Sunday, September 30, 2012 3:37:07 PM
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Printing in Canada began in the 1980s, when publishers wanted to offer comics with better printing (printed on different types of presses). If there was ever a case in which the same issue was printed both in Canada and in the U.S., I am not aware of it. This particular comic appears (from the scan) to be a "Sparta book," meaning it was printed in Sparta, Illinois at World Color Press (the Wolverine mini-series was also printed at Sparta). World Color was the printing company used by DC, Marvel, Archie (I think), Harvey (I think), and perhaps others (but not Charlton) for standard-format comics beginning in the 1950s (for DC and perhaps others; Marvel didn't move to WCP until around 1968) until about 1992 (when DC marked the end of its relationship with WCP by publishing a series of DC Silver Age Classic reprints, originals of which had been printed by WCP).
Beginning in the late 1970s, DC and Marvel started distributing some comics through channels other than the traditional newsstand distribution channel. Apparently in order to prevent retailer fraud on distributors, or distributor fraud on publishers, comics destined for the non-traditional outlets (e.g., department stores) were printed with cover markings different from comics destined for traditional newsstand outlets. Marvel's Star Wars is a series that was widely distributed through both traditional and non-traditional channels, and it is easy to find cover variations in early issues of this series.
Also in the 1970s, retail outlets specializing in comic books were becoming a market force. The distribution system serving these retailers was known as direct-sales distribution (not a 100% accurate term, but the system did eliminate one layer of distributors, as compared to newsstand distribution). But whereas newsstand distribution permitted retailers to stock comics at no risk to the retailer (unsold comics could be returned for credit), direct-sales comics were sold to retailers without returnability, but at a higher pre-sales discount. At first, comics distributed to direct-sales shops were indistinguishable from newsstand-distributed comics. But by 1979, Marvel started marking comics meant for direct-sales shops differently from comics meant for newsstand distribution; this prevented direct-sales retailers from fraudulently returning their over-orders through newsstand distributors. DC followed suit in 1980. So (at dates unknown to me) did Archie, Harvey, and Charlton.
In ComicReaderBatman's post originating this thread, the topmost cover scan is of a comic distributed via the traditional newsstand channel, and the second scan is a comic distributed via the direct-sales channel.
Personally (as I have written elsewhere on CCL), I find direct-sales Marvels from this time period to be ugly. Aesthetically, I find the diamond-shaped box holding the month, number and price to be far less appealing than the two boxes holding the same information on the newsstand version. And while the UPC barcode was not an appealing addition to comics covers in 1976, it at least served the purpose of continuing comics' viability in a retail world moving toward electronically scanned prices. Direct-sales outlets in 1979 didn't need the barcode, so Marvel chose to remove it. But while Marvel could have made direct-sales comics preferable to newsstand comics by eliminating the barcode area completely, they chose to save the minuscule amount of money that would have been required to re-make all four printing plates (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), by deciding instead to re-make only one plate (black). As a result, almost all direct-sales Marvels from 1979 till 1993 are marred by pointless black-and-white rectangles holding useless content.
While most comics back-issue dealers are not inclined to specify whether their offerings are direct-sales or newsstand comics, there are certainly collectors (including me) who prefer one type over the other. Any assertion that neither version is worth more than the other is largely untested by the current market. For a contrary assertion, you can look up the Spectacular Spider-Man issue at Mile High Comics' web site (where it is listed, inexplicably, as Peter Parker). For a more striking price difference, check listings at that site for X-Men (1991) #100.
Sunday, September 30, 2012 3:50:59 PM
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Yeah. 'Cause Mile High will NEVER try to rip someone off. They're a bastion of intelligent pricing.
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One thing I have not seen mentioned in this topic, though it absolutely must be true:
Join the store on FACEBOOK!
The BARCODED comics must be RARER than the DIRECT PRINT versions, because for one thing only, the bar-coded variant was able to be returned after destroying the cover and returning the torn off part for credit.
We should also assume that those books whose covers were torn off, would then have the rest of the book tossed in the recycle bins or trash, and that's why we do not see tons of "cover torn" comics out there in collections.
On the reverse side, many of the Direct Print books today have NEWSSTAND variants out there, but usually just with a different price. I discovered a WITCHBLADE comic in my collection one day and had several copies of the direct version, but only 1 newsstand version.
Go check your own collections and see if you find those NEWSSTAND copies there. Much rarer!
* All items must be returned prior to refund at your expense. Return shipping not refunded.