Welcome to my new twice a month article, “The 5.” I’ll be going through five current and historical trends in the industry in a humorous article that hopefully doesn’t make you as angry as Disney buying out Marvel. I’m glad I decided to write this piece the same day that giant bombshell of a news article dropped.
I love flipping through back issues looking at Silver Age covers. It’s a lot of fun, it’s a little campy, and brings back some fond memories. Over the years, there have been some comic book cover trends that really stick in my mind. Some of these trends I can’t stand and some of them I sincerely enjoy. In no particular order, here are 5 cover trends that stick out the most.
1. Foil covers!
The “BUY ME NOW!” decade of the 90s brought us, and started, many different and equally annoying cover trends: Holograms, Variant covers, and foil
covers. First, the correct way to pronounce foil covers is “FOIL COVERS!” the same way you pronounce “ VARIANTS!” Yes, you have to yell, it’s only fair. Foil covers were a big hit over a decade ago. Heck, even Lobo had a couple. The hope for the companies was that the child would see the shiny, get giddy, and hope the parents would buy the shiny. Plus, the company would charge you an extra buck or two and make some decent revenue. Well guys, if you haven’t noticed yet, FOIL COVERS! are back! Ultimate Comics Avengers and Ultimate Comics Spiderman now have not only a foil cover, but it's a variant foil cover! So, of course you’re paying an extra buck or two for the book because of the foil, but because it’s a variant, tack on ten more dollars! SWEET!
Note: Please do not use your foil cover comics to reflect the sun and create some sort of death ray light laser. The comics are for reading only!
2. Someone is going to die!
I thought (no pun intended) this trend was dead and buried. Off the top of my head, I can name a couple of these. X-Men 2099 #3 (yes, I own the whole
run, deal with it) and GLA #?(After looking on the Vine, I can’t find the issue that says, “All of these characters will die!” I swear it exists, I own it) Anyways, I always laughed, as a teenager, at these covers. What an awful marketing ploy, but ingenious at the same time. “Let’s ruin the surprise ending on the cover, that’ll grab them in.” And you know what? It did. Case in point: I saw a little book on the shelf recently entitled “Teen Titans #74,” and laughed. The cover said, “Another Titan Dies!” I then immediately picked it up to see who died, and being a person who NEVER reads Teen Titans, I had no clue what was going on and had no idea, or really cared who died. The ploy still worked though, and I’m sure we’ll see some more of this in the future.
3. Holding a dead body
There are so many of these covers. X-Men alone had like a billion of them. (Yes, a billion, many times more than actual X-Books produced, I did the
math. I’m not a liar.) DC was just as guilty, the most well known being the cover to Crisis on Infinite Earths. Well, now DC is back with people holding dead people yet again. I get it. Someone died and a loved one is holding them. To me, this repeating trend is exactly the same as “Someone is going to die!” without the mystery. So I tend to stay away, unless I’m already reading that book. In some of these covers, I call B.S. Why? Because sometimes said character on the cover is in no way shape or form strong enough to hold up the dead character. I demand 100% realistic covers and nothing more. (Unless they're shiny)
4. Marvel’s Weird Border Thingy
They did it during the 80s, I didn’t get it then, and I don’t get it now. This year, Marvel has been releasing these border thingy covers again, but this time
selling them as variants ranging from $6.99 to as much as $29.99. CHA-CHING! During the 80s, a bunch of these covers came out with the star of the book’s face in the center, and as a border, there would be other Marvel characters. Confused? Look at the picture and be more confused then. Now the trend is back I guess, and yes, it is Marvel’s big anniversary, but there seems to be no correlation between that and the weird border thingy variants. It confuses me, like trying to watch that third Matrix film. (Matrix Renovations?) Now, what’s the scariest part of the cover? All the characters in the border are staring at you like you’re doing something wrong. It’s my nightmare.
5. Photo Covers?
Speaking of nightmares… A couple weeks ago, a cover from a certain Booster Gold comic grasped my attention. On the cover of the book is G4’s Blair
Butler wearing a Booster Gold Fan Club t-shirt. Now, I’m not upset because it’s Blair Butler. I’m upset because I don’t want another wave of photo covers coming onto the scene. Marvel had a few in the late 70s (all of them intensely creepy), and every indy company had good looking women on their covers from the late 80s to mid 90s. Dark Horse and Dynamite occasionally still put out photo covers for the Buffy series and Battlestar Galactica. It just seems lazy to me. “Wanna hire an artist?” “Nah, just get that model in a skimpy bikini and put a sword in her hand.” “But this is an issue Scooby Doo.” That’s how I imagine all the companies operate.
I know I missed some major ones in there. These are just the five that come to mind when I think about cover trends. (Besides Assistant Editor’s Month, man I love those) Are there any that you think I missed that should be a part of this? What are your favorite cover trends?