Variant Discourse Should Be Good

Based on some early estimates and the claims of Mr. Millar, it seems that Marvel sold close to (if nor more than) 300,000 copies of Civil War #3 in the month of July and that number will almost certainly go several thousand more copies north once reorders are taken into account. I've offered my own cynical thoughts about these numbers in the past (here and here) but a couple weeks ago Brian Cronin laid it all out in much clearer terms over at Comics Should Be Good. I've seen quite a few retailers discuss the boon that these variant covers present, specifically the Civil War variants. I've also seen the speculator mentality take hold in a few of our customers when they discover how much some of these variants are going for online.

Thankfully, there's quite a bit of rational discussion in the comments of the CSBG post that points of the danger of chasing variants like this for both collectors and retailers. As I've said many times, our industry must be focused on growing sales and readership through slow, healthy improvement rather than chasing easy money that leads straight to a boom (and the resulting bust). The Civil War sales figures are significantly inflated and I would love to see ever an estimate of sell through numbers on these. I'm of the opinion that the actual effect of Civil War can be a great step in the right direction, bringing in new readers and bringing back lapsed ones and think we would see exactly that if sell through figures were available. The danger, though, is to use the sell in numbers of Civil War as a new benchmark of success, rather than seeing through the fog generated by the inflated egos of Mr. Millar and company to the much smaller (and healthier) gains that the series actually provides.

The last thing we need is a market that uses the less than stable profits from variants (and the inflated sales numbers they finance) as a model moving forward.


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