For years a cover of a comic book had the title easy to read on it. Older issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Superman, and more had their titles above the cover art so people would know what title it was with a glance. Now, often a title will not even be on the cover. Often people will think we are sold out of a comic, even though it is right there in front of them on the shelf. Why does this happen? One reason that comes up a lot is the lack of the comic's actual title on the cover. Another reason is characters that have nothing to do with the actual comic being on the cover. At times it is both of these reasons. I wonder how many people just assume we are out of a title and do not ask and leave without buying anything? I tell everyone that comes in that if they need help, let me know. That does not mean they will ask if we are out of something if they assume we are. How much in sales are lost by simply not having a comic title on the cover?
With so many different covers for the same issue, it is tough to keep up on what is in stock or not by simply looking at the comics. Often times the characters that are in a comic or are supposed to be featured in the comic are not the same ones that are on the cover. Many publishers at times dedicate most of their comics in a certain month to various characters that have nothing to do with the comic. Such as when there is a month for variant cover themes for Batman, Carnage, Deadpool, Gwen-Stacy, Peacemaker, Wonder Woman, and so many more.
Years ago, DC had Lego variant covers. I remember a kid buying one, and then the next time he was in; he let me know he thought it was a comic about Lego characters when it wasn't.
The biggest headache currently with so many variant covers is when they have no title on them, and a character that has nothing to do with the actual comic is featured on the cover. Imagine going into a library or bookstore and trying to find a book with no actual title on it and a character that has nothing to do with the book. Gwen-Stacy, as a superhero on Iron Fist blocking out most of the actual Iron Fist title, is the only copy of that issue of Iron Fist we have left. No Kang on a Kang comic. Timeless, oh how it would have sold better here without so many different covers that featured so many different characters that had little to nothing to do with the actual comic.
Why were these a headache? Because so many customers simply were looking for a comic with the title on it that they wanted to buy but couldn't find it due to the lack of a title. They are not doing anything wrong; it is needlessly confusing.
Here are a few recent comics that I pulled. The upper left comic has a cool Captain America and Red Skull cover. The one below it has another cool Captain America cover. The problem? People assumed they were Captain America comics and not the actual Captain America Iron Man comics from the limited series. The second comic from the left on the bottom row is a nice Iron Man and War Machine cover. The comic is actually another cover for the Captain America Iron Man limited series. The third comic on the bottom is a fun throwback action figure cover. Even though it says Uncanny X-Men, it is actually a Hellion comic. Why did I pull these comics? Their covers make it confusing to the average person what comic they belong to. Making covers confusing is bad marketing.
Cover art often does sell a comic; it does not help when the actual comic title is not on it if the publishers want people to actually buy their comics.