It was IDW who started it, with a Godzilla launch in 2011. The idea that retailers could commission their own exclusive cover of a regularly released comic book if they ordered a very large amount, which they could sell for a premium or use as a promotional device for the store.
And it has certainly helped sales – it put Harley Quinn #1 over All-Star Batman #1 by dint of having more retailers sign up to a Harley Quinn exclusive. And, with Suicide Squad #1 really helped DC Comics in their marketshare figures against Marvel in August.
It can be a lot more work for publisher, printer and distributor alike. But it can make a massive difference to sales – in the short term at least.
Image Comics has banned them, stating that the extra work does not justify any bump in long term sales – simply there isn’t one, and it becomes a distraction.
But as August’s stats reveal, that distraction can really juice those numbers.
We’ve seen all the retailer exclusive covers for Champions #1, which – along with the Scholastic Book Fair exclusive variant will see sales of over 400,000.
Text up for Marvel is the launch of the new Invincible Iron Man #1, featuring Iron Heart in the lead.
But it is being followed up by more retailer exclusives from Marvel than ever before.
- Avengers #1
- Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1
- Venom #1
- Ghost Rider #1
- Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
- The Unworthy Thor #1
- Thanos #1
Could this be part of the Marvel marketshare fightback? For the first time with Champions #1, Marvel have been using the retailer covers to promote themselves. Expect that to continue…