The top end retailer incentive right now is probably the exclusive variant cover; a unique collectible version of a comic with a new cover and limited print run. You’re seeing more and more of these pop up lately, even from the Big Two, because they can really work well at grabbing customer attention. It’s a focused creative commitment from the creator and a big financial commitment from the retailer, creating a promotional bulwark for that title in a particular spot. If a retailer is willing to drop hundreds of dollars on a specialized comic like this they’re telling a creator they believe they can build a dedicated audience for the work. When print runs on even successful creator-owned comics are usually under 5000 copies, adding 500+ copies to that print run from just one outlet is a big deal. It’s leveraging the collectability and future success of that comic as a way to sell the variant for 3 or more times the regular cover price.
This time, it’s all about the indie creator’s relationship with the retailer, and as always, it’s a must-read. And because I never remember to do this when linking to Jim’s posts: Hey, go try out Skullkickers, if you haven’t. It’s online and free.