Is the 52 different variety JLA book going to destroy comics? Probably not

For those with long memories, yesterday’s announcement of 52 different covers for next year’s JLA #1 book sounded some alarm bells. Despite slightly declining sales, comics seem to be doing well in multiple channels, even if much of the periodical growth is being fueled by variant covers. While by no means the most variant covers ever—IDW had 100 for a Godzilla issue and 55 for Mars Attacks—52 is still a lot, and it reminded a few people of 1992’s Death of Superman, a variant issue, multiple story-line event which marked the high tide mark of the Chromium Age, only to see artificially inflated sales plummet when the tide went out, leaving everyone stranded on the beach. It was the event which marked the beginning of the Dark Years of the 90s, when comics publishers lived in caves and huddled around a single candle as they printed comics by flashlight.

52 different varieties sounds like a lot—this isn’t catsup after all—but while most retailers we polled rolled their eyes at the initiative—and the PR that made it sound like the patriotic thing to do—they didn’t think it was sending comics over the fiscal cliff. For one thing, if you read the original story about the books closely, these are not going to be all different covers by 52 different artists, but rather, like IDW’s Godzilla promotion, simply new, state identified elements changing on each cover:

There will the initial “regular” cover of “Justice League of America” #1 — featuring an American flag — and then each of the variants will depict elements from each of the states. The sure-to-be collectible cover initiative will not be an “incentive” stunt for comic book retailers — every shop owner has the equal opportunity to buy every cover equally.

As Earth 2’s Carr D’Angelo put it, “These sound more like variations than variants, if that makes sense.

“I imagine most retailers will order their own state as the ‘regular edition, and neighboring states if they get shoppers from them,” D’Angelo continued. I was reading that as state flags or symbols instead of an American flag but the same foreground art of the team. 52 covers by different artists would be very difficult to order.”

This “State’s right” edition of JLA does sound a little weird —we wouldn’t know the flag of New York State if it slapped our butt and called us Pocahontas—but it does suggest that fans of Cali’s “Golden Bear” will need to special order.

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In fact, looking at the various state flags, there are some real stinkers in the bunch—Washington’s flag is a wobbly picture of George Washington? Really?

201211061220 Is the 52 different variety JLA book going to destroy comics? Probably not

Our prediction for the most popular variation? Oregon. Because it already has a variant flag! Or at least a front side and a back side, the latter of which includes a picture of an adorable beaver. And everyone loves adorable beavers.
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Comments

  1. That’s a lot of categories to file this story under.

  2. I never imagined them doing 52 distinct line items/product codes/series etc (55, with the “main” one, primary 1:25, and combo) — that’s sort a horse of a different color — I thought this would be like MARS ATTACKS where every 52 copies ordered would get you one full set.

    That’s going to generate a large amount of work to handle (example: “series” codes for titles are how subs are generated, but “justice” and “league” are common enough titles needed for searches that trying to sign up someone for “regular” JUSTICE LEAGUE after this would encounter two more screens of hits until I go scrub them out…) for just about zero gain of any kind for my store.

    -B

  3. Torsten Adair says:

    That’s Justitia and Liberty on the NY State Flag, Pokiebutt.
    (It’s very similar to Maine’s. Gals instead of guys, sun instead of pine tree.)

    (The city flag has the Mets colors with the city seal.)

    There is a variant (with stars), and a previous version in yellow.

    Will DC cover up the state motto?

    It ranks 52 out of 73 among U.S. and Canadian flags.
    (Nebraska ranks last. Omaha has a test pattern.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_New_York

  4. Oregon? Li’il old *us*? Aww, Heidi, ya shouldn’t have!

    Though as a native North Carolinia I must admit I am most looking forward to a cover featuring J’onn J’onzz flying over the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, a pulled pork sandwich in one green hand and a Cheerwine in the other.

  5. The Beat says:

    Aaron, what no moonpie!!!

  6. Pink Apocalypse says:

    Hey, who do you think you are to bag on our flag? Washington isn’t so bad that you’ve got to single…single us…us out for…for…

    Ah, screw it. You’re right.

  7. The Beat says:

    Pink, I didn’t even mention the sickly refrigerator green background.

  8. Al™ says:

    So which cover should we Canadians want? The one for our favourite American hockey team’s state?

  9. Torsten Adair says:

    Heh… Justice League of Canada.
    Flying Fox, uh… Centrix, um… Sparx, lessee… Dark Crow…

    Ah, forget it… if the Global Guardians can’t make a go of it, how could JLC?

    JLC… “The C-Team”! Bwa-ha-ha-ho-hum….

  10. Torsten Adair says:
  11. Saucy Jack says:

    Yeah, this isn’t terrible. If you’re a small store in Oklahoma, order the regular version and Oklahoma variant as you please and send it in.

  12. Ray Feighery says:

    Wow, so you felt the need to specifically insult the Washington Flag and you live in NY !?! Of course, you freely admit you didn’t even know what the NY Flag looked liked (You SHOULD, no excuse there).
    sorry Heidi it shows an amazing level of Arrogance to specifically insult a segment of your readers (Not surprised, I expect it from New Yorkers).
    While NY Likes to think of itself as Progressive Washington truly is.

  13. James T says:

    Yup, I love me some adorable beaver.

  14. You know what’s written on the NY state flag? “Excelsior!”

    Actually, there’s no exclamation mark, but you can’t just say, “Excelsior.”

  15. Torsten Adair says:

    http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:Washington_Starbucks.png

    Geez… it’s a state flag. She insulted the flag’s design (ranked 47th out of 72 Canadian and American flags), not the citizens of the state. If Washington is truly progressive, then its citizens are well about the jingoism associated with symbols, and any perceived slights against same.

    Hopefully the passage of Initiative 502 will help Washingtonians mellow out.

  16. Ray feighery says:

    The point is it was unnecessary to single out ANY Flag but that seems to have escaped you.
    New York’s Flag is hideous but it means something to New Yorkers. Just as the Washington Flag, represents the Citizens of Washington and to disrespect it is to disrespect the populace and if you can’t see that then it certainly speaks volumes.
    If you make fun of yourself it’s self-deprecating. If someone else does it it’s mean.
    Claiming that you cant be progressive if you don’t have a Hipster attitude toward symbols is absurd.
    We’re plenty Mellow and don’t need Marijuana but you’ve probably had enough for both of us anyway.

    You really couldn’t think of anything more creative than putting a Starbucks Logo on the flag? Sad but oh so telling. Why not break out your Guy Fawkes Mask( licensed from Warner Bros Corporation) to protest Corporations!
    Oh and BTW Howard Schultz is a Pariah in Seattle (and a New Yorker to boot) So it’s also kind of dumb. :)

  17. The Beat says:

    Ray, I think it was some gentle humor. Most state flags include the state seal, which are sort of repetitive — to be honest, I couldn’t tell the difference between Jersey, York or Maine at 50 paces. As a child I dressed as George Washington all the time, so I was also poking fun at myself.

    My cousin Angus has the Maine state seal tattoo’d on his chest, though, so some people feel differently. Washington is a swell state, you can now have caffeine, oysters or weed.

    As our president said last night, we are the united STATES of America.

  18. Torsten, yes those are the provincial flags, alright. Canadians would know and recognize those flags, obviously.

    I’m just bringing up the notion of foreign sales. Keep them in mind.
    I doubt that comic publishers are going to print Canadian versions of the covers, which was my real point. So what covers are we going to buy? Maybe states where there are NHL hockey teams.

    Okay, maybe print some for the province of Ontario, with its large potential market of Toronto and Ottawa. But how many comic shops are in Saskatchewan, and how many copies would be sold? 25?
    It’s nonsense of course.

    This however has real potential for DIGITAL sales. Digital art changes literally take minutes, and there are no printing costs. You could do custom digital covers at the drop of a hat/stylus/cursor.
    Even for 5 people.

  19. Heidi, I have it on good authority that J’onn prefer Oreos to Moonpies, the Philistine. I am sort of holding out for a three-part arc in which Katana fights crime in a Biscuitville parking lot.

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