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September 01 2006

(SPOILER) Marvel announce variant cover for Astonishing X-Men #17. It's a black and white sketch version of the normal cover. Cynical sales move or a reward for the fans? Who knows. But at the end of the day, it is classic X-art.

Can I find it cynical and buy one and feel rewarded anyway?

Not that I feel cynical about it -- it's not as if Marvel is making anyone buy it. If you want both, go right ahead.
Its not cynical to feel that way Browncoat...the reward is inside those covers.

Besides, you can buy the trade paperback 30 minutes after the arc is finished. (now that's cynical! or is it just snarky? you decide)

Personally, I think variant covers are a waste of time. People pay big bucks for these brand new "rare" gems and nobody really knows how many were printed and how many are dumped on the market (or handed over to CGC through back channels for that matter). My thinking is, for example, some poor kid will spend 12 dollars for a comic they could have just purchased for 2.99 and invariably the kid expects a huge return on his or her "investment." History has shown that there are some truly rare variants that have increased in value (mostly printing errors or unintentional low distribution). But to sell these books as instant rarities irks me. Granted, as Browncoat said, I dont have to purchase them but I see the ripple effect it has on MY hobby.

For me, it has a very deja vous feel to it. "Got any Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters #1's? I'm looking for the Quesada sketch variant..."

And one more thing before I get off my soapbox, why cant they LOWER the grade of comic paper and put out a one dollar comicbook? They sell newspapers for half a buck and there is lots more paper than a comic. The content is more expensive? Nope. There's plenty of artists and writers out there that would love to do it for FREE -- just for the opportunity to work with a Marvel or DC or even Oni (the Oni reference is just for Joss). Tell me why it couldn't be done. Maybe if its really cheap and intended to be thrown away or given to someone else to read, it will actually be read instead of laminated in a bullet-proof, UV blocking case that will never see the light of day. Rant complete.
My thinking is, for example, some poor kid will spend 12 dollars for a comic they could have just purchased for 2.99 and invariably the kid expects a huge return on his or her "investment."

There's just one flaw with your argument. Kids don't read comics.

As for printing comics on cheaper paper. Sure, they could do that. They could do a lot of things. Marvel and DC seem reluctant to try anything new because they don't have to. They are the big two.
I'd be comfortable changing it from "some poor kid" to "some poor schlub"
I'd buy a variant cover if all the normal versions had already been sold. I think I've only bought one once and that was by mistake. I think IDW are really pushing it with their 5 different covers for every Angel issue they do.

why cant they LOWER the grade of comic paper and put out a one dollar comicbook?


I remember reading a comment by Warren Ellis where he said something along the lines of Marvel and DC were delibrately ignoring the success of Fell.
here's plenty of artists and writers out there that would love to do it for FREE -- just for the opportunity to work with a Marvel or DC or even Oni.

why should a comic author, penciller or inker have to work for free. They want to live of that. Maybe there would be a butcher working for free, but the others want money, maybe there's a guy who would make a tv-program for free, because he doesn't need to pay rent and lives from love and air. But there are others who have to afford things (like overpriced comics); and that's why every guy working on anything should get a fair amount of money. (and there should even be money left for people who don't follow a classic employment - what, can't I dream)

paper:
I love my thick paper tpb; they seem of good quality; and so one day my nephew or niece... and if comics would be expansive because of the paper, car leaflets would cost about 40 euros, and whedon's serenity guide about three times the price I bought it for.

and yeah, comics are expansive to overprized; but I think that's because of something called supply and demand and has to do with capitalism, or something like that.

[ edited by bookworm on 2006-09-01 12:15 ]
Fell is it's selling because it's just so good. Had he tried the $2 price point with a book that was crap I don't think it would have sold as well. Then again it's Warren Ellis so just having his name on the cover might have done the trick anyway.

Regardless I read the other "Fell format" book Casanova and I was not impressed. It was just too esoteric for my taste. So even at $2 I'm still not buying that one.

When it comes to variant covers in the case of IDW Angel comics (which is overkill.) I buy whichever cover I like the most or whichever one they have in stock. When it comes to reprints having different covers I only buy them if I missed the issue in the first place. I stoped "collecting" comics when I was 14, I just read them now. (They do still get laminated in a bullet-proof, UV blocking case when I'm done reading them though... partly out of habit, partly out of my desire to take care of any purchase I make.)
Actually, the idea that comic books are getting so expensive purely because of the fancy paper is a myth--sure, there's a connection, but it has more to do with the low print runs (compared to newspapers) and rising paychecks for creators, among other things.

Fell is cheaper because it has fewer pages, not because of cheaper paper. And, admittedly, because it's a creator-owned book, and Ellis and Templesmith are more free to make the book cheaper and gamble with their paycheck.

And while I personally hate variants and never buy them (unless they're variants of Serenity comics, in which case I apparently by everything in sight) I think it's unfair to point to the speculator market to bash them. I honestly doubt there are many true speculators left--most people who buy variants are just collectors who want to own the covers, rather than sell them on later. Also, there's actually fairly exact numbers available for variants, if you know where to look. Variants are always solicited with what percentage of the comic will be printed with it, and very accurate estimates of print runs are readily available on the web.

Personally, I see it like this: I'm both a collector and a reader, but for my collection, two entirely different comics are more valuable than two versions of the same book.

(Suggesting that comic creators should just work for free... I won't even start on that.)
My thinking is, for example, some poor kid will spend 12 dollars for a comic they could have just purchased for 2.99 and invariably the kid expects a huge return on his or her "investment."


There's just one flaw with your argument. Kids don't read comics.

As someone who works in a library, I respectfully disagree. We can't keep comics on the shelves in our children's departments. They are very popular.
Perhaps, it's not that kids don't read comics (and they do), it's that kids can't necessarily differentiate the investment costs between a 12 dollar "special variant cover" and a 2 dollar regular cover. they see the shiny appeal and they see the "cool" factor of it, but ultimately, if they are not aiming to collect, it might not be the kind of investment return they are hoping for once the comic stops printing.

Plus, certain times non-comic booky parents may not understand the value.
Ok first Lioness: Librarys will not have expensive variant copies of comics. They wont be donated to the library (at least not typically) and the library wouldnt purchase an expensive comic on their shelf when they could order a much much less expensive copy of the exact same content. Just like they wouldnt order a special gold leaf edition or Harry Potter or some other very expensive set.

Telltale and Bookworm: I never said comic professionals should work for free. I meant there are plenty of people that would love to have the opportunity to work with Marvel and so much so that they would do it for free. I, personally, would write a comic for marvel just to have my name on the cover. Thats just me but I know I cant be alone.

the question of paper is not my area of expertise. It seems a 50K print run is pretty big. Bigger than lots of news papers I imagine.

If you are happy paying high prices for glossy paper, they you should be thrilled with the current state of the comic world. If you would rather pay a buck for a comic and get 3 books instead of paying for one three dollar book, they you dont have any options. That is my point.

Id be curious to hear from a Marvel or DC exec on the paper cost issue as well as the actual print runs...and the quanitity reports that are available "somewhere" on the web. I think you can get sales or order figures but not accurate print runs. But like I said, I'm no expert just a comic lover.
As someone who works in a library, I respectfully disagree. We can't keep comics on the shelves in our children's departments. They are very popular.

I stand corrected. I checked out many graphic novels while I was a... gentleman of leisure. Libraries are doing a good job of introducing kids to appropriate comics.

[ edited by betwixt on 2006-09-01 22:45 ]
I meant there are plenty of people that would love to have the opportunity to work with Marvel and so much so that they would do it for free. I, personally, would write a comic for marvel just to have my name on the cover.
But all you'll get is a lousy internship where all the payment-dumping class traitors do their slave jobs. And that's a bigger problem than my glossy ptbs.

[ edited by bookworm on 2006-09-02 12:03 ]
Remember, too, that newspapers (and comics) aren't paid for by the pitance paid for them, they're paid for by advertisers. Comics have a smaller audience, and therefore, can't charge as much for advertising. Further, it's a niche, and fewer companies are targeting the specific demographics of comic book buyers.

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