Love them or hate them, variant covers have been a fixture in the industry for years, with no signs of slowing down. They're deployed at publishers big and small; Marvel and DC Comics both regularly unveil monthly themed variants (think Marvel's hip-hop variants or DC's movie poster tributes), and commonly promote new launches with multiple variant covers.
So now that Marvel has had action figure variants, manga variants, '90s homage variants and Gwen Stacy variants, what's next? In either a shameless marketing ploy or subversive piece of meta-commentary (or both?), the publisher looks to take things to a different level by telling an actual story over the course of 20 variant covers, equaling the length of a typical single issue. And what better character than Deadpool, a character extremely familiar with appearing on variant covers?
CBR has the exclusive first details on the "Deadpool Secret Comic," which will launch in November with "Deadpool" #1, and continue for the first 20 issues of the series; with no word yet on if the story will be collected once it's all released. The story will be told by series writer Gerry Duggan and artist Scott Koblish (Mike Hawthorne illustrates the interiors of the book), and is said by Marvel to introduce a new character "that is already vitally important to every Marvel Comic in recent history."
"Koblish is the perfect artist to smash down the last bit of the fourth wall... this is Deadpool's final frontier," Duggan said. "We're doing it for the fans. And the angry letters."
CBR News spoke with "Deadpool" editor Jordan D. White about how the "Deadpool Secret Comic" came to be, Duggan coming up with the "craziest thing he could" for the story and whether this release strategy means that the new "Deadpool" series will make it 20 issues before being relaunched with a new #1.
CBR News: Jordan, what was the origin of the "Deadpool Secret Comic"? It feels like you're having some fun with the abundance of variant covers in the industry, both the sheer numbers and different types -- actually telling a comic story with variant covers sort of feels like the final frontier.
Jordan D. White: This all started when we were talking about a round of the themed variant cover programs we tend to do. We were discussing a new one, and I noticed that we tend to do 20 covers across the line... and it occurred to me, why not have those 20 covers make up a comic? It was one of the craziest ideas I'd ever had for Deadpool... but I immediately fell in love with it. It's nutty, it's meta, it's a little evil... I knew I was going to have to make it happen.
We decided it would be a bit too evil to make people buy 20 random series in order to get this full Deadpool story, so instead we're putting it in place over the first 20 issues of "Deadpool."
Creatively, what type of storytelling opportunity did you see here? It looks like this won't be a throwaway story -- there's a new character being introduced said to be "vitally important."
Discussing this story is just one of a number of completely insane phone conversations I've had with Gerry Duggan. When I came to him with the idea to tell a story across 20 covers, he laughed for about 20 minutes straight before we were able to continue the conversation.
How we approached the story? I think Gerry just came up with the craziest thing he could, to match the insanity of the release concept. And it's true -- there is a new character introduced in this story who is Vitally Important to every All-New, All-Different Marvel Comic. Heck -- all the Secret Wars issues and tie-ins as well.
Also, what's it like telling a story over this long of a period of time? If the book is monthly, that's more than a year and a half -- each page might need its own recap page, at that rate.
We do tend to ship "Deadpool" more than monthly, but still, this will take over a year, at least. It is very unusual... but we on the Deadpool book scoff in the face challenges. Actually, it's one of three different stories being told in "Deadpool" at three different speeds. You'll have to read the series to see what I mean.
Here's maybe the most important question for any variant initiative: What are the details on how readers can get the variant covers?
Easy peasy! All you gotta do is talk to your comic book retailer of choice and ask them to make sure to order you a copy. Not every retailer carries variant covers, so I'd recommend letting them know you want these in advance, so they can make sure to order them for you. If this is a 20-page comic in the first 20 issues of "Deadpool," is this secretly a way to guarantee the new series gets at least 20 issues before relaunching with a new #1?
Not just that, but it means it's up to the fans who want to read the end of this story to make sure we don't get cancelled before issue #20! But lots of copies... or doom yourself to an eternal cliffhanger!
"Deadpool" #1, and the first installment of the "Deadpool Secret Comic," is scheduled for release on Nov. 4.