By TJ Dietsch
Not just anyone gets to grace the cover of a Marvel comic. Being a super hero generally helps, but every now and then regular people get the opportunity to choose who gets the coveted spot.
Back in August, Marvel announced a deal for retailers that would allow them to pick who made their way onto special variant covers of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #669—out this week—as drawn by Todd Nauck. Each store worked differently, either choosing their subject on their own or holding a contest.
Marvel.com talked with Joe Field of Flying Color Comic Shop in Concord, California, Cathy Beal of Amazing Fantasy Comics in Chesapeake, Virginia and Ian Knight, winner of New York City's Midtown Comics' in-store contest.
“When the offer was presented to us—and all other retailers, I should note—we had two ways to go: either do a contest where one person's image would wind up on the cover or go with our store super hero, Captain Four-Color, who is the sworn protector of comic books and all the fans who love them,” Field says. “So, Captain Four-Color is there representing all comic book fans, especially the great people that continue to support Flying Colors Comics & Other Cool Stuff in Concord, California!”
Fans of the store and Captain Four-Color himself might notice that the version seen on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN looks a little different than the one they've come to know and love.
“The reaction so far has been great,” Field reports. “Some have inquired if we have changed the color scheme on Captain Four-Color's costume. We've decided this is Cap FC's Marvel Universe alternate uniform!”
The reaction from regulars has been great, and Field’s excited about the book making its way into stores in time to celebrate a very special occasion:
“Since the release of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #669 also coincides closely to Flying Colors' 23rd anniversary here in Concord, I decided to make this an even more special event by inviting cover artist Todd Nauck to be an in-store guest here for our 23rd anniversary party on Saturday September 17. This is going to be a big party and a definitely an event to remember!
“Our Facebook Fan Page was the first place we showed the cover and we got immediate and very positive feedback. We'll all be buzzing about this one for weeks! To have Flying Colors' own super hero on the cover of [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN] is just so cool! We've also been getting inquiries from Spidey fans all over, so anyone wanting to get a copy of [of] their very own please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
While Flying Color took the opportunity to emblazon their mascot on the cover, Amazing Fantasy went a different route and honored bass legend and five time Grammy winner Victor Wooten on their version.
“I have been friends with Victor Wooten since 1984, when we lived around 3 miles apart in Newport News, Virginia,” Cathy Beal, wife of Amazing Fantasy owner Jerry Ringi, says. “He and I are both Spider-Man fans. After Victor moved to Tennessee, I started delivering his pull books to him once or twice a year in Tennessee or on the road at concerts.”
The release paperwork took some time to put together, so the Amazing Fantasy version of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #669 will be in-store around October 5. Fans of both the store and Wooten are getting excited.
“A few will be available in our store, but the majority will exclusive through Victor's people,” notes Beal of the variants. “I held off on telling our customers in case the release form issues couldn't get worked out, but it will generate excitement when the news is out!”
The real question: What does the man himself think of the cover?
“I bought the original artwork for him as a birthday present,” shares Beals. “He loved it! He said he'll have to work out to look like the drawing, though.”
New York City's famous Midtown Comics offered customers the opportunity to enter their name in a random drawing. Ian Knight won and wound up having himself as well as his three year old son drawn by Nauck.
“Midtown Comics gave all their customers an opportunity to get their likeness on this variant,” Knight says. “The winner was chosen at random, but in order to be included in the drawing you had to pre-order a copy.”
As you might expect, Knight created quite a scene when he got the good news and had to explain himself to his officemates.
“When I heard I had won, I was ecstatic,” Knight recalls. “I actually [cheered] out loud at work so loud I had to explain to everyone what happened and why I got so excited.”
Unlike the others, Knight got the chance to share his cover with another person: His son, who can be seen holding on to his dad's neck while swinging with Spidey.
“My son is three,” Knight says. “He loves Spider-Man and he has seen the picture. He likes to see it because he and Dad get to be with Spider-Man, but I do not think he quite understands that this isn't just a picture for us, but it will be on an actual comic book for others to buy and own themselves. As he gets older I am sure he will appreciate it more, and I hope he continues to enjoy Spider-Man and other super heroes, and not look back and think that dad is a dork. Either way, this has helped create a family heirloom that he will get to own one day.”