A Matter of Attention

A column article by: Ace Masters


What does the cover look like on your favorite title that came out this week? NO PEEKING! Think, what does the cover look like?

I bet you’re not sure – but you’re sure the title character was on the cover. If you remember the cover vividly, good for you. If you looked, shame on you.

Okay, now you can look. Guess what? I bet you were surprised. If you weren’t sure what the cover was, you’re not alone.

I have written a couple of columns in the past bemoaning the importance of the cover of a comic book – what makes a good cover, bad cover and what exactly a cover should do. The main point of a cover is to get attention.

This whole thought came to mind a couple of weeks ago when I got home one Wednesday afternoon, sorted through my couple of dozen titles and it dawned on me: I never really looked at the covers while in the store. I just made sure I got my normal books and didn’t miss anything.

The only covers I did look at in the store were of new titles that launched, to see if anything got my attention. A couple did, most didn’t.

I came to the realization that 9 times out of 10, I don’t pay any attention to the covers of the titles on my pull list. I pay attention to the fact that I GET the titles on my pull list.

The only time I really pay attention to the cover is when I am looking for new titles I am interested in, usually after reading about them and seeing the cover art in advance.

I thought I might be alone in this, but I found out I am not. I talked to a few fellow readers at my local comic book store (Drawn to Comics), and a good chunk of them  - including owner Ken Brown - thought about it and realized the same thing: They really don’t look at the cover until they read the book.

I also talked to a few of my friends who don’t go to my comic book store. The results were the same. It turns out that 7 of the 10 people I talked to paid more attention to the getting their regular monthly titles than the the cover.

What about you? Can you say that while in store you pay attention to the cover of every title you get?

Does this speak of the fact that the covers aren’t doing their job? No. It speaks to the fact that we are creatures of habit – for that time we are in stores we are probably more concerned with making sure we get the new issue of Spider-man, Batman, Walking Dead, Morning Glories, than we are with the cover.

The cover’s job is to get attention and to mostly get attention from people who may not normally get the title or who are new to comics. If you have been reading Batman for 20 years – you’re already hooked. A great cover is nice, but odds are you’ll be reading even if the cover was sub-par.

Take the relaunch of Valiant for example. The covers look great so far, and the released cover art for upcoming titles looks good too. I know that I, and many others, don’t care about how good the covers are. We just care that Valiant is back.

Speaking of Valiant, I eagerly anticipated Bloodshot #1. After getting my books that week and heading home to sit down and read, I finally looked at the cover. I never noticed until that point that the red dot on Bloodshot’s chest bleeds into the old glory (This is the regular cover, not the incentives).

An ever better example of this is Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who – Assimilation 2 #3, Cover A. How many people noticed this cover in store? It’s a Next Generation/Eleventh Doctor crossover comic book, but Kirk, Spock and the Fourth Doctor are on the cover!

There is also an issue here, we all may be hooked on our favorite titles, creature of habits driven to make sure we get each issue. That also means we probably take it for granted. We expect each issue to be on the self, and we expect great art for the cover. Or at least we expect competent art.

Let’s try this next Wednesday. Go to your store, get your books, make sure you don’t miss an issue – but then stop. Take a moment to go through your titles. Check out the cover of each one. Then scan the new comics rack, even if there is nothing else you may pick up, just check out the covers.

Take a moment to appreciate them.

I know I will.


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