in this main series I’d rather the “cameos” to wasted space on the fights themselves (I’ll get the detail on those in other tie-in issues if I keep up with ’em). The art’s not bad, though somehow I’ve gotten it into my head that we’re due for a switch, and I’m just now getting used to this visual style. Possibly the best part of the issue–and this ‘event’ so far–is this issue’s ending, where we get a surprise that I was honestly NOT expecting, I like the design unveiled here, and I’m actually interested in where things are now headed (and what it’ll mean long-term for the new Host of the Phoenix). (8/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #13

While the fight for Hope between the X-Men and Avengers unfolds on the moon, Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke find themselves stuck “just waiting” to see what the outcome is with the arrival of the Phoenix. Meanwhile, some of the mutant kids have escaped “captivity” at the Avengers Academy, and confront Danger and Unit about how they might be able to participate in the conflict. Unfortunately, Unit pulls a fast one on ’em, leaving everyone in bad condition…and the conflict on the moon ends, and we revisit the revelation from the end of Avengers vs. x-Men #5. The art for this issue’s not bad…and I kinda like the look we get at Magneto, Storm, and Psylocke–three very powerful mutants who aren’t part of the major battle, and how they interact while they “wait.” I’m not a huge fan of the kids, though, and as I’ve begun glossing over the “Previously” page, I actually MISSED the note that this issue takes place AFTER Avengers Academy, so AA #31 was spoiled for me for reading this first. Not a bad issue for a tie-in, though I would have liked more focus on Magneto and less on the kids. (7/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #31

Seems that expectations of Sebastian Shaw may have been off the mark as he reveals different colors here. Despite orders to the contrary, the Academy folks realize they can’t follow those orders–so they manage a rather amusing (particularly Hercules’ part) “out” for the situation. I think I was expecting a longer arc, but this seems to be the end of a 3-parter. I have no problem there–I do get rather tired of fixed 6-parter-every-story situations, but it’s come to seem rather rare to me. The writing for the issue is good, and I’m liking the characters overall. The only real trouble is that there are quite a few, and I’ve not yet really connected with most, nor do they stick out to me as individuals yet once I’ve put an issue down. That limits my personal liking of the book, but I trust that continued exposure will change that. The art’s quite good; I really enjoy Grummett‘s work in particular. All in all, not a bad issue on the whole, and Protective Services arc seems to be over, I hope the next issue continues with the AvX tie-in, as right now that’s a great excuse for following this book. Still, so long as it’s $2.99 I may follow this post-AvX, though I’ve not tried to make that decision for any of the tie-in titles yet. (7.5/10)

BLEEDING COOL #0

Though comic-sized physically, this is technically a magazine. And I have to admit, it was the $1.49 price point and the Valiant stuff that motivated my purchase. I’ve followed Rich Johnston‘s stuff for years–from Lying in the Gutters that I looked forward to every week at CBR and then the Bleeding Cool website when that launched. I’m not expecting any kind of high journalism here, and I don’t get any impression that the BC crew intends that with this project. But I quite enjoyed having something in-print physically to read and learn from, as well as seeing some of these images on paper instead of just a computer screen. I don’t trust the “price guide,” though if anyone wants to make me a BC-price-guide-level offer on The Walking Dead, I’ll sell you my singles from the past year or so! I’m kinda not-thrilled to get this #0 issue at the beginning of June, and have to now wait at least 4, maybe almost 5 months for the full launch of #1 in October. I’m also not sure what physical size/format this is going to be in the long haul–but I certainly appreciate the comic book dimensions, whether stapled or square-bound, as opposed to the larger “magazine-size.” Keeping this to a comic size will allow far easier storage, and a squared binding means I could stick it on a shelf. Overall, I’m quite happy with my $1.50 purchase here, and I’m definitely looking forward to the ongoing editions. (9/10)

AVENGERS: THE AVENGERS INITIATIVE

Even though this issue came out awhile ago, it was on the recent-issues rack, and I bought this to meet a $5 minimum purchase to use my credit/debit card at another comic shop. I waffled between this and Dark Avengers (formerly Thunderbolts) #175, but wound up buying this since it’s a one-shot to make sure I wouldn’t get sucked into another ongoing series. Unfortunately, I quite regret that logic, as I wasn’t 100% sure what this was, but halfway hoped it was a 616-universe story involving the movie Avengers characters. But this was a sort of pointless (to me) prologue to the Avengers film showcasing why the characters were originally chosen by Fury to be considered for the Avengers Initiative, with a scene for each that backs up Fury’s points. The story is flimsy, though the art’s rather pretty to see. I do appreciate that while visual cues from the films are maintained, the characters don’t come off as trying to be direct renditions of the actors. This wasn’t a horrible purchase, and I get what I chose by logic to get–an inconsequential one-shot that leaves me nothing else to buy related to the issue…unless I get overcome by curiosity and pick up that Dark Avengers issue with the new week’s comics. (5/10)

Constantine DCU-bound?

constantinebooksRegarding the Bleeding Cool post on the topic…This could be interesting…though I’d wonder if perhaps it’d be similar to how Marvel’s had the “Marvel MAX” Punisher as its own continuity separate from their mainline “Marvel Universe” Punisher character.

I do recall about a decade ago when I was introduced to Constantine, feeling sure I’d seen the character in the Day of Judgment series (he HAD to have been there…or so I thought. I was wrong.)

Personally…I see little reason this couldn’t or shouldn’t happen. Keep his own title to what it is/has been, in its own continuity…and otherwise let the character back into the DCU as what he is, but keep him to more of a guest-starring role; he doesn’t need to have a second title within the DCU. Similar to how the Phantom Stranger shows up now and then, or how Marvel’s Watcher shows up here ‘n there.

Might even be enough to convince me to pick up some DCU books I’m otherwise pretty much ignoring for present.

Rich Johnston’s original post:

I don’t know where. I don’t know when. I don’t know how.

But I am reliably informed from a certain Brazilian in the know that John Constantine will be appearing as a major character in upcoming DC Universe titles, post Flashpoint.

Created in the then-DC Universe title Swamp Thing, by John Totleben, Steve Bissette and Alan Moore, this street-level occultist span off his own comic series, John Constantine: Hellblazer and, with Sandman and Swamp Thing, spearheaded the Vertigo line of mature readers comic books, including the much derided Keanu Reeves vehicle, Constantine.

Rare in comics, Hellblazer takes place in real time with the sixty something supernatural opportunist currently married to the twenty something cultural rebel Epiphany, and continues his adventures as an occult adventurist, detective and saviour, scarred by the ages. Even his shock of blonde hair has been considerably receding of late.

But now I understand that Constantine will soon be appearing in DC Universe titles. There’s a possible appearance in Flashpoint:Lois Lane looking at the cover, but what I’m being told is a longlasting return to DC Universe continuity.

If nothing else, it might be good for his hairline.

via John Constantine To Return To The DC Universe Bleeding Cool Comic Book, Movies and TV News and Rumors.

Another reason to “wait for the trade.”

Twenty-Seven #2 coverLately, I tend to “wait for the trade” on mini-series. After all, it’s not an ongoing series, so I might as well wait for the version of the story I’d prefer for a finite story.

Of course, for the times I might consider otherwise, any chance of an “impulse buy” are shot if the single issue(s) aren’t even available FOR said “impulse purchase.”

If I have to wait til issue 3 to get issue 2, even if I can get a (later) print of issue 1…I’m not even gonna READ the thing until I’m reading 3/4 chapters in one go…so why not wait the extra couple months, and read all 4/4 in one go, in one volume? (Or maybe by then I won’t have any interest, and will give the thing a pass as a whole).

Granted, if they already did an “overprint” and still sold out (in this case, on the 27 series), there’s less fault on the publisher. Doesn’t change the fact that this was a series I was kinda interested in checking out–and would have tried the first issue…but no one HAD the first issue, of the 5 or 6 comic shops I visited the week it was to have come out (and even the online purchase I attempted was canceled/refunded for not getting in what they’d ordered).


via Now 27 #2 Sells Out Weeks Before Shipping – And Gets A Second Printing [Bleeding Cool].

Looks like it was no one-off. Weeks before the second issue of 27 by Charles Soule and Renzo Podesta is set to ship, it has already sold out its overprint at distributor level and a second printing approved. Just as the second printing of 27 #1 is set to ship with 27 #2, so the second printing of 27 #2 will now ship with 27 #3.

So if you missed out of the first print of the first issue… yeah, looks like you’re going to miss out on the first print of the second issue too.

Ho ho ho.

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