Hello. My name is Rob. I was one of those kids that helped to destroy comics in the 90’s. That felt good to get out. As a kid, I grew up with comics thanks to my uncles who were huge into them. They would sell me their long boxes of comics they no longer wanted. One even owned a comic book store (that I got to work at once when I was 12!). Thanks to them I had full access to incredible runs of stories and worlds created by some of the greatest writers in the medium. However, I was also a fucking stupid kid. Did I read those great stories by Chris Claremont or Alan Moore? Nope. I didn’t care about the story. Why would I? They didn’t have what kids my age craved. And what was that you ask? Action? Nope. Pathos? Nope. Social commentary? Fuck no. I craved those sweet, sweet, chromium and other variant covers.
The comic book industry realized that they could milk the market and dupe us stupid kids with infinite variant covers that would make these books worth millions and would allow us to retire at the sweet age of 21 with stupid amounts of money. Or not. Kids like me didn’t understand that what made comics valuable was the fact that there weren’t many copies in existence. And even less that were in mint condition. That’s what makes something collectible. Not a shiny cover.
Instead it just jacked up the prices of the books and instead of giving readers more story for their buck, they were treated with multiple covers so that “true collectors” would have to buy them all. They even just started re-releasing old stories mixed with 5 pages of new material that we ate up because of HOLOGRAMS!
It wasn’t just chromium and hologram covers that were all the rage, we were also treated to covers that YOU CREATE YOURSELF such as this cover from Superman: Man of Steel #30 . I mean, it’s a fucking Colorform cover for fuck’s sake.
And guess what? I ate it up. I spent all of my lunch money on these “comic books” that were nothing but a ploy from the comic manufacturers to sell more books. They didn’t care about the stagnation of the artform, they just wanted that dough. There were die-cut covers, lenticular covers, even scratch and sniff covers. And I sadly owned them all. I didn’t even read the books most of the time. I just bought them and then placed them in their bag to be opened in 20 years when I could buy a house with them.
Thankfully the trend slowed down near the end of the 90’s when people woke up and realized they were duped. That’s not to say there aren’t still variant covers today, but it’s nowhere near the saturation that happened in the late 80’s – mid 90’s. I still have stacks of these fucking books in a box in my closet. In fact the three books up above are all in one of my long boxes right now, bagged and boarded. So yes, blame me for ruining the industry in the 90’s. I don’t apologize for my stupidity but if I could go back in time I would slap my shit, hand my younger self Watchmen, and tell 12 year old Rob: “Read this, stop collecting pogs, and when you french kiss for the first time don’t lick the outside of her mouth. That’s not proper etiquette.”
Also, I may not have learned my lesson because when Robert Kirkman released this photo of the upcoming 100th issue of The Walking Dead, I got a tad excited:
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