Multiple covers around the same printed comic pages. They are a little piece of hell that comic readers and collectors either tolerate or celebrate depending on the how’s and why’s of your comic buying habit. There are a number of trains of thought about the benefits or lack thereof.
They do allow, under the best of circumstances, for publishers, creators and retailers to put a few extra badly needed dollars in their pockets.
First, a quick caveat before I start assigning blame. As the publisher at Malibu Comics, I absolutely employed this marketing gimmick a number of times to “encourage” sales on behalf of the company and the creators who would also benefit from additional sales. Guilty as charged.
If I have my history correct (and please feel free to correct me if you feel it is necessary), the first time this “technique” was employed in comics was 1989 with the release of Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #1. The decision to put the multiple covers on this book almost assuredly came during some kind of meeting between Bob Wayne and Bruce Bristow at DC Comics. But I don’t blame them.
If you look at it under a slightly skewed kaleidoscope (like I do), Frank Miller is to blame. Yeah, that’s right, you read that correctly, I blame Frank Miller … well sort of. How is that possible? He didn’t write it or draw it. He didn’t even do the cover art. Let me explain.
The circumstances were these. Legends of the Dark Knight was a Batman concept book. The idea was to get top-notch creative teams to create four-issue story arcs on a new continuing series that wasn’t tied tightly to regular Batman continuity. This would free creators to tell a wider variety of stories and also lend themselves to replicate the success of Frank Miller’s run on Batman #404-407, (better known as Batman: Year One) which became a super successful trade paperback in 1988.