I started collecting comic books in the early 1990’s, a boom period for the industry. Comic companies were selling millions of comics to eager readers and were orchestrating bigger and bolder marketing resources to these sales. Multi-part crossovers between comics made massive financial demands on readers’ attentions. Superstar creators were given free reign. Perhaps most interestingly, the use of “gimmick” covers to goose comic sales became the norm.
Gimmick covers were a huge part of my initial time collecting comic books. It’s a trick the book publishing industry often employs to get casual book browsers interested in a cover. I particularly remember how every V.C. Andrews’ book seemed to have some kind of die-cut design, begging to be picked up off the shelves and investigated.
In 1992, I was eleven years old and easily impressed… but even so, my interest in these goofy variants did not last long.
I’m going to take a couple of days out of my thrift store finding to look at these gimmicks. Why were they employed? Did they have anything to do with the story? Do they stand the test of time? To be clear, I won’t be going too in-depth with the actual content of these books. By and large, I’m simply going to be judging these books by their covers. As an English teacher, I’m somewhat loathe to do that… but c’mon. These comics are BEGGING to be prejudged!
Today we’ll be looking at Guardians of the Galaxy #39, written by Michael Gallagher with art from Kevin West.