Bug Week, Part Four: Marvel Sketch Cover Madness, Other Pricey Variants, Spider-Gwen, and Frank Cho!
That’s clearly an adult Gwen Stacy, by the way, so back off Mr. Rodriguez.
It is @#$%ing hard to draw like Frank Cho. Even not trying to emulate his ball point pen style stipple inking, getting the kinds of lines that he puts on paper, the basic layout of form that he uses…it is a huge challenge. I’ve wanted to homage his controversial Spider-Gwen image for a while, because I have felt, for ages, that Gwen Stacy was the superior character in the Spider-Man storyline, and by far the better love interest. Peter’s College Girlfriend, she had a good deal to commend her beside her beauty…she was smart, challenging, and interesting. She had her own millieu as a character, apart from Peter’s life, but entwined with it.
That said…Mr. Cho’s illustration was controversial since it referenced the infamous Milo Manara “Spider-Woman” variant, which the internet lost it’s mind over. See, Spider-Woman was in the same pose as Gwen is above, and it was pretty universally decided that this was overtly sexualizing the character. some fair points were made about that, and I even did a few posts about the furor over the Manara cover, and the Cho parody.
I chickened out for a long time on attempting to do a version of the Cho cover…which he sold for a thousand dollars, and donated to a women centered charity. However, events of the past week, and a review of my JMS “Amazing Spider-Man” run convinced me to give an homage to Mr. Cho a try. Why? Let’s do a comparison of the art for the variant above, sans logos, to “Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2, No. 30.”…
Spidey is in the same pose as the Manara image, and today’s art. Spidey crawls around like that all the time, and no one cares. I actually have a pin that I wear on my hat, of Spider-Man in that position. I am not objectifying him, Marvel merchandised him to me that way in the 90’s. The JMS cover is from the 2000’s.
That comparison/revelation made me think that perhaps spider-people, regardless of gender, pretty much crawl around rooftops and so forth in a similar manner. It’s part and parcel of “does whatever a spider can,” and very much appropriate. Especially during Bug Week! You know…since their powers would come from bugs. Radioactive ones.
Some of you might be confused about the whole “Spider-Gwen” thing. Yes, it is confusing. I’m going to give you the short form…the story of Spider-Gwen explores a universe where Gwen Stacy was bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker forcing her into a career as the Spider-Woman of her world. That’s Earth-65, and the first appearance of the character was in “Edge of Spider-Verse” No. 2. That issue was a breakout hit, selling through inventory nationally, and rapidly resulted in an ongoing series for the character, entitled “Spider-Gwen.” The first issue of Spider-Gwen was the third-best selling comic of February 2015, selling over 250,000 copies…so that tells you a lot about the character’s sudden popularity.
In May 0f 2015, Free Comic Book Day happened. In Culver City, Comic Bug, a local comic book retailer, ordered the production of their own store exclusive Variant of “Edge of Spider-Verse” No. 2, Spider-Gwen’s previously mentioned first appearance. They contracted artist Siya Oum to do the cover art for their exclusive variant, printed in both Black and White and Full Color versions. The total order was for 3,000 color copies and 1,500 black and white. Despite having their own convention in Culver City that day, “the Bug” failed to sell through their inventory.
Why? It may have been the cost. The color version retailed for $25 and the black and white version a whopping 40 bucks. That’s a decent amount of cash for any variant cover, especially a retailer specific exclusive. Let’s look at the covers…
Their failure to sell through on Free Comic Book Day might be your gain, because on August 6th (today), the “Bug” is making those remaining copies available to anyone. Because, you know…money. Still, with a print run of 250,000 selling out, these variants (although reprints) represent about 2 percent of the initial run, by volume. That is extremely rare, roughly one to one hundred (and I’m blending both the color and black and white together…not willing to work it out exactly).
Again, you can get those covers direct from Comics Bug, online, 40 bucks for the black and white, 25 bucks for the color. The going rate for both of those variants from other vendors online is many times the cost that the store is offering, so there’s that. Since the store is releasing the variants again today (August 6) I assume those links will go to live eBay auctions, as suggested on their web site. Maybe, maybe not…I haven’t heard the best things about how they run their business.
In the past week, I’ve heard from three former Comics Ink customers who have gone into the new shop, Comic Bug Culver City. They each mentioned that they felt either ignored by the staff, or hustled through the shop, in a “make your purchase and leave” fashion. I haven’t been in, so I can’t speak to that, but an interesting common denominator between the three parties is that they were all women. They said that it felt like a “boys clubhouse” or that they just felt unwelcome. One of them pointed to a lack of respect for her “pull list”, which she had maintained after Comics Ink closed and the new firm took over. By “lack of respect,” I mean that they either weren’t pulling or even ordering the books she had asked to hold for her. Bad form. I pointed to the shop’s almost universally positive Yelp reviews, to which I got back, “Since when is Yelp reliable?”
Here at Tales of Adequacy, we don’t charge money for variant covers…I draw them for free. With that in mind, I’m going to post the Marvel Blank Cover Spider-Gwen Variant of the Adequacy Spider-Gwen Variant….at no extra charge, than the fact that you needed to real all that, and scroll down. How’s that for Customer Service?
Getting off of local retail and back to today’s buggy character…a spider-powered Gwen Stacy was first conceptualized by long-time Spider-Man writer Dan Slott for the “Spider-Verse” event. His initial concept was very different from what was published, which was mainly the work of Spider-Gwen creators Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez. That’s the outspoken Mr. Rodriguez I keep mentioning, by the way. The one that pretty much said he wanted to have it out with Frank Cho…over a drawing. Rodriguez’s design for Gwen’s Spider-Woman uniform was cited as a main reason for the character’s initial popularity, and before even the issue hit the stands, “Edge of Spider-Verse” No.2 was an enormous hit and immediately went “viral.”
Heck…you can buy a Spider-Gwen sweatshirt like mine here. And the hoodie only costs 45 bucks, unlike the black and white variant, which is 40 bucks. See…the hoodie has more use. That’s my point about how to spend your dollars, True Believers. plus, since it is an internet purchase, no one at “We Love Fine” will ignore you at the register, or try to hustle you through.
Gwen Stacy, or her likeness, has been a supporting character in Adequacy for ages. When Spider-Gwen hit, it seemed logical to have the character in this strip adopt the costume, and she has had several appearances in it over the last several months. In a recent issue, she is depicted with the protagonist and the “Spider-Friends” vs. Video Man. It’s a fun costume to draw…I feel like Mr. Robbi Rodriguez knocked it out of the park on design there. I’ve also enjoyed the idea in strip of Gwen Stacy as a character from the seventies, who navigates the current world, or at least the flexible world of Adequacy. She often seems ill at ease, or a bit judgmental, despite the fact that the cast of the strip clearly likes her. As everyone, 70’s Gwen is based on an actual person.
With that in mind, let’s conclude this huge Bug Week Post with the art uncluttered by variants and logos and comics industry stuff. The art as what it is…line work in the style of Frank Cho, in a respectful homage.
Next Issue: Even MORE Bug Week! Oh my!