Subject #8: Exclusive Variants
This week rather than characters and debating cases for first appearances I’d like to talk about something a little different… For me anyways, “Exclusive Variants”. With all the different Harley Quinn #1 exclusive store variant covers it's time to step back and reevaluate what going on.
When it comes to all these variants the first question you should probably ask yourself, how “exclusive” is a book with a print run greater than 1000 copies? If you have 30 different store variants, multiplied by 3000 copies each, all first printing… Does it really matter that each is limited to 3000 copies? I like variants. I'll pay a little extra for a cool cover featuring a character I like, or work by an artist I follow. So I'm not knocking it.
These retail stores would have been way better off pooling resources and working together, doing shared variants. Keep it going for multiple issues. So one guy does a variant and splits it for issue #1. The next guy does it for issue #2, rinse and repeat. Space it out rather than flood the market all at once. That was a nice thing about Spider-Gwen vol 1. and Secret Wars variants. Sure there were a bunch for issue one, but there were also a few store exclusives for the later issues. It wasn't all at once, there was some variety of artist and characters featured, collectors had options.
I'll admit, I like DC's rebirth model of the two retail covers. Not too crazy about the ones shots followed by another issue #1 but what are you going to do. They can't please everyone. Speaking of not pleasing everyone, Aspen and Legacy caught a lot of heat for changing the print runs on the Harley Quinn #1. I think the companies Facebook PR trying to control the spin made things a lot worst in both cases.
I do think there’s a certain amount of responsibility we must take on as the market. When we collective gobble up thousands of copies of a variant cover within 24 hours or less. Do we think the website/store/publisher isn’t going to notice that? When some people turn around and put them online for 4 times what was paid as a pre sale, do you think the stores/website/publisher is not aware of that? We should assume they are and will adjust accordingly. Wouldn't you?
There’s always going to be a push pull with investing in store/event/artist direct exclusives. You have to buy in at a low pre sale and pray they sell out, so you can get a return on your investment. In many cases the mark-up is so high, the store can always dump them if they don't sell out. Store variants are not costing anywhere close to 15 bucks apiece. These “Exclusive” variants could start at $10 and the original sellers would still make money. When you see what’s happening on eBay, it's hard to blame them for wanting some of that action. Why not choke out the secondary market and take all the money for themselves. I don’t like it, but I completely understand the logic.
Personally, I try to avoid variants with higher than a $12 buy in. I don’t always stick to that rule, obviously, there’s always an exception… Or two.. Or Four. If you’re speculating on these “Exclusives”, you might want to consider something like that. Research what these books really cost and how much it has been marked up. Give yourself a budget or threshold for what you're willing to pay. You may not always get the book you want at the price you want, on the other hand you won't be mad that you over-paid for it either.
We all love comics, well most of us. We all love money, who doesn’t. When you find a way to combine those two things it’s hard not to become completely immersed and lose sight… Don’t let that happen to you. This a hobby first and should be fun. The lure of easy money can blind us into making bad investments. When comic collecting stops being fun, that when it’s time to step back and reevaluate. I love chasing down cool covers too, but the cool factor is always going to be off-set by the cost… At least for me. In my opinion $30 plus for a single issue variant isn't fun, it's obnoxious.
After the Aspen and Legacy’s respective fiascos, Crossovers, Gimmicks and Variant Fatigue. I’m about ready for another separation from my abusive comic relationship.
Till next week, believe none of what you hear and only half of what you read…