There is a variant cover craze gripping the comic book industry at the moment, so it's about time we talked it.
For the last few years the world of comics has been gripped in a bit of a craze. Geeks, nerds and comic buffs have become obsessed with variant covers, the baseball bubble gum cards of the industry. Variant covers are alternative covers for certain comic book issues which often showcase art from another artist or are part of a series of pieces inspired by other bits of pop culture. In the last few years there have been Lego variant covers, war time pin-up ‘bombshell‘ covers and even a series of covers based on famous hip-hop album covers. These covers are a lot of fun and can make a set of collected comics look more connected and interesting, but this also leads to the dark side of the variant cover craze. It plays into the nature of fandom.
In some cases, the reason people get into comic books is due to a need for escapism, whether it’s from physical, emotional or psychological pain. This means there is a large part of the fan base with obsessive tendencies on some level, and variant cover exploit this. A lot of comic fans will buy a single variant cover and then find themselves obligated to buy the entire set of variants for completion sake. That being said, there can be other benefits for collecting variants, most full sets of variant covers fetch far more than any collector would pay for them on the shelves. In some cases variant collections, or even rare single variants, can be worth incredible amounts of money. So, should you get into collecting variant covers?
It’s difficult to decide whether or not to get into variant collecting. My advice is, if you wouldn’t normally buy a comic book and you are only buying it for it’s variant then maybe reconsider, it’s just not worth buying a book for a single piece of art. However, if you would buy the comics anyway, and you can make them all look like a better connected set, then why not? It will make your comic book collection more valuable and, ultimately, more of an treasure for the future to either pass on or sell. Before you rush out to stores and buy a complete set of variants I do also have to give you a warning, they probably won’t have everything you want.
I went to Forbidden Planet in Manchester earlier this week to pick up my normal comic stack. I’m currently collecting the Hip-Hop variants that Marvel have produced alongside their All-New All-Different line up. Unfortunately Manchester’s Forbidden Planet didn’t have any of the variants I wanted. This meant I had to buy the normal version of the books to read and order the variants online. I did a bit of digging on the subject and found out that many variants will only go to stores who order huge amounts of certain comics so it may be worth ordering certain books from internet stores. Alternatively, you could just buy the regular version and stop funding one of the most unnecessary and ridiculous aspects of the mainstream industry, but you won’t, you already have your eye on that Spider-Man 2099 Hip-Hop variant don’t you? It’s okay, that’s how they got me too.