A picture tells a thousand words. Those thousand words are a rant from me if the picture in question is a comic book cover. While admiration can be given to some covers for their artistic prowess (or a funny catch-phrase emblazoned on the front), there are multiple quirks that make me shiver in fury at the realization that these covers are nothing more than quick cash-grabs for creators. The culprits: variants, "Care-Thee-Not" covers, artistic impressments and false advertising.
I'm not against the beauty many variant covers exhibit. I'm against the idea of variant covers in general. A variant cover is exactly the same as its original comic counterpart, just with a different cover. This steals money out of comic buyer's pockets for more than the usual $2.99. It's especially shameful to see the same cover as a variant, simply in black-and-white (or as the pitiful cover above, blue-and-white). I didn't know whether to be appalled or sob when I found out the first issue of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had thirteen variant covers (because of course, we need a cover for each turtle, a group shot, another group shot, the same group shot in black-and-white, a completely white cover which is where they completely stopped trying...).
I lovingly dub these horrendous covers "Care-Thee-Not" covers. These are the covers that artists should have called in sick to avoid creating. Covers where the artist gave up trying and simply sent the first draft of his thinking in for publication. The best are covers by the infamous comic book artist Rob Liefeld, like the Captain America cover above. He has a knack for drawing every character on the cover with grossly disproportioned bodies. And is that... a head coming out of Captain America's leg? There are several categories for the "Care-the-Not Covers," including:
Shiny: Covers with a special sheen to wow readers, but that also create a glare making the cover impossible to view. This was a big tactic used during the 90s' to try and up comic book sales.
Clear: Several artists did not even attempt to mimic effort and just had a single color as a cover with no picture whatsoever.
Two-Page Spread: These covers can't just hog the cover page of the comic, they also have to infringe on the back. Making the reader open the comic up to view the full cover can lead to beautiful imagery, but it will always be marred by that pesky comic's spine.
You can't judge a comic book by it's cover. This is almost law for comic books. Rarely is the interior of the comic drawn by the same person who did the cover, meaning you'll be getting 24-some pages of artwork from someone other than the cover artist. Enjoy the violently picturesque cover of All-Star Western while you can – the inside has little more to offer artistically other than disappointment.
"We can't possibly escape this one!" "Yeah. Good thing this doesn't happen in the story." – Robin #64
The worst and most nonsensical cover problem is covers that advertise something that will not happen in the comic. And this is exploited by nearly every cover in comics. The entire focus is rarely on what the cover shows the reader. The epic battle portrayed on the cover? You'll never see it until the final page ruining any surprising plot-twist the comic could have conjured up. Comic book collectors and admirers beware.
Comic book covers are deceitful blood-suckers that want nothing more than extra cash for an idyllic picture that usually has nothing to do with what you're really buying the comic for: Good old-fashioned butt-kicking.
An all-around nerdette, I’m a comic book connoisseur, horror aficionado, video game addict, anime enthusiast and an aspiring novelist/comic book writer. I am the head of the comic book department and the editor-in-chief of Entertainment Fuse. I also write and edit articles for Comic Frontline. I am also an intern at Action Lab Entertainment, a comic book publisher at which I edit comic book scripts, help work on images in solicitations and help with other comic book related project. My own personal website is comicmaven.com.