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Tilting #225: Cover Design 101

Brian Hibbs

Like always, it is at Comic Book Resources.

How does your store rack?


13 Responses to “ Tilting #225: Cover Design 101 ”

  1. Nice article! I’m one of the lucky stores that racks everything fully face-out, and sometimes people can still miss things due to other visual design factors.

    This week, for example people keep not seeing X-Men #3, due to the logo being 2 colors. They could see the “Men” quite easily when scanning the racks, but the bigger, dark purple “X” on a darker background was easy to miss.

    Heh. While writing this post, I paused to ring up a customer who was picking up issues #2-5 of Savage Wolverine. I had to double-check them to see that they weren’t all the same issue, since the cover designs were SO similar to each other.

    Every time someone picks up a new release comic and asks, “Do I have this one already?” the cover design has failed.

  2. […] Hibbs’ website, there’s a smart comment from another retailer who provides some additional examples and […]

  3. I don’t think my shop (Full Cover Table for first week, LR-Overlap for older) even ordered “Day Men”. But even if they had, I think I still would have missed it.

    And I was looking for it.

    Sorry, Boom. Maybe next series.

  4. “Every time someone picks up a new release comic and asks, “Do I have this one already?” the cover design has failed.”

    That’s true to a certain degree, e.g. the very similar early Jemas era hero shot covers, but I think it also depends on the importance someone is placing on their purchases. Early on when a child or someone new to comics pores over every detail and savors it repeatedly, covers (all covers) will be more vivid than any covers of books they might be buying ten or twenty or thirty years later.

    Even books which have striking cover designs that stand out from the crowd, such as Manhattan Projects or Hawkeye, tend to be blend together from issue to issue.

    Of course in the world of digital sales, where covers are usually only as big as thumbnails, their design matters somewhat less. You can see the same thing with movie posters being replaced by generically photoshopped versions.

  5. Yeah, as one gets older you get less obsessed with comics. As more stuff happens in life you can forget what the last issue it was you bought on things. I have the same issue with trades even. Do I already have this Eisner GN? I’ve been getting them slowly over the years I’ll forget if I already have Minor Miracles or some other book.

  6. A proper display area for new comics has pretty much been the deciding factor the few times that I’ve had to choose a new, regular store. I would find your waterfall rack distracting and off-putting, and imagine that it would make it easy for me to leave the store without some of the stuff that I would have wanted to buy each week.

    At the store where I do shop, they manage to display the top half of each new comic each week, and the full cover for trades and OGNs. When comics have covers like the Revival one you cite, they put a small hand-written card behind the comic with its title, which does obscure a little of the book above it.

    Having been to your store about four years ago, I left with the impression that most of your business is in trades, and you’ve done a great job of grouping them and displaying them for the customers that would come looking for them.

  7. “Now, I have certainly been in stores that have the space (or thinness of stock) to display every title as full cover, but I believe that such stores are by far the minority.”

    My experience is a little different I can’t remember the last time I went in a store that didn’t display full cover. There about half a dozen stores near me and all of them display full cover.

    That said interesting article and agree with the points although personally I find the far more detrimental are the boring ‘pin-up covers’ and covers by not done by the artists books.
    I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been excited by the cover art only to find the inside is in a totally different style and rather rubbish.

    And then there are those variant covers that confuse the hell out of me, I’ve nearly bought the same book on a few occasions!

  8. Great great article!

  9. ‘I had to double-check them to see that they weren’t all the same issue, ‘

    When I collect my standing order due to double shipping the sales bod often mistakenly thinks I’ve got duplicate copies due the covers being so similar!!

  10. I know this is only on-topic in the sense that it’s a question about comic covers & retailing, but Mr. Hibbs, I have been wondering what your take was on DC’s handling of this Villains Month 3D cover-allocation fiasco.

  11. Something very very close to “*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*”

    How the HELL do I order the 2-D covers without only having ~96 hours to collect data from customers as to what they actually want?

    It’s incredibly insane that DC didn’t announce both version and that one COULD be allocated at the original solicitation.


  12. I agree, sir. And if they fill remaining orders w/ non 3D covers, as Didio suggested they would, would Diamond make those non-3D covers returnable?

  13. I go to Comics Factory in Pasadena – they rack everything fully face-out, but only have the space to do this by not having all the new releases right at the front of the store next to the register. Instead, titles are spread throughout the store in stable location (large publishers on one wall, alphabetical by franchise – so all the Transformers titles are grouped together), smaller publishers on another wall, again alphabetical by franchise. They have markers to indicate if a book was just released this week, another set to indicate that the book was released the week prior. They also have a few high-profile books that are racked in a second location right at the register – again, fully face-out.

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