Sound Waves? Rhapsody is a reader, but I've shown her reading regular books, not comics. Scratch that one.
Quantum Redshift? Rose is a comic book nut, she'd be a natural. Of course, every publisher rejected it, so no dice.
Red Riding Hood? Head Above Water? Safe Passage? All set in medieval times. Get real.
Hannah Singer? I've implied she reads comic books (and Fairchild makes a reference to The Endless in a story in the next book), but come on.
I'm thinking about what series I have that could be a special cheap publicity stunt alternate gimmick cover. I would set it up so that comic stores that order so many copies of my book would get a special cover featuring the store on there somewhere. Only I'd be a lot less harsh on the terms. The beauty of print on demand is you don't have to shaft people.
Readers will remember me discussing Godzilla #1 from IDW. If your store ordered 500 copies, you got all of them with a special cover featuring Godzilla destroying your comic store with the logo (and, for a couple, actual employees) prominently featured. Estimates are it boosted sales of the book by over 35,000 copies and some people went on road trips to try to collect as many as they could.
Avatar announced at C2E2 that they wanted in on the act. They are launching a line-up called Boundless that will feature "empowered female leads" (read that: amazing chicks with big racks), with new titles mixed with old Avatar series like Pandora (a series that really redefined "wasted potential"). The launch title will be War Goddess, which already has four variant covers, including the one pictured here. Oh, look. Phallic tentacles, including one aimed up her crotch. How novel. Rob Liefeld called, he wants his headgear back. If your store orders 150 copies of War Goddess, you get the name of the store on the cover. If you order 350, you basically commission the cover you want (oh, dear lord, why am I afraid some of these are going to be kept behind the counter and sold in a plain brown wrapper?).
Now, Marvel is getting in on the act.
Amazing Spider-Man #666 will have two different variant covers, depending on how many copies the retailer orders. The regular number? A picture of the comic book store will appear on the Daily Bugle newspaper that appears on the cover of the comic. Or, if you order the really high number, you get a cover with Spider-Man defending your comic store from some menace or another.
I am looking to see how many copies will have to be ordered, but either way, this doesn't look good. This means, basically, stores will have to place two orders to get in on the custom cover hunt, and one will have to be lower than the other. And I still want to know how many copies. Marvel and DC are very good with one variant edition per 200 regular comic deals. This means, if the store is unlucky enough to have someone who wants a variant cover, they will have to buy the 200 copies just to get it. If they don't have other stores to spread the books around to absorb the cost (or if more than one customer wants that variant), they are soooooo screwed.
Publishers seem to be skipping the stores in their focus on the customers, forgetting it's the stores going out on a limb for these goofy stunts. I mean, if you want to do a variant, would it kill you to just make it available for whoever wants it? (The variant covers for Sound Waves #4 and #5 are available for anyone who wants them, although I haven't sold one, I just gave them away to the people that wanted them. Only five people did, so it's not like I broke the bank. In fact, I own more copies of the variants than are out in general circulation.)
I'm guessing this is why I'm not successful as a comic publisher -- I'm not cold, calculating, and callous enough.