Calum Johnston of Strange Adventures Comix & Curiosities in Halifax, Novia Scotia, saw our Preview of the next round of Marvel Cosplay Variants (see "Preview: Marvel 2016 Cosplay Variants"), and had comments.  He also sent an infographic he created to show what hoops retailers had to jump through to get the 17 Hip-Hop variant covers on a recent Marvel sell sheet for consumers.

Johnston also commented on Marvel’s cause variants, including the upcoming Prostate Cancer Awareness Month variants, on which we also heard from Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld in Santa Cruz, California (see "Joe Ferrara of Atlantis Fantasyworld on Marvel’s Prostate Cancer Awareness Month") and Robert Scott of Comickaze Comics, Books, and More in San Diego, California (see "Robert Scott of Comickaze Comics on Marvel's Prostate Cancer Awareness Month").

It would be helpful if you would just run through the basic who, what, where, when, why and how questions as they are not usually apparent.

How does one get these covers?  Are they able to be ordered on their own or do retailers need to order set amounts to qualify for 1 copy?  Are they mixed in with the regular covers on a 1-2 basis or the like, or some other Marvel Math permutation?

Like the hip-hop variants, these kinds of items get their images spread far and wide with only a nod to the retailers by way of "check with your local comic store" so the retailer can be the villain of the piece by explaining that some or all of these nifty covers that are getting attention may not be available at cover price due to the behind-the-scenes machinations put in place by the publisher.

Some mention of their limited availability should be made in the actual press release, but barring that, the media outlets running the pieces should also ask some questions regarding the information in the release. Basic who, what, where, when, why and how.

Click the Gallery below for blow-ups of this infographic.
I put this infographic on Marvel’s Hip-Hop variants together to bring some attention to the issue.  My preference is that when publishers are spouting media releases about pop culture covers, they should be open-order; that is to say that retailers can order them with no strings or hoops or math.

Speaking of covers, did ICv2 do a story on the Komen cancer covers Marvel did a few years back?  Did anyone ask Marvel why they did them?  What was the aim? How about the upcoming prostate cancer covers? What is the purpose?  If the covers showed a nervous Tony Stark, Peter Parker or Steve Rogers in their doctor's waiting room, it would at least be an encouragement to "act like a hero" and get checked.  As they are now, they're just more covers.  What's the point?

Click the Gallery below for blow-ups of Johnston's infographic on the Hip-Hop variants.

The opinions expressed in this Talk Back are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of

We did take a look at the August Previews and saw that Marvel alone had 132 incentive variants in that issue, including Cosplay, with various conditions that needed to be met to order them, so how variants are handled is a huge issue.  We're going to be more cognizant of ordering requirements for variants as we report on them in the future.