Chromium. Embossed. Foil. Die-cut. Lenticular. Why choose?
In honor of December's debut of the new Quantum and Woody! series from writer Daniel Kibblesmith and artist Kano, Valiant Entertainment will bring together nearly all of the comic book industry's most infamous cover gimmicks into one cheekily self-aware monstrosity of a variant -- specifically, the "Most Variant Cover of All Time."
The cover will sport a main image by Valiant mainstay artist Clayton Henry, featuring Quantum, Woody and perennial supporting character/mascot The Goat in an homage to Barry Windsor-Smith’s 1992 cover for the original Valiant's Unity #0. While that would surely be a fetching image by itself, the fun really starts with the chromium bar at the top of the cover, the embossed and foil logo (using genuine '90s foil -- more on that later), iridescent fifth ink, "die-cut Goat bite," lenticular back cover and sticker featuring a random fourth Valiant character drawn by one of the publisher's artists -- making each cover different, and meriting individual hand-numbering. The cover doesn't glow in the dark, but the company says it tried to make that happen.
The cover will be available to retailers who order 250 copies or more of December's Quantum and Woody #1, with a limit of one copy per store.
Not only does the cover aim to bring attention to the new series and somewhat satirize the current variant craze, it also, as you may imagine, is labor-intensive to produce -- an idea years in the making, first sparked a few years back during Valiant's previous Quantum and Woody launch.
"This really took a village. Every single person in the company was involved in this in some way. This is something that we've been working on for about three years," Dinesh Shamdasani, Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer, shared with CBR. "We wanted to figure out a cost-effective a way to build as many gimmicks as you could on one cover, and to do that in a way that looked cool in the cheesiest way we could."
In the process of researching how to make this cover a reality, Valiant discovered the Montreal-based printer that produced many of the '90s most famous gimmick covers -- including WildC.A.T.S. #2, Doctor Strange #50 and Adventures of Superman #505 -- and, in the ultimate '90s tribute, are using actual materials from those covers, including leftover reams of foils, to bring The Most Variant Cover to life.
"This guy ran this company with his father, who did all the gimmicks in the '90s," Shamdasani said. "Everything you can think of from the '90s, he did, except chromium. All the foils, all the embosses, all those crazy covers that were one silver color but embossed, they did those using a press that's never been used in printing before. They got a car press, I think from Dodge, that puts something like a hundred tons of pressure on a piece of paper to get this thing to emboss."
While variants and flashy cover gimmicks are most commonly associated with the speculator boom of the 1990s, they've made a major comeback in recent years, ranging from lenticular covers at DC Comics and dozens of variants for high-profile Marvel releases like Star Wars. Valiant itself has employed multiple gimmicks in its current incarnation, ranging from the QR-activated "talking comic book cover" for the 2012 launch of X-O Manowar that kicked off the revived phase of the publisher, to the many other covers planned for the new Quantum and Woody #1, including the "Extreme Ultra-Foil Chase Variant."