Many a word has been written by Editors on the subject on variant covers, so I just wanted to touch on the subject and point you to some relevant articles that are worth a read.
“In comic books, a variant cover (sometimes variant edition) refers to an issue of a comic book printed with multiple covers, each with unique cover art. Variant covers became common during the “Speculator Boom” of the 1990s, when more collectors became interested in the storage and preservation of their comic books with the goal of future financial gain than reading the comics themselves.”
It seems at the moment that we could be creeping towards the 1990s again. With normal run of the mill comics releasing numerous different covers, they are not key issues, nothing special to do with the story.
Recently DC issued these “JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1 will have 52 variant covers. While the standard edition of the cover will feature the flag of the United States, this issue will also be available in 52 U.S. flag variant editions, one for each state plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico”
The recent Mars Attack had 54 variants of Issue 1 available in a box set.
I ask WHEN and not IF will we get a comic with 100 different covers?
Least we forget the convention exclusive, with a convention happening in the US pretty much every weekend, for a collector of a particular run it could add up to be very costly. Not only in having to attend said convention, but if they couldn’t, to then have to buy them from eBay at inflated prices.
We then have the Phantom Variants as well, then store variants.
So the available variant out there as follows
Variant Covers for normal issues, Cover A, Cover B, or named after the artist that drew the cover
Store Owned Variants
1 in 10, 1 in 25, 1 in 50, 1 in 100, 1 in 150 and ,1 in 200. Just amazed there is are not 1 in 500s or 1 in 1000s.
So far in the modern era I believe this is the rarest variant out there compared to print run.
Out of 383,612 Walking Dead 100s these were limited to 200. A 1 in 1918 comic. As just pointed out to me this was the total run of all walking dead issues ordered, which includes variants. So to find the real ratio of a variant and which in context in the rarest compared to print run you would have to work on the principle of 1st print sales non variant compared to variant sales.
For more on the subject read the below articles.
Rich Johnson from Bleeding Cool wrote a recent article, “Why Variants Are The Worst Thing To Happen To Comics”
Brian Hibbs from CBR touched on the subject “Don’t Shit Where You Eat”