As you’ve heard me saying a lot lately, I’ve got a new creator-owned comic series launching at the end of the month. The reason why Steve and I have been doing so many teasers, interviews, and previews is to build up interest and awareness as many ways as we can. We’re putting out a new untested title on the shelves beside worldwide superhero brands, New York Times best-selling authors, and big media tie-in licensed comics. Needless to say, that’s some stiff competition.
I mentioned before in one of my tutorial posts that one of the ways creators can market their comics is with strong retailer outreach and that one of the strongest forms of that commitment is a retailer or event-specific cover. When Wayward was announced I contacted retailers and conventions who have supported me in the past to see if there was any interest in that kind of cross promotion. The response was incredible. Four years worth of hard work has built a network of stores and events who like what I’m doing and there was a lot of enthusiasm for getting involved in a big way on the ground floor of this new series launch.
Once the dust finally settled, I was gob-smacked to see that Wayward is launching with ten different covers. Yeah, I know.
I genuinely don’t expect people to “get ’em all” by any means. I’m not advocating for the kind of variant cover crash that hurt comics so badly in the 90’s. None of our variant covers are artificially limited by forcing retailers to order a set number of copies of a “regular” cover in order to qualify to get a limited variant.
What I’m really hoping is people see a cover, any cover, that grabs their attention and that they give our first few issues a chance. If having a select group of retailers on the front line promoting helps achieve that, great. If it’s an exclusive item at a convention someone’s attending and that’s the reason they check it out, that’s all good too. We need to cast our net wide and see if we can build a sustainable readership.
Okay, with all that preamble out of the way, here’s a run down of our ten covers and where you’ll be able to find them when issue 1 arrives on August 27th:
This is our core launch cover and I expect it’s the one that’s going to be ordered most heavily by retailers. It’s also a colored version of the original artwork Steve created for UDON’s Vent artbook that started this whole project in the first place. As you might imagine, it’s near and dear to my heart. All of the A covers for the first story arc will have the white title bar along the top and a key image of one of the main characters staring at you like a bad ass. This is a standard cover available from your local comic shop.
Alina’s artwork has a delicate yet powerful quality to it and I’ve been a big fan of her work for quite some time. I love the engaging surreal quality of this illustration of Ayane in a gashapon wonderland. I think this cover is going to really grab people from across a room. This is a standard cover available from your local comic shop.
Jeff’s been a dear friend and UDON colleague for years now. His atmospheric animated art has loads of appeal, a cool fusion of east and west sensibilities that works really well for Wayward. This is a standard cover available from your local comic shop.
Adam Warren was the first North American artist I noticed who embraced a manga style and really made it his own. Over the years we’ve become good friends and I’m honored to have him contribute a sweet cover to the launch of my Tokyo-centric series. This is a standard cover available from your local comic shop.
I’ve been a fan of Kalman’s artwork since I first saw his stuff in the d20 modern rulebook. When I found out he was Toronto-based, I knew I had to meet him. Since then we’ve become good friends. Since Steve lives in Yokohama I wanted to have a variant put together by a local artist to help enhance our launch weekend and Kalman’s style was a perfect fit. This show-specific variant will be available at Fan Expo Canada, the country’s largest pop culture convention happening the weekend after our release. Having a show variant in my hometown as we launch the series is a real thrill and pretty much exactly what I hoped for when we set the launch date for late August.
Erik Larsen is one of the Image founders and was the publisher in charge of Image who originally green lit Skullkickers. This retro Kirby-esque take is a 180 degree turn from what people would expect from Wayward and that’s what I like most about it. John’s vibrant colors help punch it out even more. This show specific variant will be available at Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon happening in mid-September and I’ll be there.
Steve and Tamra created a beautiful eye-catching illustration of Rori and Ayane in front of the Tokyo Tower at night. Steve’s friend Makoto Nishi did up the hand-lettered text to give it the look of a Japanese magazine cover. This store-specific variant will be available at Happy Harbor Comics in Edmonton, Alberta. Go Canada!
Retailer Cal Johnston was so impressed with the Happy Harbor variant that he asked for one too. Steve and Tamra obliged with a scene set right in front of the store. This store-specific variant will be available at Strange Adventures shops in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Fredericton. Go Canada again!
Chip is best known for his best-selling Image comic Sex Criminals, but not a lot of people know how fantastic a graphic designer he is. I love the spy novel-esque feel of this one. This store-specific variant cover was done up to tie-in with a special signing event Chip and I are doing at Third Eye Comics in Annapolis, Maryland. The gang at Third Eye have been unflagging supporters of Skullkickers and I’m thrilled that they’re just as enthusiastic about Wayward.
We were feeling like we’d bitten off more than we could chew with all these variant covers and wondered if people would think we were huge sell-out bastards, so when Larry approached me about doing a Phantom variant I only came around on it when he suggested we do some sort of joke with it. Embracing our desperate desire for success with this new series is pretty on point, so we ran with it. This Phantom variant will be available from a group of retail stores across North America listed here.
Whew, that’s the full slate. Future issues will be shipping with only two covers, our core white-topped A image by Steve Cummings and an alternate by friends and respected colleagues across the industry.
The whole Wayward team has worked really hard to make it the best we can deliver and getting such an incredible vote of confidence from our friends and retail partners is genuinely humbling. We hope you pick up a copy of Wayward #1 on August 27th and enjoy the start of something new.