A lot of words came to mind after hearing about the recent “variant cover” stunt by BOOM! Studios.
And yes, asinine.
For those of you unfamiliar with the news, here’s the basic scoop: BOOM! Studios has a new comic coming out called Valen The Outcast. They printed a 1-in-200 variant cover for it, which means a store would have to order 200 copies of the book to get 1 copy of the variant.
Yes, welcome back to the dark ages of comics, circa 1993.
But wait, it gets better! The variant issue came pre-“slabbed” by the CGC (another wonderful practice that’s a blight on our industry) which means the book is sealed forever in a plastic case (or as the CGC calls it, “fitted inside an archival-quality interior well, which is then sealed within a transparent capsule”). As Bleeding Cool so succinctly put it, “this was a comic destined never to be read. They could have printed blank pages.”
Apparently 25 comic book stores were stupid enough to take BOOM! up on this fine offer. Which is where the story gets even better! To really drive home the “collectible” nature of this bullshit variant cover – you know, the one that nobody will ever open or read – the publisher burned the remaining 475 printed issues with the variant cover!
Here’s a video of them doing so, proudly. Bravo to the book’s writer, Michael Alan Nelson, for getting involved in this imbecilic stunt so cheerfully.
Seriously, guys? Did we not learn anything from the chromium embossed die-cut parchment nude variant cover excesses of the 90s that led to the speculator boom/bust that nearly dragged the entire industry down the drain? This is how you aim to promote your books in 2011? At a time when comics have finally emerged in the social consciousness as a respected medium, but at the same time its publishers are hemorrhaging readers, this is how you as a publisher choose to represent the industry?
But wait, there’s more! (I know, I can’t believe it either…it’s the story that keeps on giving, like explosive diarrhea.) Yes, this fantastic first issue, with the ultra rare 1-in-200 slabbed-and-burned variant cover…has 7 other variant covers as well. That’s right, seven more!
I don’t know what’s worse: crass, myopic stunts like this, or the fact that despite such fine publishing decisions, fans and retailers are all worked up over how digital comics will spell the doom of the industry.