Patrick Gleason Talks VariantGate, Walmart and Web-Head Covers

Yesterday, Bleeding Cool reported the news about what we dubbed VariantGate, that high-ratio Marvel Comics variant covers and retailer-exclusive variant covers have been turning up in the Wal-Mart three-pack bagged comics that Marvel uses to liquidate excess stock.

As well as 1:500 and 1:1000 covers that comic stores had to put a lot of money down to initially buy, and which stores sell for hundreds of dollars, Variantgate also included exclusive retailer and creator studio covers that were meant to be exclusively sold by the company that commissioned them. And one of those was the Patrick Gleason Amazing Spider-Man #55 virgin webhead cover that was meant to be exclusive from Patrick Gleason Studios and limited to 2500 copies. It is believed that these came from excess stock printed by Marvel to cover potential shipping damages which were meant to have been pulped. But which clearly weren't and ended up in Walmart-destined overstock.

Patrick Gleason tweeted out "JJ & I are finding out along w/everyone else. I'm hearing that my exclusives aren't the only ones showing up in 3-packs. This was done without our knowledge or consent. As an online retailer, I'm also awaiting, along with our customers, an explanation from any involved parties. This is why we bundle exclusives with COAs. (Which may have just become more valuable.) If they don't come with @The_PAT_Shop COA then it's a reject & not part of the original print run. Hang onto your COAs, ask anyone flipping these if they have one because without one it's not official" Patrick Gleason, as an exclusive creator for Marvel Comics might actually be able to elicit an answer from Marvel Comics which we weren't able to get.

Patrick Gleason Talks VariantGate, Walmart and Web-Head Covers
Patrick Gleason Talks VariantGate, Walmart and Web-Head Covers

Other retailer exclusive variants Bleeding Cool have identified as part of VariantGate include the Demon Days: X-Men #1 second printing cover that should have been exclusive to Unknown Comics, the first printing meant to be exclusive to ComicsPRO, Wonderworld Comics' exclusive cover for Taskmaster #1, Frankie's Comics' Venom and Rob Liefeld Studio's Venompool/Deadpool virgin cover to King In Black. We'd love to know about more.

The blame for VariantGate is being pointed at problem with the use of codes in the distribution of covers. Diamond Comic Distributors would have sent the comics in question to the company that repackages liquidated Marvel comics for Walmart at Marvel's instruction. But with Marvel Comics switching their exclusive distribution to Penguin Random House – including all retailer exclusive cover distribution, it is possible that things were hurried along more than they should have. Marvel did not return e-mails sent earlier but Diamond told Bleeding Cool "Diamond acts as the agent for Marvel and as such, picks, pulls and ships products as requested."

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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