Variant Issues

From GCD
Jump to: navigation, search

Variant Issues

We use variants to have separate records for closely related issues. Closely related issues are also known as Alternate Editions. The following types of Alternate Editions are currently allowed as variants and may be added to a base issue per the instructions below:

  1. Cover variants – These are comics, published at approximately the same time as the base item, with different cover art. These are generally issued in order to entice consumers into buying more than one copy of a story or into buying work of a favorite artist. Cover variants for American comic book magazines almost always have the same indicia as the base item. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue.
  2. Price variants – These are comics for which copies were printed with different price points at approximately the same time. Issues with price or retailer stickers are not variants. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue. An issue only falls in this category if no criteria of other definitions are fulfilled.
  3. Distribution variants – These are comics printed at approximately the same time for different distribution channels. For example, after the advent of the direct market in the US, many publishers began to print direct and newsstand editions, and sometimes subscription editions; the difference is usually in the UPC. There are, however some direct vs. newsstand editions that have different content; these are not variants, but different issues. For some distribution variants, there is a change in branding, as with DC issues distributed in department stores with a Whitman brand. In Europe, there are bookstore versions vs. comics shop versions with the same sorts of difference."Reutsendelse" is a Norwegian term used for such comics, which may have part of a single print run designated for a later sales period by different UPC, distribution code, and/or price. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue. (See Naming of Distribution and Printing Variants below for how to name these variants.)
  4. International variants – These are comics printed contemporaneously with the base item and are intended for sale in foreign markets, another type of distribution variant. Difference may be in the display of pricing (pounds vs. dollars). Translations into languages other than that of the base item are not variants, but different series. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue.
  5. Second Printing variants – These are comics, published somewhat later than the base item, in response to demand for more copies of the base item. Almost always, these items have an indicator, such as a “Second Printing” logo indicating that they are not the base item. There is a practice of issuing second printing of with new cover art. Often the indicia will indicate that the item is a second printing. Second printings can carry a different price from the base item and care should be taken not to confuse these with price variants. Later printings of American comic book magazines also usually have a different UPC. In the current GCD database configuration, all of these are variants of the base issue. The foregoing description can, of course be applied to third, fourth, etc. printings.
    • It is possible, however, for there to be no distinguishing marks, making it impossible to tell the base item from the later printing; since these items do not “vary” from the original, they are NOT “variants.”
    • Please note that counterfeits, such as the infamous counterfeiting of Cerebus #1, are NOT variants, but are separate series.
  6. Advertising variants – These are comics, published at approximately the same time as the base item, with different advertisements or with comics content replacing advertising. This category applies, in particular, to much of the Dell output, wherein subscription ads appear in place of a single-page story on inside covers. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue. An issue only falls in this category if no criteria of other definitions are fulfilled.
  7. There are special rules for the series Marvel Premiere Classics and issues related to that series.
  8. Items Released in Different Formats - This concerns an item or series of items, which are released in two or more formats. The primary example of this is a single hardcover or series of hardcovers also released (sometime but not always afterwards) in softcover. In addition to the hardcover-softcover example are such possibilities as square bound and saddle-stitched editions, tabloid-size and standard sized, and others. Per a vote of 2015-03-07, these are variants of the base issue within the same series (they were previously separate series). For the purpose of the source of a reprint link, i.e. in case of new material in these issues, or for the purpose of establishing the base issue, we use the earlier released issue. If the items are simultaneously released in multiple formats we use the issue in the most-permanent format; that is a hardcover before a softcover, a softcover before a saddle-stitched, etc. In any case, if a single series changes format over its run, we will not break the series up at format changes.
  9. There are situations where a variant of an issue has one set of series name and number on the cover and a different set in the indicia (so far examples are known where the indicia comes from the base issue, while on the cover it is different). Therefore these are variants which are also a case of "also known as." This type of variant shall be placed in the other series, and a clickable connection to the base issue (and base series) is automatically there by the variant links. Appropriate Notes should be entered explaining the situation. Currently, the necessary tech solution to achieve this linkage does not exist. For later easy finding of these issues for editing once the needed tech is implemented, a Keyword "also-known-as" shall be used.

Note that the following types of Alternate Editions are NOT variants in the current GCD database configuration:

  1. Second Editions – These are comics that reprint earlier content, under the same title/issue # but with changed editorial content’ they are issued later than multiple printing variants. This can include new advertising, new text, revised art, new covers, etc. The key point is that they are published later and are meant to represent the publishers “current version” of the item. This is more likely to refer to books and albums that are kept in print by publishers, as opposed to periodical publications. In the current GCD database configuration, second editions are treated as different issues.
  2. Facsimile editions – These are publications intended to recreate the appearance of an earlier publication, similar to Commemorative editions. They may have some distinguishing characteristic from the original: lack of advertising, different indicia, different cover stock, different size, etc. but they will present the original story material as it was originally presented. While it is possible for the original indicia to be reproduced, these are not variants. In the current GCD database configuration, they are issues of a separate series from the original.
  3. Commemorative editions – These are publications related to Facsimile editions in that they are published much later than the original and make some effort to capture the original presentation, but they are likely to have different covers or different trade dress from the original. In the current GCD database configuration, these are separate series.


Technically this a realized by a pointer from the variant issue to its base issue. That way a variant issue has access to all the sequences of the base issue. In other words, a variant uses the sequences from the base issue. Only the cover sequence might be different, since the variant issue can have different artwork. In this case a cover sequence needs to be added (or moved from the base issue) to the variant issue. No other sequences, and not more than one cover sequence, can be added to the variant issue.

Each variant issue has its own cover scan. In case the variant has the same cover as the base issue, e.g. in case of later printing with only changes in publication date, price, ..., which are not on the front, currently an empty cover slot shows, this is for technical reasons and will be changed.

Adding Variant Issues

There are several ways to add a variant issue. One needs to give a name for the variant in any case.

  • While uploading a cover scan one can click the 'Add variant issue with new cover' button.
    • If the variant has different artwork one ticks the box 'Variant artwork' and a cover sequence will be generated with question marks in the creator fields.
    • Once the cover upload is approved a new variant issue record will be generated. The issue data for this will be mostly left empty and not copied from the base issue since there can be changes in many situations.
    • Ideally you request a reservation for the new variant to later fill in the missing data.
  • In case a scan of the variant exists you can create a new variant issue from the 'Edit Covers' page.
    • Select the cover for the variant and press 'Create variant for cover' and enter/change the issue level data on the next page.
    • If necessary you can add or move a cover sequence on the edit overview page.
    • This is described in more details and with screenshots under Add Variant Issues. There are also several helpful videos on our Video Tutorials page.
  • You can create a new variant issue from the issue page by clicking 'Add variant issue'.
    • Enter/change the issue level data on the next page.
    • You can either directly send this variant add to the pending queue or edit this change further together with its base issue to move cover sequence or cover scans.
  • While editing an issue you can add a variant from the editing overview page by clicking 'Add variant issue'. The above applies in the same way.

Variant Name

So far, we have made a decision for the naming of the following types of variant issues:

  • Distribution and Printing Variants
  • Price Variants
  • Publisher Given Named Variants

Further decisions for other kinds of variants will be made as discussion continues.


Naming of Publisher Given Named Variants

The following steps, in order, shall be used for the naming of issues where the publisher provides a variant name on the issue.

  1. If a printed name for the variant exists on the issue, use that.
  2. If it has no printed name, but a solicited one, use that.

The name should be recorded as printed, as usual except for abbreviations, which should be spelled out in full. If such names as given by the publisher do not exist, follow the specific rulings per type of variant as listed below.


Naming of Price Variants

These are comics for which copies were printed with different price points at approximately the same time. Issues with price or retailer stickers are not variants. In the current GCD database configuration, these are variants of the base issue. An issue only falls in this category if no criteria of other variants definitions are fulfilled.

Following this definition, a later printing with a different price will follow the naming rules for later printings, not price variants.

If the variant does not qualify for any of the general rules like having a printed or solicited name, but qualifies as a Price variant based on the above definition, the variant shall be named using the price information as printed on the comic, including all abbreviations as printed: do not add the word 'Price'.

Some examples (by no means a complete list) are:

  • 30¢
  • 75 Pfg.
  • 2.50 $


Naming of Distribution and Printing Variants

The following steps, in order, shall be used for the naming of distribution and printing variants

  1. If a printed name for the kind of distribution exists for the issue, use that.
  2. If it has no printed name, but a solicited one, use that.
  3. If none of the above exist, use the following forms. Our aim is here to be able to identify a specific variant type by its names.
  4. For different distribution channels identifiable by type, use the type, e.g.:
    • Newsstand
    • Direct
    • Bokhandelutgave
    • Bokklubbutgave
    • Presse
    • Buchhandel
  5. For branded distribution variants the name of the brand, use the brand name, e.g.:
    • Whitman
    • Gold Key
  6. For later printings give the name of the printing, e.g.:
    • Second Printing
    • Dritte Auflage
    • Reutsendelse


Naming of International Variants

As a reminder, the definition of international variants is comics printed contemporaneously with the base item and intended for sale in foreign markets, another type of distribution variant. Difference may be in the display of pricing (pounds vs. dollars). Translations into languages other than that of the base item are not variants, but different series.

If the variant does not qualify for any of the general rules like having a printed or solicited name, but qualifies as an international variant based on the above definition, the variant should be named using just the country information. Additional words such as price, newsagent, or the given price shall not be used.


Other Variants

For other kind of variants besides those named above, further decision will need to be made. The following is so far a guideline:

The name should be recorded as printed, except for abbreviations, which should be spelled out in full.

Additional words such as variant, edition, etc., should not be added after printed names.

As always, by long-standing convention, the preferred entry method for all text-based information is to use the language the comic was published in. English can always be used as an alternate. Title is listed following conventional grammar rules for title case as used in the language of the publication. i.e., titles from American publications will use the MLA English title case rules for English, titles from German publications will use the title case rules for German, etc.

Whether additional aspects, different between the different versions (in particular an artist name), can or shall be included will follow the decisions to be made in future votes. At this time, using an artist name when no other difference or information exists, has not been ruled out.


Some examples (by no means a complete list) are:

  • Cover A
  • Newsstand
  • Direct
  • Mass Market
  • Standard
  • Regular
  • Virgin
  • <artist-name>
  • Second Printing
  • 2. Auflage
  • Canadian
  • French

(end of definition)


Policy Votes Affecting This Topic

https://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/333/ - 2018-10-06

https://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/321/ - 2018-01-02

https://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/315/ - 2017-10-11

https://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/314/ - 2017-10-01

https://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/311/ - 2017-07-05

http://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/243/ - 2015-03-07

http://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/242/ - 2015-03-07

http://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/229/ - 2014-11-24

http://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/224/ - 2014-08-19

http://www.comics.org/voting/ballot/210/ - 2014-05-29


Back to the Formatting Documentation