Tag Archives: Variant comics

Variant Comics from then ’till now – Part 7!

by Hal Hickey

In this multi-part series on the history of variant comics, we are exploring series of variants that collectors are likely to find, albeit some being much more difficult than others, depending on the rarity of those series. I have stayed away from the “one-off” variants of which there are many but most are rare. Part 1 and part 2 explored the first series, the “price variant comics”. In part 3, part 4 and part 5, we dug into the second series, the “printing variant comics”, covering second printings, third printings and so on. In part 6 we discovered the “alternate publisher” variants, namely the “Whitman” and “Modern Comics” variants.

In this, part 7, we will begin to cover the last series of variant comics, which is the most prolific in sheer volume today and continues to play a major role in how comic books are marketed. The introduction of these variants was part of a series of events that nearly destroyed the comic book industry. This final series are the “variant covers”. In their early years they were referred to, somewhat non-affectionately as “gimmicky covers” or “chase covers”. These were introduced specifically targeting the many completist comic collectors, especially Marvel Comics collectors, who existed at the time. But I wouldn’t be doing this final series of variants justice without spending some time with the story behind what spurned variant comic book covers.

It all started with Baseball cards, yes that’s right, baseball cards. Continue reading

Variant Comics from then ’till now – Part 5!

by Hal Hickey

In part 1 and part 2 of this series covering the history variant comic books, we covered the series of “price variant” comics. In part 3 we discovered a few rare second printings from the mid 1960s, where 1-2 years separated the first and second printings. In part 4 we explored two key events that began to set the framework of where we find ourselves today. In today’s part 5 we will look at the last key event that turned the tide and was the final piece that changed second and subsequent printings from a rarity to commonplace.

The first two events (covered in part 4) were:

1. The rise of the independent publishers
2. The change from newsstand distribution to the direct market.

The third and most influential event to affect second and subsequent printings, was a decision first taken by Marvel Comics in late 2001. It was this decision that has changed the landscape in not only the numbers of second, third and subsequent printings but also the collectability of those “non-first” prints.

Marvel Comics as a publisher began to notice that retailers were ordering smaller quantities of each issue as initial orders, then re-ordering more copies as sales and demand warranted. Marvel saw this as the direct market comic retailers attempting to transfer more of the risk of unsold comics back to the publisher. So in late 2001, Marvel Comics decided to limit their print runs to actual initial order numbers from retailers, plus a small percentage to cover damages. This was a move to ensure the risk of unsold copies remained, where the publisher wanted it, with the direct market comic retailer. Continue reading

Variant Comics from then ‘till now – part 3!

by Hal Hickey

In Part 1, we explored the first series of variant comics, the price variants. In part 2, we looked at what hooked collectors on finding those rare comic price variants, some 50 years after the original price variants were printed. There is one last category of price variant comics and that is the “Canadian Newsstand” or “Pence” (UK Newsstand) price variants. There has been considerable debate whether these are in fact variants, or just comics that were produced in other countries, which naturally carried a price in that foreign country’s currency. The view on the “Canadian Newsstand” and “Pence” price variants is beginning to sway to the view that these in fact are actual comic price variants. The reason being is that these comic books were produced and printed side-by-side with the regular priced versions in the United States for sales in either Canada or the UK. These are now being considered price variants and their print numbers are in the 10% or less range when compared to their US priced regular priced comics. The majority of these price variants were printed from the mid-late 1980s, but there are earlier instances of Canadian newsstand price variant comics printed by Gold Key.

Here is an example of the regular version and it’s Canadian Newsstand price variant with one of the rare Charlton variants! Continue reading

New Variant comics added Jun 20, 2014

Here is what’s new at the online comic store today:

We’ve uncovered some hard to find variant comics which have been added to the online comic shop today. Most of these are only single copies as they are highly collectible comics:

Check’em out