By Todd Allen
It was quietly announced to retailers yesterday that Marvel will be changing the all their $2.99 titles to the “self-cover” format, starting in April. “Self-cover” meaning that the paper of the cover is the same as the paper of the internal pages. Truth be told, this sounds like a bigger change than it is.
Marvel has been printing the insides of their comics on glossy paper for awhile now. The cover is just a slightly heavier stock than the interior. Further, it was pointed out to me that Marvel has already been experimenting with this format. Fantastic Four and FF have both been printed in that format, with practically nobody noticing. I compared the feel of the “self-covers” to “normal covers.” Yes, there was a small difference to the touch, but I likely wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t already been pointed out to me. I could not tell any difference by looking at the covers.
I was further told that Image had been doing this for some time. I handled a couple Image books and, sure enough, it was the case and it was not something I had previously noticed.
If Vertigo went to “self-cover,” this would have more consumer impact, as Vertigo isn’t on glossy paper. I’m not sure how many people will notice this on shelves.
The real story here is Marvel going back for another round of cost-cutting. There have been layoffs. Pages have previously been reduced. Now the cover stock has been reduced. If trends don’t reverse themselves, it isn’t unreasonable to wonder if a downgrading of interior paper stock will be next. Marvel has been very aggressive about cutting costs in the last year and seems to have a lot invested in the success of Avengers Vs. X-Men.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.