Corbit Wilkins of Captain Comics in Boise, Idaho saw our coverage of variant covers (see 'Variant Covers--Are They Back?'; 'Variant Covers -- Marvel's Gui Karyo'; 'Variant Covers -- DC's Bob Wayne'; 'Variant Covers -- Image's Erik Larsen'; and 'Variant Cover -- Dark Horse's Jeff Macey') and feels that there are more important factors that can affect sales:
I would just like to add a comment about the debate over whether variant covers may contribute to another market decline. I don't believe variant covers contribute to a decline. There are certain customers who enjoy the variants, and others who could care less. Variants alone won't affect the market. I feel that a market decline is caused by at least four important factors:
1) Poor Quality: The early 90's had more junk thrown at retailers and consumers than anyone wants to remember. As good writers and artists were strained on all of the new titles, and then moved around to other books, the quality in almost all comics went down. (Please don't let Bendis be the next casualty!)
2) Oversaturation: When a good book turned into a 'hit', Marvel and other companies would then try to take advantage of it by spinning off other books. Who really needed a Night Thrasher or Nova. New Warriors was fine by itself. The Deaths Head mini-series sold well... so they went ahead and made a full series as well as Death Metal and
Death Wreck. They were horrible!
3) Late Shipping: Books that continually shipped late caused havoc with retailers and their customers. How could any retailer order copies of #5 of something when we still haven't received #2 yet?
4) Absense of comics for young readers: For a few years, we couldn't order many titles that were aimed at kids. Books like Disney were gone, and it was tough to get the new kids interested in anything.
There are obviously many more reasons, but the accumulation of the above killed the market. When a store has 30 copies of a book left over, then management usually has to find a way to turn it over. And because every store in the country had extras of the 'junk books,' they had to dump them to try to get some of their money back. This in turn starts a cycle with the consumer. If the store owner doesn't want it, why should the consumer?
What worries me for the market today? Just compare the Marvel, D.C., and other companies Previews listings with their listings from one, two, or five years ago. I'll pick on Marvel just to make my point. I can't speak for other retailers, but who really wants to see District X? Captain America and Falcon? Amazing Fantasy? Spider-Man/Doc Ock mini's? Spider-Man Unlimited? Rogue? Excalibur? Starjammers? And on and on.
There are only a limited number of dollars to be spent on comics of the same type. All of these new offerings are only going to dilute the sales from other titles. And when the writing or art starts to fall off, then the consumer is completely disinterested. Especially when every new title is $2.99 or more! We don't need more X-Men titles, Spider-Man titles, or others. Just give us good books on time. Couldn't there just be a good story in Captain America that involved the Falcon for a series? Starjammers in an X-Men story or Doc Ock in Spider-Man? And if you want to reach new customers, then put the effort into new products that will entice them. Don't just put out more books of the same.
We're already knee-deep into the over-saturation again. We just don't know it yet. I'll bet a year from now every retailer will have plenty of extra copies of District X to go with the extras of The Truth, Hawkeye, Alpha Flight, etc. Hopefully, Marvel, D.C., and the others will realize this before it's too late.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back article are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.