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[Rant] Life During Quarantine: Another Side-Effect of Variants


So, stuck inside Saturday night, and a Facebook group I’m in has had some listings from a local-region shop as they sell some stuff to make up for being stuck closed.

And I saw one listing for four issues from a local creator, signed. As a spin-off series, it prompted me to check to see if the series it spun off from was available.

I figured…I really shouldn’t be spending MORE MONEY this weekend, with payday STILL a few days off…but I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, discontent, and willing for a little bit of non-retail "retail therapy."

A quick bit of online-sleuthing and I located the publisher website, and there’s a bundle of the "main" series. For less than cover price, so with shipping, wouldn’t be horrendous. Ok…

Double-checking the spin-off series…first issue is sold-out. Ok, back to that Facebook listing (viewing on the phone since the computer was loading slowly) and happened to notice…wait. That cover for #1 doesn’t look quite right.

Looking between the phone screen and computer screen…aha!

The Facebook listing is for the first four issues, yes…but they’re the variant covers!

NOT what I want. With very few, rare exceptions, I don’t want variant covers. I want to buy the actual/main/regular/real/non-variant covers for stuff!

So, what momentarily flared, the idea of splurging and buying this set of 4 issues from a comic shop owner, while simultaneously ordering 11 issues of a main series from the publisher itself quickly fizzled.

Stuff like this, I’m an all-or-nothing kinda guy. If it’s ALL in front of me, able to buy all at once, no hassling with numerous other sources across an extended period of time to gradually hunt down and piece together a full run/set, I’m far more willing to splurge and be liberal with my spending.

Even when I’m planning until that day to specifically NOT buy the stuff.

So…thanks to them being variants…I’m not buying the set of 4 issues.

Certainly no need to buy the 5th issue someway right now, without those 4.

And without these, no extra/driven desire for that main series.

Because of 4 variants, I’m not buying 15-16 issues that otherwise would virtually guarantee I’d be buying subsequent issues of both series, whenever they’d be put out.

But variants drive sales, right?

Variants entice purchases, right?

Variants are fun for the buyer, right?



Vexed by Variants AGAIN! The Weekly Haul: Week of December 26, 2019


I am so sick and tired of VARIANTS! And of course, this time it’s gonna be all the MORE memorable because it’s with an event, it’s the final week of the year, etc…it’s not "just" a random week during the year.


So, let’s get into it…the final week of the year for new comics…albeit, I have no NEW-new comics, due to the week between Christmas and New Year being a small week of remnants and all that.


So having ventured to the comic shop and soundly deciding AGAINST Marvel‘s Incoming ($9.99 and they couldn’t even squarebind the thing to go on a shelf?!?) I noticed the 2099 Omega issue from last week that no one seemed to have had.

And there next to it was the latest issue of The Amazing Spider-Man…picking that up to look at, I saw a checklist for the whole event, listing it as the last ASM issue involved.

Ok, I’ve got nothing else for the week…FINE. Let’s see what other issues are available. 33…34…is that 35? Pull out a couple copies…sure enough, yeah. 35…cool. All 4 issues. Plus the Omega issue, as I had bought the Alpha issue a few weeks ago.

Well…let’s see if they have the Doom issue? Yup. Spider-Man? Yup. Ok…what about Punisher? There it was. Ghost Rider? There as well. Hmm…Fantastic Four? Check. Ok…Conan? Sure enough…there. What was missing? Venom. Oh, look…there it was.

I was gonna wait for a collected volume, but with not having any luck finding any reference to an event collected volume online after all, and not having other stuff for the week…AND EVERY ISSUE OF THE EVENT AVAILABLE (to buy all at once, in-person, one place, one purchase, INSTANT GRATIFICATION)…and the shop was about to close for the night.


I get home, pretty pleased with my buy, despite it being a clear exception to my intent as recently as earlier in the day.

Amazing Spider-Man #34 is a VARIANT!

I grabbed issues in a hurry. Looking at the TITLE, looking at the ISSUE NUMBER. Marvel HAD–to my knowledge–been putting the word "VARIANT" in the box with the Marvel logo and issue number. So having looked at that box on all the issues, I figured I was good. No variants. Just the standard, regular, basic, non-variant covers.

Because of the [bleep]ing THEME, apparently the thing was put ELSEWHERE on the darned cover, where even though I was looking for it with the issue number and Marvel logo, I failed to see it was ELSEWHERE.

Because I was in a rush, and not studying the covers in their entirety and all that. Just taking logos and numbers at face value.


And thus even the random, against-my-better-judgement satisfaction of snagging an ENTIRE EVENT all at once, is tarnished by stupid frustration.

And that is NOT what comics should be.

To the notion of "it’s just a cover," I argue that IF it’s JUST a cover, then STOP WITH THE [bleep]ing VARIANTS! Let the cover BE THE cover!

I should NOT HAVE TO STUDY every part of EVERY cover of EVERY ISSUE that I buy, hunt for indicia in the issue, spoil the contents of the issue itself for other indication, pull up web pages on my phone, have memorized covers before going to the store just to AVOID VARIANTS.

When I am specifically, ACTIVELY, consciously TRYING TO AVOID variants and I STILL CANNOT avoid them all…there are too [bleep]ing many of the things!

It’s NOT the comic shop’s fault…it’s the publisher.

And my feeling my own stupidity at this.

I dropped all Valiant comics in the summer of 2015 over one 4-issue stunt. And I did the same with Boom Studios in January 2016 over ONE ISSUE’s variants.

Marvel is in rarified air, and by rights, I really SHOULD just drop them entirely, on the principle.

This’ll certainly teach ME to not do any impulse-buys or quantity-buys from Marvel for sure. And reminds me to just stick with BACK ISSUES from the BARGAIN BINS. Stuff I actually KNOW and/or that is inconsequential at a price point up to 90% cheaper than a single new issue.


Flashback Friday 6/1: The Life of Walt

It’s been a few years now since the last time I did any, but for a number of years–thanks to a combination of Facebook, an active social life, taking loads of photos, and simply enjoying playing around with the imagery, creating logos, etc–I created a number of comic cover-style images, on the premise of one cover, one month of my life.

I’d started in 2006 or so, thinking it was a one-off sorta thing…and with Marvel‘s lead-up to Civil War with the Road to Civil War banner, and heading toward my final summer as a college (graduate) student, I did an image with a Road to Final Summer banner, and chose the numbering based on my first (full) month of grad school.

Later, I worked my way backwards to encompass my undergrad years, and since I’d already numbered based on grad school, numbered my undergrad years as a sequence–figuring with the Marvel philosophy of "rebooting" numbering for major changes.

As such, ultimately, I figured if my life was a comic series, there’d be a 225-ish issue run for my early years through high school; a 61-issue run for going off to college, and the series would meander a bit after college, before a new series focusing on grad school. That run would then drop any mention of being a student and just continue on.

Had I kept up with that, it’d be somewhere in the 150s or so at present. Maybe someday I’ll backtrack again to fill in the gap. For now, here is a small selection of some of my favorite "covers," or at least more significant. You’ll see how I modeled stuff after "real life" comics in design, numbering, etc.!

I used the name The Third Option from a Neil Gaiman/The Sandman quote: "Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes…when you fall, you fly."


Here’s the first issue of the "relaunch" as I headed off to college…much as seemed "reasonable" at the time (before the "seasonal" or "annual" relaunching began in earnest), the long-running series of my life would relaunch under the BGSU Student designation.


Here we jump to the "end" of "the college years," where the main series kicks off a several-issue "wrap-up"–Chapter One taking place here in the "main series," Chapters Two through Four would be a 3-issue mini-series of the story title Leaving Chapman & BGSU (a separate mini to allow stuff involving friends and such, rather than strictly a focus on my life…but still involving me, self-centered as that may sound).


The story would then wrap up in the fourth Annual–with the important, key event of the actual diploma arriving, and closing the door on a hugely important four-year period!


In the immediate "aftermath" of graduating and leaving BGSU…since the series would continue its numbering but the main ‘character’ was no longer a student, taking a cue from Deathstroke: The Terminator and its morph to Deathstroke: The Hunted around Zero Hour, I tacked Alumni over the Student and went from there.

This one’s from a few months after graduation, on a rather sunny day with one of my best friends.


Continuing on, a few months later, I got my first-ever (and thus far, only "solo") apartment, that I would spend a number of months in on a short-term "college town" lease.


Toward what would become the end of my time living in the city of Bowling Green, I visited the campus of Kent State University for the first time, having been accepted into a graduate program. Several friends went with me, and I recall our (in particular) finding/wandering the student center, its plaza, and the university library.


And here, almost literally, I closed the door on by time as a student and resident associated with Bowling Green, taking this photo as my last sight of the apartment I’d lived in for more than half a year.


Starting at Kent State, I only knew friends from before my time at the school, and playing off the Identity Crisis #1 cover, I "staged" this image of a photo in a frame–I have no idea what I intended with the "laying down the past" part, at least in association with the photo–one of my best friends since the start of freshman year at BGSU, and to this day nearly 18 years later! The photo itself–in the frame–is from the start of our sophomore year. I suppose that might be the "laying down the past"–laying down the old photos, the past, and embracing the new experiences–as I quickly got "plugged in" and involved at the university.


Again, jumping to the end–here, I modeled my final month as a university student after Marvel‘s The End books…I believe this one specifically modeled after X-Men: The End.

I was one of these "weird" ones that did not relish graduation, and was actually quite annoyed to have been "tricked" into graduating a semester earlier than intended…though the details of that are a personal story.


Here’s one of my favorite "selfie" images, taken in a lobby at a friend’s wedding in 2008. No filter or such–that image is genuine/raw–sitting o a bench with two large mirrors facing each other.

Back to trends of comics–a "running backup" story across several titles at the time. Based on the obvious ploy of conning people into buying more stuff for something that isn’t even necessarily the primary focus of a series, or "rewarding" those who do follow a bunch.

I believe I modeled this off the Hostile Takeover that ran across the Superman books during the Exile story that was going on back in 1989 when I first got into comics…and perhaps also a bit after some story DC did across its annuals with either the story itself or a series of stories were added to annuals…Private Lives or some such; I don’t recall as of this writing.


Jumping ahead again, here’s one of me with my dad…one of my favorites, and one of maybe three or four photos I have thus far of the two of us…something I do need to correct sooner than not!


Moving along, this "special" issue was a case of timing–right around Free Comic Book Day, one of my best friends did this sketch and sent it to me–I believe he’d been experimenting with his then-new iPad. I modified the image slightly, I believe, and added the cover dress. I still use the image as an ‘avatar’ in some contexts online!


After attending Gen Con with a couple friends, the "painting bug" finally bit, and I spent the remainder of one month gathering supplies, and then nearly two full months getting a bunch of Warmachine miniatures painted. This is a look at the majority of those minis…and unfortunately, it’s been almost seven years since that painting blitz, and I’ve yet to get back to painting minis again, despite wanting to. Then again, the time I’ve spent on this blog sorta supplants time that "could" otherwise be spent on painting…and life was also a lot simpler seven years ago.


A very special one-shot, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me came in the spring of 2012, attending the Pittsburgh Comic Con with a friend, meeting a couple of our other friends there. Had a great time at the convention, and icing on the cake was getting to meet (albeit for just a few seconds) Stan Lee and get a photo with him!


At the end of that year (and coinciding with what would be the 100th "issue"), I got to visit one of my best friends in Alabama, and shortly after getting back, saw The Hobbit (the first one) with several friends. I also got to see the Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Airport.


Finally (for now), a "selfie" from one of my longer beard phases and a hat that once belonged to my grandfather (who introduced me to comics!).

I’ve occasionally "experimented" with different "looks" when I’ve eventually gotten around to major trimmings or shaving. I haven’t been without facial hair since the start of February 2006, but I often vary the length and full beard versus the "goatee" or "circle beard" or whatever technical term there is for it.

Maybe another time I’ll show off some more images from these. as a whole, I’ve done over 200…but no need to bore anyone with more than these. I already feel overly self-indulgent…but being at a loss for a blog topic to end the week with, and having just pulled thousands of photos and saved images off my phone, I had these handily accessible and figured they’d make a good "flashback" for a Friday.

An Extremely Rare Exception to my No-Variants Rule

I hate variant covers, and have really strongly disliked the way some publishers seem to have variants for EVERY SINGLE ISSUE of pretty much EVERY SINGLE SERIES they publish, while other publishers (particularly Marvel and DC) seem to do "theme month" variants.

DC‘s March 2015 "theme" was "movie posters," with variants for various titles spoofing famous movie posters. While it was probably the most appealing theme to me–I’d probably be interested in buying an issue of such images, or a posterbook or such–I’d still had no intention of buying any of these.

But then, the week of March 11th saw the release of Bill & Ted’s Most Triumphant Return #1, and being in a nostalgic mood over BIll & Ted as a property, seeing the Action Comics #40 cover totally grabbed me.


Yet, with the way I rail on about variants, and see them as quite ridiculous to just be thrown in a box or lost in a pile somewhere, and I REALLY dug this cover…since I’ve been framing posters lately, I justified this very specific, limited exception to my usual by immediately buying a small "document frame" in order to frame and hang the cover as a small print.

Now I have a fun image hanging in my apartment that on the whole wasn’t terribly expensive.

100 Months of Life

If my life was a comic, it would be The Life of Walt. Following the trends of the time, the series would have run #1 through whatever, rebooting with a new #1 and subtitle when I went off to college in 1999, as The Life of Walt: BGSU Student. After a short few years and second subtitle The Life of Walt: BGSU Alumni, the series would again reboot for my going off to grad school in 2004 as The Life of Walt: Kent State Student. Following graduation, instead of another renumbering, the series would continue on, and starting from grad school, December 2012 was month #100.


I started creating these images partway through grad school, and enjoyed doing so enough that I backtracked, finding older photos to go back from #19 to #1, and in the years since have kept up–for awhile month to month, and “catching up” once or twice a year the last several years.

My dilemma now is: I hate the constant renumbering in contemporary comics, yet #100 would be approximately #384, so January 2013 could simply be #385, and go from there.

Whatever the case–the “covers” above are all distinct images with full-size counterparts on my computer and personal facebook account.

I was inspired by the cover gallery of all the ‘regular’ Amazing Spider-Man covers shown in Amazing Spider-Man #700 several weeks ago.

Taking a personal moment

If my life was a comic series…

The latest issue would be #97 from September. And the 2012 Annual would be an expansion of stuff from April 2012, visiting the Pittsburgh Comic Con with friends, where I got to meet Stan Lee (if only for a few seconds).

The Life of Walt #97

The Life of Walt Annual 2012

I’ve been doing these comic-cover images since 2006. With few exceptions, each “cover” uses photos from a given month of my life. The current numbering began with August 2004 when I started grad school.

A Multi-Panel cover image done RIGHT

Rediscovered this over the weekend: the covers to Batman: Battle for the Cowl #s 1-3 fit together to make a single, large 3-panel image.

And thankfully, rather than serve as 3 variants to any single image of the mini-series…each stands on its own and serves as a single cover for DIFFERENT issues each.

I only had to purchase ONE copy of EACH issue, and by getting the entire 3-issue mini, I got the entire image.

REALLY wish this practice was followed in general.

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