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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).

MMPR and Why I’m Done With Boom! Studios’ Single Issues

I was excited last week for the debut of the new Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series from Boom! Studios. I was annoyed at the SEVEN different covers for the #0 issue…but they’re all such great-looking pieces, and the property has just the right bit of nostalgia, that I was actually looking at bucking my usual hatred of variants.

I enjoyed the story of the issue, in part along with the notion of acquiring not one, but SIX to SEVEN copies of the issue, to frame and display the covers in my “comic cave.”

Unfortunately, I was only able to acquire one single cover (Black Ranger), and when I took to online retailers, no one had any of the issues in stock…and then I was BLOWN AWAY when I tried eBay…and learned that TWO of the covers were RATIOED VARIANTS.

1_50_green_ranger

The Green Ranger cover was 1:50, and the White Ranger was a whopping 1:100.

That is…for every FIFTY COPIES of the regular covers a retailer orders, they can order ONE single, solitary copy of the Green Ranger cover. A retailer would have to order ONE HUNDRED COPIES of the regular covers to be able to order ONE single, solitary copy of the White Ranger cover.

That is complete and utter BS, and I call shenanigans!

1_100_white_ranger

This is a “team book,” that is–the book stars the TEAM, a cast of more than one primary character–in this case, a team of SIX characters. ONE of those characters spent time with the powers of two different Rangers–Green and White. So while all SEVEN covers would be a great set, since the story FOCUSES on the early part of the Green Ranger even being part of the group, the White Ranger cover COULD be seen as a “bonus” cover, separate from the “set.” Bad enough each character has to have their own individual cover (rather than any sort of team cover)…but then Boom! goes and pulls this, taking arguably the most popular (Green and White) and making them not 1:7 (equal ratio), not 1:10 but 1:50 and 1:100 respectively.

Even if a retailer gets the issues at $1 each, that makes the Green cover a $50 book, and the White a $100 book. Move that price upward the more the retailer has to pay.

What would have otherwise been a fun little “exception” to my no-variants personal policy has turned into downright frustration, and frankly, at this point, I’m done with Boom!

I was “all-in” for three years with Valiant, and dropped the publisher as a whole last summer over their crap with the Legends of the Geomancer. It’s been awhile since Boom! has really had anything of any interest to me–Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was gonna be my gateway back into their product, to having something of theirs on my pull list (and through whatever house ads/etc, I’d see as a result) probably get some of their other series back in my attention.

Instead, on principle, I’ll be voting with my wallet. Instead of my buying 6-7 copies of THE SAME ISSUE now, and continuing to purchase the ongoing monthly series’ issues each month, AND whatever else would grab my attention from there…I’ll likely part ways with the copy of the issue I did buy. And going forward, I will not only not be buying the series at all, I’ll not only passively not currently be buying anything from the publisher…I’ll be actively AVOIDING the publisher’s entire output…at least as single issues. Perhaps later in the year I’ll make an exception for a collected edition (provided the collected edition itself does not have variants), but as single issues go, as “supporting the series” goes…nope.

Thanks, Boom! for operating on the short-sightedness and money grab. You’ve earned ill-will on my end.

The Right and Wrong Way To Do Interlocking Covers

I’ve made it more than clear (and will continue to do so) that I hate variant covers as a general thing and on principle.

The worst "type" of variant cover to me is the "interlocking" variant. This forces one to–IF they actually want the "whole" image–to purchase MULTIPLE copies of the same exact issue.

The first one that ever really caught my attention, and totally ticked me off and turned me off to the series as a result, was Justice League of America with #1:

interlocking_jla1

Then there was Geoff Johns wrapping up his run with JSA/Justice Society of America. To "celebrate" his time and commemorate the "end of an era" a large group shot of the many characters that had been a part of and defined during his run was used…split across three covers for the issue:

interlocking_jsa26

This also turned me off to buying Boom! Studios/Boom! KidsThe Incredibles. This team of four, a family, as a GROUP starring in the title–was split across two covers for #0…

interlocking_incredibles000

…and for #1. If they wanted to be cute or "fun" or such, these could’ve been the first four covers, or done as a wrap-around cover. I refused to support this and so never ended up buying any of the single issues.

interlocking_incredibles001

Of course, this wasn’t an entirely new concept. It was done for 1991’s X-Men #1…with FOUR different covers. (Icing on the cake? A "deluxe" edition was also available that was a double-gatefold-wraparound combining all four into a single piece on a single copy of the issue).

interlocking_xmen1991

More recently, IDW did this with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1…four covers and a "deluxe" version combining the four…or so I hear (I haven’t seen a physical copy myself as yet).

interlocking_tmnt001

Bringing all this back to my attention MOST recently was that Valiant pulled this stunt with X-O Manowar #31…

xomanowar031_ab

…AND with #32! And these aren’t even anything special (not to me, anyway!).

xomanowar032_ab

Both could easily have been gatefold covers, which would have been nifty and amusing enough for a change of pace. Or they could have simply been covers for separate issues of the story arc.

Aside from the principle of the thing is that there are some GREAT examples of the interlocking images being used very well! Instead of having to buy multiple copies of the SAME ISSUE, they can reward one buying an entire story, or at least getting the first couple issues of a series.

My first experience with this was the United We Stand crossover story in the early 1990s between the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures and Mighty Mutanimals books from Archie:

interlocking_tmnt_mutanimals.jpg

Next to that, probably my next favorite was the start of the New Krypton arc awhile back in the Superman books:

interlocking_new_krypton

We also had that with the first two issues of All-New X-Men (I cannot figure out where the third panel was used–these were part of a single image on a promotional postcard at the time).

interlocking_allnewxmen

Last summer I found a bunch of Kid Eternity issues and when I’d laid the issues out to photograph for this blog, I was surprised to REALIZE the mini-series provided a single image across the three issues.

interlocking_kid_eternity_mini

I’m sure there are many other examples of both types of interlocking covers; and this does not even get into other problems I have with variants, nor the notion of the pin-ups (vs. variant covers) , wraparound covers, and other gimmicks.

Ultimately, to me there should never be interlocking VARIANTS. Interlocking COVERS are ok but lose all sense of "cuteness" or "funness" when done as variants.

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.

bill_ted_superman_doomsday_actioncomics040

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.

MORE Valiant Variant Annoyance!

I complained several weeks ago about discovering that my copy of X-O Manowar #31 was only one-HALF of an image…no wrap-around cover, no gatefold. I’d have to buy TWO COPIES of the SAME ISSUE if I wanted to actually have the entire cover image.

Now I find out the same thing’s happening with #32 as well!

xomanowar032_ab

And I don’t even like the image all that much from this perspective.

Aric’s butt, or what looks like it could be Giant-Man’s foot from The Ultimates coming down on an armored figure.

If you have a four-issue arc…put the halves on subsequent issues. If you have a 3-issue arc, do a wrap-around cover or a gatefold, or AT LEAST provide some sort of pull-out poster or something.

if it’s just a cover, why do it?

And for those who would say to me that it’s no big deal, if I don’t like it I don’t have to buy the variants/multiple-copies-of-the-same-issue, I say: if it’s no big deal, then the publishers should QUIT DOING IT!

I’ve already "accepted" variants as a "Thing" but darn it…I’m sick and tired of even "just" sticking to my "standard, most basic" or "A" cover or such winding up with only half an image.

Seems there was a 5-part interlocking series of variants for X-O Manowar #0…FIVE. BUT I can overlook that as those were a variant image entirely, and didn’t impact me with my standing order of "A-cover or most basic non-variant" for my pull list. I bought one single copy of that issue, got the image that had been used in advertising/previews for the issue, the standard image I’d come to associate the issue prior to its release.

With these 2-part interlocking covers where they ARE the standard covers…I don’t have that choice. OR I have to seek out a rarer variant just to have a single image for the cover…and the image may or may not be all that relevant to the issue in question.

Much as I’ve stayed "loyal" to Valiant, maintained a blanket "everything single-issue Valiant puts out" for my pull list…this is frustrating and annoying enough to have me asking myself what it would look like if I dropped Valiant entirely.

Or shifted to collected volumes only. After all, those (TYPICALLY!) have only one cover, and there’s the chance the variants might be included as bonus pages/backmatter there, and let me avoid the "issue" of variants with the singles.

Valiant Variant Annoyance

When spread across multiple CHAPTERS of a story (whether restricted to the same title or multiple titles in a crossover) I often rather enjoy piecing together a larger image from several comics.

xomanowar031_ab

When it’s done like this–2 to 3 "panels" of a single image split  on the SAME ISSUE, it just totally ticks me off and frustrates me to no end.

I do not understand the practice, and I REFUSE to buy multiple copies of the same issue when the SOLE DIFFERENCE is which PART of the cover image is ON the cover.

Why this could not have been the cover images to #s 30 & 31, or 31 & 32 is beyond me.

Too many covers: Variants are an ANTI-selling point for me

toomanycoversbatman13to17I’ve long been frustrated with variant covers. They’re actually a turnoff to me, these days–comics that I would OTHERWISE try, if I know ahead of time or see in-person there are variants, I might avoid them. Case in point: this week’s Justice League of America #1.

There are over 50 covers for this issue–a standard US flag, all 50 states, and I’m not even sure what all else (Guam? Puerto Rico? Washington DC?). I actually picked up the sole remaining copy at the LCS this week with the Ohio cover, and thought about it. Ultimately, I decided: nope. Not giving in, on principle.

And because I’m not buying the first issue, I’m not going to try the second, and so on. One cover, one comic…yeah, I probably would’ve given it a try. But as with other series I’ve passed on a first issue due to variants: someone buying multiple copies will SURELY make up for me not only not buying any of this issue, but make up for my not buying any subsequent issues…right?

I’ve also long recalled with fondness several comics from the 1990s that came with TWO covers. You might still have a 50/50 split–half the printrun has Cover A on top, half the run has Cover B on top. But for someone like me–if I don’t like the top cover, I could pull it off and voila! Cover I want. Or even if I don’t have a problem with the “top” cover, I also HAVE the other covers.

The closest I have seen with this lately is with digital comics. From what I’ve observed, it seems that digital comics (specifically from Comixology) load with the “standard” cover. However, either as the very next page(s) or at the end of the issue, one might be treated to the other cover images associated with that issue.

I particularly noticed this recently with the Batman: Death of the Family arc. Along with each “main” or standard cover, after the issue’s content, each had several more pages–the issue’s variant covers.

I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed this with several Boom! issues and possibly also Valiant. Truly, for me this would be the way to go if I actually had an interest in the covers. (Though I suppose ideally, with the digital one would be able to select which cover to display in their app).

Combine variants with $3.99 and I’m even further put-off from purchasing the issue.

My attitude toward variants extends to actually avoiding certain news or entire sites. I don’t even bother with DC‘s The Source blog anymore, because I got frustrated with the endless posts touting the next VARIANT cover. See so-and-so’s pencils for [Series] #whatever Variant cover. See this artist’s extra-“rare” ratioed variant. Check out the awesome colors on the final version of such-and-such’s variant for whatever series.

Whenever I browse the latest solicitations, as soon as I start seeing all the “This issue will ship with multiple covers” declaration…I just start scanning on past. Maybe the story, or the start of a new arc would be something to get my attention with to try or give another try of the series…you lose me as soon as I see the variants as a “selling point.”

Granted if I held 100% to avoiding anything with variants, I’d have nothing to buy, so I attempt to turn a relatively blind eye to some titles; particularly the Valiant and TMNT books. However, I have specifically requested my pull list be fulfilled with whatever the Standard or “A” cover is; and I’ve started double-checking anyway to make sure that I do NOT wind up with any specifically marked AS a “variant cover.”

I have a pull list for all the Valiant titles…but even there, I don’t want the pullbox variants. I want the cover that’s used with general marketing; I want the cover that is shown in the “next issue” box or page, and I want the cover that is shown on the back of that month’s issues’ covers as a “checklist.”

I also like the consistency that USUALLY comes from sticking to the standard covers. I like my issues to look like they belong together. I don’t want “naked covers” with just an image (how do you tell what issue it is months or years later going back through a collection or trying to ID it in a longbox at the shop?) or fancy logo placement or stuff like that. I’m paying full price for the issue, so don’t “short” me on the colors, or give me an incomplete pencils-only cover or such. That sticks out like a sore thumb! If you want to show off pencils or black and white…make it the back cover or an inside cover or page!

I liked the way Devil’s Due handled early issues of their GI Joe series–you’d get a “bonus image” as the back cover of an issue. Often it seemed this “back cover image” would be SWAPPED for a 2nd print/variant…and I didn’t really have much of an issue with that.

Or back in 1995 (yeah, almost 18 years ago!) I remember some of the Age of Apocalypse 2nd printings having a faded out image with some of the background to draw more attention to the main character(s) or something to that effect–but the back cover was the original cover.

To a certain degree, I also don’t have as much problem with 2nd/3rd/etc. print variants in general; it’s a new edition, a new printing, so…can’t argue too much. I’m even more forgiving when there’s only some color alterations–maybe a white background’s black, or blue, or red; or maybe the cover’s logo changes color–this comes in handy for identifying a different printing at a glance (Superman #75 from 1992 with a green “Superman” logo is the 4th print, for example).

Below: a larger look at 21 covers for only 5 different issues of the current Batman title from DC: captured via screenshots as I read the digital issues.

toomanycoversbatman13to17

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