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Joss Whedon - "Astonishing X-Men" Comic Book - Marvel’s marketing

Rick Shea

Saturday 22 May 2004, by Webmaster

RICK SHEA: A RETAILER LOOKS AT VARIANTS

Rick Shea is the manger of Famous Faces & Funnies in Melbourne, Florida. As such, he’s seen the ups and downs of comics from the retailer’s perspective for the past ten years. He and Famous Faces have weathered some pretty rough storms in the industry, but with variants in their...er, various permutations cropping up again, he got a weird sense of déjà vu as well as a feeling that the snowball is starting to roll down the hill.

With that in mind, Shea tackled the variant controversy head on. Grab a cup of caffiene, lean back and get ready for some math.

Lately we’ve seen the variant cover trend making a big comeback from Marvel, DC, Top Cow and more. It appears to be back in full swing and only getting crazier. Some fans and retailers love variant covers and think they’re great for the industry; whereas others despise them and think fans supporting variant covers by buying two copies of the same book just to get a different cover should be spending those few extra bucks on trying out another book that could use the support.

To get a feel of the passions behind the arguments, both pro and con, how about this - a controversy over variants went on for a whopping five pages at this article posted on April 23rd - including a few comments from Joe Quesada himself:

I hear you - everyone does them. Yes and no. There are different methods to the respective madness of Marvel and DC.

True, DC now does variant covers for some of their big books, they usually offer them at a 50/50 split. That means for every 100 copies of Superman/Batman # 10 that just shipped, 50 were by regular artist Michael Turner and the other 50 were by DC’s other artistic big gun, Jim Lee. That ratio means it shouldn’t be too hard to get either cover, even if one is slightly more sought after than the other. An often argued point to this is that because the second cover is widely available, more people are likely to buy both covers, which in turn will "skew" sales numbers for that month, both at each individual store and on a national level. For example, I’m more likely to sell an extra 50 copies each of Superman/Batman # 10 or next week’s Superman # 205, because a percentage of my customers (and customers nationwide) will bit the bullet and pick up both covers. But then, the following issue without the variant will be expected to go back to normal sales figures for those titles.

And - laying the blame, if you see it that way, where it deserves to be laid: the recent variant trend may have kicked off with DC adding variant covers to their three biggest hits of the last year. These were the first issues of Superman/Batman and Teen Titans, as well as the last issue of the best-selling “Hush” storyarc in Batman # 619. From there, they added additional "pencil sketch" or brand new covers to additional printings of these titles. After sales and interest in these titles spiked, the temptation was clearly there to pave the way for more variant covers.

In contrast to DC, Marvel chooses to make variants based upon different ordering plateaus set up for dealers. Some recent examples on the way include the first recent variant interior in Ultimate Spider-Man # 54 featuring a few pages of "ArachnoMan" instead of Spider-Man starring in the movie based on Spidey’s exploits that was originally going to run until they got approval to include the likenesses of the Tobey Maguire and Sam Raimi. The pages were already drawn and so they’ve decided to run this variant issue as an incentive to boost orders on Amazing Fantasy # 1.

How does it work? It’s all math (and don’t think I don’t hear you in the back who think comic book retailers barely passed English, let alone math - ha, ha.) - and it can get kind of complicated. Taking it slow then...

For every five copies a retailer orders of AF # 1, they can order one copy of the USM # 54 interior variant. In other words, if we order 25 copies of AF # 1, we can order (they’re not shipped automatically - you still have to ask for them) five copies of the USM variant. One hundred copies would let us order 20 copies of the USM variant and so on. It’s a 1:5 ratio.

Overall, the incentive on the USM variant isn’t anything too crazy, it’s just Marvel trying to give AF more shelf space as it’s a title they believe in and want more retailers and in turn, fans to support. It’s a noble ideal, and a promotion like this will insure that more copies of AF are on the stands and it will hopefully increase sales of future issues as well. I can understand that and don’t have as much of a problem with a five to one variant ratio as some of their other less accessible targets.

Here’s an even more complicated example for both variants of Astonishing X-Men # 1. Marvel’s first incentive cover for Astonishing X-Men # 1 means that I have to order in increments of ten copies of New X-Men: Academy X # 1 and three other books in order to get one copy of the Level One Astonishing X-Men variant, the full team image by John Cassaday.

I’ll give you the full numbers on the whole thing for my store, Famous Faces & Funnies in Melbourne, Florida. I know we’re a top 300 account in comics as we specialize in comic books and graphic novels more than 90% of the stores out there because we don’t deal with Role Playing Games, Collectible Card Games, Anime, and very little Manga. We really push the reader’s market and have an incredible variety on our shelves.

Keep in mind our top 25 or 50 sellers look nothing like your average store aside from these top few books. We sell about 150 copies per month of Teen Titans, 120 Supreme Power, 100 Y: The Last Man, 75 Negation War, but only about 50 Uncanny X-Men and 20 Transformers, 15 GI Joe, well below the national average for a store our size. About 80% of our business is comic books and GNs, and we push a pretty wild variety of books that we believe in, with a full money back guarantee on anything we recommend. That said, these numbers will look pretty close to the national average for a store our size, except for Uncanny and X-Men being a little lower than most stores. Here’s the orders for the related titles:

Original Order, Reordered for Variants, Grand Total

Superman/Batman # 10 - 175, 50, 225 total

Superman # 205 - 175, 50, 225 total

(I can quite possibly and probably will reorder these two DC books as I believe they will do a substantial overprint on their two top sellers. No one is going to get rich speculating on these books, or any of these comics for that matter. Comics are made to be read.)

Astonishing X-Men # 1 - 200, 250 more, 450 total

Uncanny X-Men # 444 - 90 , factored in original total, 90 total

X-Men # 157 - 70, factored in original total, 70

New Mutants # 13 - 25, — pre-relaunch — 25

New X-Men Academy X-Men # 1 - 50 (for variant) factored in original total, 50

Total copies of AXM # 1 level ONE variant we’ll receive after ordering 685 copies of these four X-titles: 5, that’s it. The relatively benign 1:5 ration has beefed up to a rather meaty 1:137, roughly.

Total copies of AXM # 1 level TWO variant we’ll receive after ordering 450 Astonishing X-Men # 1: 100, and 350 regular covers (I’ll get to this in a moment)

Total copies of AXM # 1 level TWO variant we would receive if we did order 350 AXM # 1: 50 VARIANTS and 300 regular covers

Total copies of AXM # 1 level TWO variant we would receive if we did order 400 AXM # 1: 75 VARIANTS and 325 regular covers and so on...

From there on the sky is the limit and we could order 500, 1000, a million copies, whatever, but at $2.99 each, that’s some expensive stuff. We’re doing well, but we’re not rich and don’t have an unlimited budget. Plus there are so many other good books out there that we can’t give AXM every bit of support we’ve got.

So - recapping: in order to get the level one AXM # 1 variant, we had to order in increments of ten each: AXM, UXM and X-Men, as well as the dark horse in that line, New X-Men: Academy X (NXAX), a retooled New Mutants title attempting to cash in on the hoopla of Reload and AXM.

Of course I increased my orders on all these titles because of the new creators and hype surrounding the titles. I’m seeing less interest than I expected in the second tier Superman titles, Action and Adventures, and the same has happened with most of the Reload first and second tier X-titles as well. After careful consideration, I cut my orders for the first Reload issues of Weapon X and District X as there are way too many X-books right now and only so much money to go around. I still sold much less than I thought I would. Once again, I did not cut my orders on these titles because of any of the recent variants, but because interest seems lower than originally anticipated, although I am sure some dealers will tell you otherwise.

I am willing to bet I have trouble selling 50 copies of NXAX # 1 because we were only selling about 22 copies of the title pre-relaunch. However, because I had already ordered so many of the other three, I did exactly what Marvel wanted me to do and ordered extra of this refocused X-book that is attempting to catch readers from the other books. Just like Amazing Fantasy, it will certainly guarantee more copies of #1 on the shelf, that’s for certain and time will tell if that helps the title pick up and keep new readers. We’ll offer our money back guarantee, but I’m not sure if it will really be something we’ll push, most likely not. I could order even more to get more of that rare variant, but I’d rather put that extra money towards other books I believe in more.

In order to qualify for the new second level AXM variant, I needed to beat my orders for Ultimate FF # 1 with my orders for AXM. Thing is, like many other retailers, I way overestimated demand on, UFF #1, and have many copies left (sorry to burst your bubble if you were hoping to buy a house in ten years by selling your copy).

A lot of retailers will not be able to beat this number either, as I believe UFF was the highest ordered Marvel title of last year. I made the mistake of ordering 250 copies when it featured the two biggest writers Marvel has (in addition to JMS, who is the man), thinking they’d be in it for the long haul and I’d sell a lot more down the road as new readers joined on and wanted back issues. These creators jumped ship after only six issues (although I’m a huge Warren Ellis fan, and really looking forward to his run, but that’s a whole other story), and so I’ll probably have to eventually blow out those extra copies of UFF # 1 on the cheap at some point. My bad, maybe I was greedy, maybe I just overestimated demand way too much, no big deal. We’re a bigger store, so something like that won’t kill us. It happens. I’m far from perfect and still make plenty of mistakes after managing the store for over a decade.

It’s going to be really hard to beat those UFF # 1 numbers just to get those extra variants, but because I already have people looking for them, I had to order enough copies to beat the order index number. Once the number is beaten, it’s harder to figure out how much extra we’ll sell the variants for to make our money back from the extra investment we’re putting out. I would lose a good amount of money putting these variants out at cover price, since I had to increase my order significantly to get these books. So I eventually decided on 450 copies, but that’s almost $1350 retail just on one book in an already crowded month.

If you’re starting to think that no retailer can sell the level one or level two AXM variants at anything near a cover price, you’re starting to see things like a retailer. Retailers have to spend more money in order by ordering more books that, let’s face it, may or may not sell, to get them. Retailers then, have to make up for the money they’re out on the books that either won’t sell yet they felt compelled to order to satisfy their customers and get the variant, or won’t sell at a velocity that’s helpful to continuing a month-to-month business. It’s hard to talk any retailer in that position into charging cover price.

I’ve spoken to a prominent figure in the comic industry that expected copies of the level one variant (NXAX tied in) to sell for between $35 and $50 right off the bat, because you have to order 40 copies (4 books x 10 each) to get one copy. Right now, it appears the level one variant is going for about $100.00 on Ebay and that’s before it’s even in stores. Others in the industry expect the second level variant (UFF tied in) to sell for about $10 to $20 depending on which hoops you had to jump through to get it, although Ebay activity on that has been slow as it appears a lot of dealers bought a bunch of copies of the level two variant. If you’re lucky enough to have a retailer that offered up little support for UFF # 1 and he can easily beat his order index number, you might even get a copy at cover price. Most likely that won’t happen though. Several of the bigger stores ordered so ridiculously high on UFF #1 that they cannot possibly beat that number with a $2.99 comic released the same month as not only so many other X-Men relaunches and retoolings, but now alongside the previously announced variants on Superman/Batman # 10 and Superman # 205.

But then again, the larger stores are, in general, the only ones who can achieve such order numbers to get a large quantity of these order-plateau variants.

The good news on the variant front is that every copy of both covers of S/B #10 and Superman #205 will sell for cover price and not a penny more, at least initially, because they ship in equal numbers. Although, and not letting DC get off the hook, compulsive fans will want both covers, which will boost sales. Retailers who realized this increased their orders accordingly.

On the Marvel side, the bad news is that an obsessive compulsive collector will have to shell out possibly as much as $100 for the level one cover of AXM # 1 and then as much as $10 to $20 for the level two cover, depending on where you get it. The irony is that Marvel will not see any extra money for these actual variants, but instead will see the money from the other books you have to buy to get those variants. So NXAX will be much higher on the sales charts that month (and that month only) than most retailers actually believe they can sell, thanks to the artificially inflated numbers. On the upside, I’m sure with this second variant that Marvel will indeed get that coveted number one spot edging out the tagteam of S/B #10 and Superman #205.

Here’s the burn - most people won’t pay the ridiculous prices for the variants, but the completists will indeed give an arm and a leg to get a copy, and that’s the part that I think could kill the industry. Someone spending up to $100 for a new comic when that could buy them 40 other great issues is a big waste of money. I won’t hold back saying that. There are more good comics out now than there have been in a long time, and I’d hate for those 40 issues not to sell so that someone can have that uber-incentive cover with the same story as the $2.99 comic. I feel the same way about the CGC garbage with grading and slabbing new comics at 9.8 and selling them for ridiculous prices. Another thing the industry can do without.

Yes, a similar argument can be made about the DC variants as well, as completists and perhaps even more casual fans will pick up both covers of the 50/50 split due to them being lower-priced. If someone is coming in to a shop, it’s pretty much a no-brainer that what’s best for the industry is for them to buy as many different comics as they can with the money they’re spending.

That said though, Joe Quesada says Marvel is forced by DC’s recent use of variants to respond in kind with variants of their own. However, he doesn’t think that an even split is the right way to go about things. He feels that the variants should really be a special incentive for the dealers that show their support, and for hard-core fanbase that is willing to pay the extra money to get that rare book. I have to disagree with him on the subject of 50/50 variants hurting the industry worse than these "incentive variants" that we have to jump through hoops to get copies of. Marvel is not the only guilty party, although they have pulled this stunt a bit more than DC.

Case in point, the Astonishing X-Men second variant (remember, to get this one, you have to raise your AXM orders above your UFF #1 orders) appears to be in response to DC attempting to grab the number one and two spots on May’s sales chart after DC’s best showing in the Top 25 in ages in March and April. In March, DC held ten of the top twenty spots last month, a well-deserved outstanding showing for them led by the # 1 bestseller Superman/Batman # 8 launching the Michael Turner Supergirl arc. And that was before the second printing or upcoming third printings are factored in.

DC wants to make sure that their two powerhouse artists right now, Jim Lee and Michael Turner can beat the highly anticipated Astonishing X-Men first issue by Joss Whedon, John Cassaday and Laura Depuy Martin, a true dream team. So DC started this variant war by adding variant covers in a 50/50 split by these artists on each other’s books. I’m not a huge fan of variant covers, but I certainly know those books will sell additional copies and I reordered a good amount more of each book just the other day.

Important Note: That does not mean that I cut my orders on Wildcats or Stormwatch or any other books to do it, it’s just extra money we’re putting out to make extra money. Especially because I did not have to factor this into my Previews order last month, I did not change my budget for these issues. It takes more money to make more money. These issues will sell for cover price. Some retailers will tell a different story. Each store is different.

But each store that buys into the variants is spending money on a gimmick. Yes, it will make us money - in the short run. But, going back to what I said earlier, what’s beeter for the industry, having one customer buy both covers of Superman/Batman #10, or one copy of Superman/Batman #10 and one copy of Sleeper, or any other of the dozens of high quailty, yet underappreciated books out there?

So - am I falling for this gimmick? Of course I am - I can’t turn down the extra demand that comes with extra covers. As a retailer, I have to order what I think I can sell. And I would not stand for this every month, but as a (hopefully rare) event on a limited story arc by each artist, arguably the two hottest artists in comics right now, and probably the two hottest books (right alongside Astonishing X-Men), I know there will be a great demand for both covers. If I didn’t order extras on these variant covers once they had been offered, I’d risk selling too many copies of both covers to some fans, and not having either cover left for those that just want any cover to read the story. That would be the really unfortunate situation in this whole variant controversy.

Unless I’m mistaken, Batman #619, after four covers was the best selling comic of 2003. However, that issue was the conclusion of a huge storyline that had everyone talking all year, so it wasn’t selling because of the covers alone. And I believe Ultimate FF was either the second or third best seller overall. That’s proof that variants by top notch artists do indeed help increase sales by a significant amount. I certainly don’t want to see this become the industry standard and I’m not a big fan of this, but I’ll play along as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

DC has gone through four printings of Teen Titans # 1 (and I could still sell a fifth) with four different covers total. Superman/Batman # 1 and now # 8 each sold through three printings with three different covers total, but a big portion of these sales also came from underestimated demand and the fact that these are big hit books rather than just the cover. I’m sure if a third rate title had a variant by a no-name artist, no one would even pay attention.

I know the thing I’m going to catch a ton of static on here about is why would I bother to support these gimmicks instead of ignoring them? It’s the same reason that Joe Quesada said he feels forced into making this additional AXM variant in the first place. DC raised the stakes by attempting to kidnap the number one and two spots on May’s sales charts and Quesada and Marvel had to prove that they could get as highly respected a creative team as we’re seeing on AXM the number one spot, so DC’s variants lead to Marvel’s variants. I would rather see no variants at all from any company, but once they are on the market, I’m forced to play into the same game and order them for my eager customers. I assure you May will have the three highest ordered books of the year so far, but those same books would have been in the same spots even without the variants.

I can’t turn down the demand for these variants even though I have to jump through ridiculous hoops to get them. If my customers really want them that bad and are willing to pay the insane prices for these books, then I’ll sell them for whatever the market value will be, so that they don’t have to travel another hour and change to find these books somewhere else for the same price. I’ve already seen Ebay and several online retailers with ridiculous amounts of these on there from retailers that went all out, most probably including a free copy (or two) of several of the other books you had to order to get these variants if you’re going to pay these crazy prices.

I actually don’t think I’ll sell that many in store, but do want to cover the few customers who are insistent about picking them up from us at market value. Luckily, most of these folks who have already asked me aren’t going to be forced to drop other titles to pick up these insanely priced variants. Unfortunately, a few of them will. And I’ll sell the rest on Ebay where I’ll compete against a ton of other retailers doing the same thing. I may be way off and there may end up being no market at all for these variants. I kind of hope that does happen and teaches us all a lesson, myself included, so that next time there’s another incentive variant, retailers just ignore it. Then maybe Marvel and DC will play fair and chill with the variants and incentives. Please don’t let this get too crazy.

These customers who have already asked about the variants are the few die-hard collectors I have who go all out to buy all the variants and whatnot. These days they are few and far between. I know this huge rant doesn’t sound like it, but my store pushes the readers market and not the collector’s market. That’s why I sell more Teen Titans, Supreme Power, and Y than your average store, because they are fantastic books that I fully support and offer our rarely used money back guarantee on. I’m getting these variants for those that asked for them and I do not want this variant trend to get out of hand again (as if it hasn’t already). So count me in on this scam, although this might be the last gimmick I fall for.

But I am absolutely calling out Quesada on his claim that someone having the option of buying a second cover available in equal distribution on S/B #10 or Superman #205 is going to be worse than someone shelling out up to $100 or even $10 to 20 for a different cover of a book that probably already would have been the best selling title that month. For a lot of customers that $10 or more towards their AXM variants will probably mean they’ll put back a few other books to get it, and those are the titles that are in trouble. Plus the drop-off between AXM # 1 and 2 will be almost 50% after all this variant madness.

And as far as smaller dealers being stuck with the lesser of the two superstar artists’ covers, DC is doing variants by Jim Lee and Michael Turner, probably the two biggest selling artists out right now. I think Jim Lee is an amazing artist and Michael Turner has a huge fanbase as evident by the upcoming third printing of S/B #8, his first issue on the title and the recent Superman: Godfall issues which only had covers by him. If a dealer sells out of his Lee variant cover of S/B #10, he shouldn’t have a problem selling the regular cover by Turner. Or he could always reorder ten more copies to get five more copies of the Jim Lee cover, not too crazy of an investment. That means he won’t be stuck with much. And that would be versus a few weeks ago when Turner was drawing the only cover available for the book. Now there’s a second option, you don’t have to buy both, but a lot of people will probably want both since it’s only an additional $2.95.

I do agree that stunts like this are indeed going to hurt smaller publishers, but less so than that 20th X-Men title or 10th Batman book draining their wallet and putting less actual variety on most shelves. I hate to say it, but a few years ago, a lot of our best sellers were indy books by smaller publishers, but the industry has seen a big shift towards the big two again. And this is from a retailer, rare as I may be, that sells 3 DC for every 2 Marvel comics. Marvel and DC combined producing over 150 issues per month between them is what’s killing the smaller publishers, not a variant here and there. There are literally too many books out there and the market can’t support that many titles. A lot of those newer books being launched won’t be around in six to eight months.

That’s about the end of my rant, and I’m sure that some will disagree, call me a hypocrite, or worse for going along with these gimmicks, but I have to adapt in this industry. I do wish there weren’t variants at all, or at least the "incentive variants," but once they were mentioned I already had a few customers calling and asking to make sure they get a copy of each. And at the end of the day, it’s my job to do my best to get my customers what they want. This goes out to DC as well, although Marvel is taking most of the flack in this example.

Stick to top notch creators on interesting characters and like April’s sales chart showed, Superman/Batman # 8 (without factoring in sales of the variant second or third print) was the best selling title by far because it featured a hot writer, a hot artist, and the long awaited return of a popular character. And pay attention Marvel, it wasn’t even an issue number one. Don’t overdo it with too many relaunches or new titles at once, it’s overkill, I tell you. And although Marvel might lose the coveted number one spot that they have held for so long, you don’t have to "sink to DC’s level" to meet their variants with one of your own on probably the most highly anticipated book of the year. AXM is going to sell a ton of copies either way, but now there’s the variant in the mix and it’s just going to get out of control. There’s going to be a lot of angry fans not wanting to pay the extra money to get their incentive variants and most will blame their comic retailer for being greedy even though he has to order all these extra copies to get the variants.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice... not gonna happen. Please call a truce on these Variant Wars before all the Stormwatch, Wildcats, Runaways, and Sentinels are gone. The comic industry barely survived and finally recovered from the cesspool of the nineties and no one wants to see a return to all the gimmicks and whatnot. Please keep supporting quality creators on quality books and the market will continue to improve at a slow but steady pace. I’m selling more comics than ever before and getting new readers hooked every day. Please don’t make me regret it.

A user by the name of Strike offered up the genius idea of giving away free comics with the AXM variant. I have several copies of the level two variant and will gladly give a free copy or copies of underrated titles Runaways, Gotham Central, Pulse, Sleeper, Negation or Y: The Last Man to anyone who picks up the probably $10 variant on the condition that they read the book and let me know if they enjoyed it and might be interested in continuing the series. This way, I don’t feel so bad about "overcharging" for the variants as I try to make our money back for all the extra copies we had to order to get them. And if the fans don’t dig their free books, at least they tried them, right? Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Remember, back in the day, X-Men itself was canceled for a while due to low sales, even after goingto reprints so they didn’t have to pay for new material, all pre-Giant Size X-Men # 1 of course, but because more people gave it a chance or second chance, it’s been the biggest franchise in comics for the last twenty years, too big, but I’m rambling. Point is, Sleeper Season Two could be the next huge thing if enough people try it, you never know. Strike’s idea is to get more of these under-ordered gems in the hands of fans who haven’t tried them yet and I think that’s a great concept. I hate the idea of someone paying $10 or more for only 22 pages of content and getting nothing else.

Now here’s an idea I can get behind. In an interesting tidbit that might not have been made very public on a similar note to this topic, DC has made Identity Crisis # 1 an amazing 50% returnable if we order quantities equal to or higher than Batman # 618 (which was our best selling book at 175 or so copies that month). Even though Identity Crisis is a $3.95 40 page comic (almost twice the price of the lowest retail price on some of the big books), we were going to order 200 copies even before the incentive was announced as a huge portion of my customers are incredibly excited about this. So that means I might bump it the extra 50 copies or so, knowing I can return up to 125 if they don’t sell for whatever reason. At max, I think I may only return those extra 50 if that. It proves DC is so impressed by this book that they know you’ll sell the extra copies if you take the risk and can return up to 50% of the copies for full credit if you can’t sell them within a month.

Well that - and it gives them another powerhouse top ten showing that month for a book that was already going to be big, could potentially be the # 1 highest ordered book in June if more dealers take advantage of this offer. The only thing slowing it down is that hefty price tag, but I believe you’ll get your money’s worth out of this book. Now that DC has tasted a bigger piece of the pie at the top of the charts, it’s only increased their now ravenous appetite for more! Like zombies they’ve become, but y’know, from my standpoint, pretty cool zombies.

I think I might order 250, push the hell out of it, (if it’s good, which I don’t think will be a problem) and then really emphasize our money back guarantee on this book to even the most die-hard Marvel Zombie or others who haven’t read much DC lately. Should be wild. This should be a huge hit for DC and probably will be. Although they may be "playing dirtier" to give this book a little boost by making it partially returnable, I doubt very much that returnable aspect will cause problems at DC as I think a lot of dealers will still under order this title even with all the hype. I wonder if there will be a black and white Michael Turner variant second printing if the first print sells out, which probably won’t happen because of the massive print run.

DC does indeed have another variant lined up for the last issue of Turner’s S/B run. Issue #13 shipping in August will feature two different covers both by Turner.

I really really don’t want to see this become a regular thing.

I’m interested to see what other fans and retailers’ opinions are on the "Variant Wars" going on right now. Is this a problem in your store? Do you prefer the 50/50 split or the incentive covers? Would you rather see no variants at all?


1 Message

  • > Marvel’s marketing of ’Astonishing X-Men’

    23 May 2004 15:21, by Anonymous

    This guy has totally hit the nail on the head. As a general rule I don’t order Marvel titles unless I like the writer. Which means that I order maybe one or two of their books at most. But their decision with the variants is just preposterous.

    How can anyone justify shelling out $100 for a title which has no redeeming feature except for the fact that it has a variant cover. It’s ridiculous. DC definitely has the better idea of a 50/50 split, plus they use two of the hottest artists ever. Cassady may be good but he’s nowhere in the league of Lee or Turner. Plus these guys sell books based on their art alone. When you team them with a superb writer, which is what DC has done, then you have a book which will probably retain its value if not increase it.

    Whedon is an unknown quantity. He’s only ever written one book before and that was plagued by delays and inconsistencies. There is no way in hell that I as a collector would shell out such an exorbitant amount of money for something which may get canned within 12 months or which most likely won’t retain its collection value. That kind of money I reserve for writers who can actually write. People like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, JMS etc. Not some TV hack.

    Marvel should get a clue and try and entice its readers into buying other lesser known titles instead of trying to swindle them out of their hard earned cash.