Something that’s jumped out at me from recent product updates is this line from Marvel:
FANTASTIC FOUR #601 will be printed in a self-cover format, where the paper stock on the cover and the interior are similar.
It’s appeared in the last couple of shipping updates from the House of Ideas, unusually (Normally, such updates appear once, especially for something as minor as paper stock changes), but that’s not what’s interesting me; no, I’m more curious about why the book is being printed in “self-cover format.”
The cynical answer is probably something along the lines of “They’re changing the cover stock to something cheaper in an attempt to save money,” and that might be true, but the announcement doesn’t necessarily say that it’s the cover stock that’s changing; what if the stock for the interiors is being upgraded (or, more likely, both stocks are being bumped simultaneously)? And more importantly, why?
There’s something about this that reminds me of the fifth issue of Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, way back when; that issue was released with four “de-enhanced” variant covers, each offering abstract images printed in red and black ink on brown cardstock as part-design statement, part-flipping the bird at the variant craze that was engulfing comics at the time (This was back in 1995). F4 writer Jonathan Hickman is known for his design sense, so what’re the possibilities that “self-cover format” relates to some design decision (I would love it if it were an issue made up entirely of covers that tell a story, but I doubt that’s the case, somehow)?
(Admittedly, the book having three variant covers might put an end to this kind of speculation. Guess we’ll see on December 21st…)