Wednesday, May 17, 2006

One in a Million

I’m a sucker for cool covers. I’ve bought my fair share of comic books just to have that cover in my collection. Heck, I have a full box of comics I’ve never read (the bulk of those featuring covers by Frank Cho or Adam Hughes). I don’t care that I never read them. I’m not buying them for the stories; I’m buying them for the glorious art that graces the cover.

Even with my addiction to cool covers, I’ve managed to distance myself from the variant craze that’s once again sweeping the comic industry. I’ve picked up a few second prints with sketch covers and the like, and I’m forced to pick the cover I like when a book has more than one cover to choose from. But those don’t really count. These books aren’t produced in limited quantities, and for the most part, they don’t demand higher prices on the secondary market.

No, what I’m talking about are those incentive covers and other rarities. You know, the ones store owners receive if they order 25, 50, 100, or more of a particular issue. I’ve stayed away from these things for several reasons. First, the prices are just crazy. Spending $25 or more for a comic that just came out is ridiculous. Second, most of the covers don’t do anything for me. I’m amazed at how often the variant cover looks worse than the mass-produced version.

I’ll admit to buying one variant. I picked up a copy of the Joe Jusko variant for Captain America 8, but that was strictly to ensure I had every issue in the Ed Brubaker run on the title (of course, since that time I decided to skip the anniversary special, so that excuse went right out the window). Yes, I was a sucker. It’s not particularly rare, it was costly, and let’s face it, it doesn’t look nearly as cool as the covers Steve Epting has been producing. But hey, it made the collector in me happy to say I still had a complete set, so I’m cool with it.

Now, however, I’ve fallen for Red Sonja again. While I was able to stay my hand when it came to the $3 copy of the Tan cover for Red Sonja 6, I’m wondering if I’ll have the same will power for the upcoming Joseph Michael Linsner variant for issue 13. I’m not sure how rare the cover will be, but you can bet it won’t cost $3.

I could handle paying a little extra for a rare cover I really like, as long as it happens infrequently, and as long as I found one in minty fresh condition. I just don’t want to make a habit out of it. If it’s a one time deal, then cool. Consider it a present to the collector in me. But the sickening part is that I’ve been doing research (if you can call searching eBay research) on other variants, research that has landed more than one variant on my watch list.

How does a guy go from considering a Linsner variant that hasn’t been published yet to thinking about picking up past variants from the same title? It makes no sense. Sure, I like those other covers too, but what I’m really doing is laying the ground work to completing a set. If I plan to get the Linsner, why not get all the others too so I can have every one of ‘em?

The interesting thing about my “research” is that I’m proving that buying variants is definitely not a good investment (or rather, since I don’t “invest” in comics, these aren’t a good value). In reality, it’s a waiting game. The longer you wait, the cheaper these issues are. It’s a trap. My brain wants to buy one because of their rarity and potential value, but the fact that they’re selling for less and less should be a red flag, right? Well, it’s not. Instead, I’m salivating at all the bargains. Look at how cheap I can get these really rare comics. D’oh!

What is wrong with me? I took logic class in college, and believe me, there’s not a shred of logic in my argument. What’s worse, it’s the rarity issue that’s driving me out of the football card market. In that arena, sports card values aren’t so much based on the player anymore, they’re based on the rarity of the item. Some Aaron Rodgers rookie cards are going for over $600, and he’s never started an NFL game. It’s ludicrous.

So why am I thinking about diving into this? Oh, that’s right, because of the gorgeous cover, right? But c’mon, look at it. Sure, it’s nice, but is it that special? Red Sonja is half naked, which is a huge selling point, but I have a box of comics with a half naked girl on the cover and they weren’t that expensive. Is this one worth the headache and extra dollars?

So which is it? Is it the cover or the rarity that’s making me consider variants for the first time? Whichever reason I go with, it’s not a valid excuse.


Chris Partin said...

Dude! I've been picking up variant covers of Red Sonja since it started. I haven't jumped into getting anything over $10 which leaves out any RRP cover, but most of those are negative versions of existing covers. Who needs those? LOL.

Linser's cover for #13? That's a tough one for me, too.

James W. Powell said...

Chris, how much are you paying for these bad boys? Do you get 'em online or at the LCS?

Chris Partin said...

Like I said before, if I can't get it for less than $10 I don't get it. I've gotten most from my LCS as soon as they are released.

I've been a little slack over the last couple of issues and only bought one cover. I've had to cut back on my "extra" spending, but once that's dealt with - oh, boy!

And thanks for putting up that cover of #13. I hadn't seen it. Linser's awesome!

Rich said...

Man, I can't believe we've all fallen for the same trap...I wish I kept track of how much I paid for some of these variants. I feel a blog coming on about this myself!