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Cover Price Variant Comics: Naturally Appealing

Cover Price Variant Comics pictures
Left Column: Regular; Right: Price Variant
Of all the different types of comic book variants to try to explain to people, cover price variant comics produce an almost-immediate "got it!" because they are so simple: when the cover price on certain copies is different from the rest of the print run, that very clearly makes those copies different from the rest. Nobody in their right mind can pretend they are the same, when they carry different cover prices.

It is the kind of difference between two comics that hits you right in the wallet, because the initial cost of the cover price variant was different from the cost of the regular copy. That's a difference which is very easy for people to grasp.

When you have two different comics and all that physically varies between them is the cover price box, "Cover Price Variant" is a natural and easy concept. It is also a difference that is very easy to spot, even for a novice collector (can you spot the higher cover price variant in each of the pairs at right? Of course you can!).

Our hobby has a long history of embracing cover price variants as sought-after collectibles. Two of the most well-known "categories" of highly-collectible cover price variant comics are "Type 1 Price Variants" and "Type 1A Price Variants" as defined below:

Cover price variant comics definitions: Type 1 and Type 1A.  By Jon McClure; published in Overstreet Price Guide #40, page 1011, and updated in #49, page 177.  Type 1 Variants: Cover Price Test Market Variants with regional or otherwise limited distribution, published simultaneously with standard or 'regular' editions.  Such variants exist because publishers want to test the market prior to raising prices.  The indicia and all aspects of the book, except for the cover price, are identical to regular editions.  Type 1A Variants:  Cover Price Variants intended for foreign distribution with limited regional distribution, published simultaneously with standard or 'regular' editions.  In the majority of cases, the indicia and all aspects of the book are identical to regular U.S. editions except for the cover price.  In some instances other alterations may be present.  These may include missing or different cover dates, regional indicia details and variant company logos.  Other minor alterations may also be present.

Examples of Type 1 cover price variant comics include 30¢ variants and 35¢ variants from the 1970's. These had a distribution area restricted to certain "test market" areas.

Cover price variant comics example: X-Men #100
X-Men #100, 30¢ Cover Price Variant (Marvel Comics)

Cover price variant comics example: Star Wars #1
Star Wars #1, 35¢ Cover Price Variant (Marvel Comics)

Examples of Type 1A cover price variants include 75¢ variants and 95¢ variants from the 1980's. These had a distribution area restricted to Canadian newsstands.

Cover price variant comics example: Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #320
Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #320 75¢ Cover Price Variant (Archie Comics)

Cover price variant comics example: Batman #366
Batman #366 95¢ Cover Price Variant (DC Comics)

With their distribution "naturally" restricted (not artificially restricted like some modern day 1:whatever retailer incentive variants), Type 1/1A cover price variant comics have a natural appeal given their clear rarity characteristics. Although Canadian Price Variants may be the most well-followed of the Type 1A family of price variants (and the subject of the Canadian Price Variant Comics Price Guide), there are actually two other classes of Type 1A price variants as well: Australian Price Variants and U.K. Price Variants.

Cover Price Variant Comics: Late Modern Newsstand Comics

Another interesting situation of cover price variance is sometimes observed among certain comics of the later modern age, where there exist both direct edition and newsstand versions of a given issue and the newsstand version is a cover price variant of the issue number. Examples include $2.99 cover price variants and $3.99 cover price variants.

In these cases, instead of the cover price variant having a distribution "area" defined geographically (like with the Type 1 variants being restricted to test markets and Type 1A variants being restricted to a particular country like Canada), the cover price variant was restricted by distribution channel, being available only through the newsstand distribution channel (if the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics is new to you, see this introductory article: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference).

Cover price variant comics example: Venom/Deadpool What If #1
Venom/Deadpool: What If? #1 $3.99 Cover Price Variant (Marvel Comics)

Other Variant Types

There are many other types of comic book variants as well (including Cover Price Reverse Variants) beyond those mentioned in this introductory look, and for more information we recommend reading A History of Publisher Experimentation and Variant Comic Books, by Jon McClure. Additional articles about Canadian Price Variants can be found in the cpvpriceguide.com Market Reports & Articles section.

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The information within CPVPriceGuide.com is presented on a best-efforts basis, but none of the included information is guaranteed to be free of error and therefore you should use this guide only as one tool among your comics research tool-belt, and you should verify information with other sources before acting. Please read the full methodology & guide usage information. Our latest price guide edition of our comprehensive guide to Canadian Price Variant comics is the 2020 edition, published November 2019.