A few years ago I walked into a comic shop – one of the worst shops I visit (and with that glowing review I’ll just leave that statement there without identifying the place) where the whole place smells like smoke and the books are severely over-priced. Why do I visit there? Well, they usually have a better selection that the other stores in that particular area. What can you do? Well, I was looking for a certain issue and the man asked back “Do you want the direct edition or are you looking for the newsstand variant?”
I was taken aback a bit as I had yet to hear this description used. When I asked what the “newsstand variant” was he said “It’s the same cover but instead of the little box on the bottom having a superhero it has a barcode” This also left me shook as I had seen many, many of these kind of issues that, for years, were not looked at as any different than the other kind. I decided to do a little digging (on ebay) and sure enough I saw a few sellers listing books as “Newsstand Variant” and asking for a slightly higher price than the direct edition. This left me completely baffled because, well, let’s be real honest. It’s all bullshit.
Yeah, you heard that right, it’s all bullshit. It’s ridiculous! This is collectors trying desperately to cling to something that is abundant but fooling themselves into thinking that it is a rare gem. You want to know how I can claim that it is all bullshit? Well, easy. See, people are looking for these issues because they (wrongly) believe they are rarer – but they look EXACTLY the same as the regular cover except one small difference – the “stoopid” barcode on the bottom. Well, there’s also another thing you will see these days – on the new release rack, in fact: Second Printings.
Second printings used to have completely new covers – sometimes they were the best panel in the book used for the new cover which I loved – but these days second printings look no different then the first printing covers – except one little thing. The color of the title is changed and it says “second printing” somewhere on the cover. I like these issues and I usually snag one when I see it. I’m not sure why but I just like them. These “variants” are actually rarer than the regular covers – we know this because they keep really good records these days of what is selling so we know how many have been produced.
Keep in mind, we have no idea how many newsstand “variants” exist because they didn’t keep great records of how many were sold and then returned. Because of this mystery people have now decided these issues are worth more – even though they are easily obtainable and practically everywhere. People are paying higher prices for these covers because they BELIEVE they are rare – yet when I went into a comic shop one week and asked about a second printing that was supposed to be released that day the owner responded with “I didn’t order any of those. They aren’t very popular”
That’s right. Second printings don’t sell very well – even though we KNOW they are extremely rare. The man behind the counter said it’s because the covers are practically identical to the first printings. Yet, newsstand variants are EXACTLY the same except for the pesky little barcode. So in essence, people are paying top prices for the tiny little barcode on the bottom of the cover. If that sounds silly to you, well then you’re not part of the problem and I congratulate you. If you’re reading this just after paying a premium price for a little barcode on a cover of a comic then, well… nice job wasting your money. Keep on trucking!