Are Covers Saving the Comic Book Industry?
Credit: 2 Warps to Neptune
I have always hated that timeless cliche "Don't judge a book by its cover". I mean even the kindest people are a little shallow. It's basic a human trait for us to be visually attracted to something, but the wise ones just look at it as a single criteria among many rather than the end all, be all. Comics is different though.
Here's the thing, and I may just speaking on my own behalf here but, who actually reads vintage comics from the single issue? I tried this once, with an issue from 1993 and it was difficult to read, and unpleasant to look at because of the fading of the pages. Then I tried with an issue from 1974 and it was way worse. Mind you that both were still in pretty good condition. Thats why I stopped reading single issues pre-1999 (about?), and just buy trade paperbacks if there is a story line I want to actually read.
So why am I still collecting single issues then? The covers. I know I said earlier that I might have been speaking for myself, but now the more I think about it I can't be alone here. In fact, when you get a comic graded it gets sealed so the only thing visible is the cover. At some point (during the Silver Age I guess) it was not unusual in comics to get a completely different artist just for the cover.
Needless to say, at some point the comic companies capitalized on it even further when "variant covers" became a thing. This reached a ridiculous point in 1999 when The Amazing Spiderman #666 was released with 145 variant covers.
A good number of artists exclusively do covers, for economic reasons mainly (1 cover will take less time to complete than one interior page and will pay out at the rate of several pages). Some do it to supplement their income while working on other projects that take longer.
The covers are clearly, but somewhat quietly, maintaining interest in comic books. I mean, fans make a big deal about covers, but I haven't read or heard anyone giving it credit as keeping the industry alive. Have you?