When Marvel Comics launched their new publishing initiative “All-New, All-Different Marvel” they of course launched every book with a variant cover. Variants are a great way to allow fans to see artwork from a variety of artists and provide choice for fans. While the contents inside are the same the covers provide fans with alternate ways to get their books. Many of these covers though are scarce and only available to retailers who order comics at high levels. One variant theme proved more popular than the others and really got fans interested, the Hip-Hop Variants.
The Marvel Comics Hip-Hop variant line took the familiar Marvel characters and merged them into famous Hip-Hop music album covers. The demand for these covers was huge, but they were the epitome of scarce. Incentive based ordering made it tough for retailers to meet the demand with their supply. Announced on November 30, 2015, Marvel is going to offer some of these covers in a standalone issue available January 6 for free.
The “Hip-Hop Variant Sampler” will feature 14 of the Marvel Hip-Hop variants. Comic shops will have this available the first Wednesday of the New Year to anyone who wants one while supplies last. The sampler will feature artwork by Brian Stelfreeze, Jenny Frison, Mahmud Asrar, Vanessa Del Ray, among many others.
“The hip-hop variants were a really special initiative that caught fire in the outside world.We thought this was a great opportunity to highlight that and make it available to fans for free.” – Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said in speaking with the New York Times.
“The Hip-Hop Variant Sampler is our way of saying thank you to the fans, but also to the retailers who have made All-New, All-Different Marvel a massive success. With the Hip-Hop variant covers being such a huge draw, our goal is to draw fans back to their local comic shop after the holidays end.” – says Marvel SVP, Sales & Marketing David Gabriel in the Marvel press announcement.
Marvel may not have predicted how popular these covers would be when they originally released them, or maybe they just did not realize how hard the incentives were to hit. Some variant cover incentives are a huge dud with fans hardly looking for them, but others can prove quite popular. Usually this is due to a particular artist or character such as Deadpool being featured on each one. The sampler is a great way to allow fans to hold the art in their hands rather than just Google them and see them on the screen.
The Hip-Hop theme has been much discussed by those at Marvel. Some saw it as controversial others saw it as a great way to combine the two popular forms of entertainment. And it is always hard to predict which theme will be hot. In the past some variant themes such as Marvel publishing Lego versions of classic covers or using the then popular Super Hero Squad to were met with little uptick in the sales charts. But when DC Comics did a series of “Bombshell” variants sales for their books sales went through the roof, enough good publicity was generated so now there is a “Bombshell” series from DC Comics.
Does this mean Marvel will eventually do a Hip-Hop series featuring their characters? Probably not, but it may mean more “Hip-Hop Variants” are on the way. The “Hip-Hop Variant Sampler” is sure to be in demand so make sure your regular comic book retailer puts one aside from you or at least knows to order big on these.