Amazing Spider-Man #583 was released this week to a ton of hype, with people apparently lined up for an hour or more at some stores. At All New Comics we carried enough copies for customers and no more.
Why? Well, for starters we’re Canadian, and Obama isn’t our president.
Secondly, to be honest, we missed it. This wasn’t in the original solicitations for the comic, it was the third item in a supplemental solicitation email which was I usually totally ignore. If it wasn’t a slow news day that day, it probably would have got passed over anyway.
Third, and most important, the whole frenzy around this comic, and others such as the error printings of All Star Batman and Robin, Action Comics, and the whole variant cover phenomenon in general would be immoral of me as an advocate of comics to participate in.
Most people who are buying this comic are buying it out of curiousity. Good for them I say, that’s totally cool. What’s less cool are the folks who are buying this comic for an investment. It’s a 3.99 comic, in about a month it will probably shoot up to $10 or $20.00. In three months it will be worth about $7.50. One year? I’d say $5.00. Two years? Let’s be charitable and say $4.00.
In five years you’ll find this in everybody’s dollar bins.
People care RIGHT NOW, but I guarantee you that more than enough issues were printed to meet demand. I’d say the print run of this comic was probably around 200k, second and third printings will likely push that to about 300k. More than enough for demand. While there’s some short term interest, in the longer view this will dissappate and eventually vanish entirely.
I have a real hard time morally pushing something that I know in my heart of hearts won’t be worth the paper its printed on in a few months’ time.
The same holds true for the variant covers of comics.
While these have infinitely smaller print runs, in the end it’s a different wrapper on the same bunch of paper, does that make it that much more special?
We stopped carrying most variant covers about a year ago when it started getting out of control. We started realizing that not only were we perpetuating a system that neither of us believed in, but worse we were throwing away good money to be able to “qualify” for these incentives that half the time nobody wanted.
For example, we had 17 people who ordered Justice Society, this qualified us for 1 variant copy, but if we ordered just 3 more copies, we’d qualify for 2 variants…so what the heck, we’ll order those extra copies, and then get the 2 variants (which we also have to pay for), so now we’ve got 5 unsold copies of Justice Society. Crappy. With the margins being what they are for comics, we have to sell 3 copies to cover 1 extra, so we made a profit on 2 copies of Justice Society there. That’s UPWARDS of ninety cents! WHOO HOO!
Watching those variant editions plunge in value just confirmed that this was a bad idea.
In the end we decided that keeping to our “orders only” principles and working to bring new fans in with stuff that we could get behind was a better approach than hoping to catch the investors who wanted the “rare variants”.
This is my opinion, but I feel that comics were created as disposable entertainment. They should be read, and eventually discarded, not stored in hermetically sealed containers and locked in humidity controlled enviornments. That’s what you do with unique works of art, not mass produced printed media.
This is a lesson that my 3 year old daughter teaches me every time that she bends the cover back on her Looney Tunes comic and gets a laugh out of it, or when she asks if she can tear out the Tiny Titans poster in her Titans comic. Why not? That’s why they put the cut lines on the page right?
I’ve been working on a little piece about the future of comics that I’m going to post sometime this month…I think my predictions of the comics industry’s future will surprise those who know me as an owner of a comics shop, but you shouldn’t be…I’m a realist as well.