I remember in the 90's that we were plagued by a multitude of different covers (before the term variant was used as much as it is today). There were chromium this and die-cut that, it all seemed too much.
And now here we are in 2013. There are ton's of variant covers from all over the place. There are sketch variants, blank variants, alternate covers, different artist's covers and so on.
Why do those who collect comic book subject ourselves to buying so many of these variants? Is it because we feel that they'll increase in value, somehow legitimizing our purchase? Is it just because the art is good and we like the way it looks, even though we buy a copy with a different cover that has the same internal material in it?
My excuse is that I am a bit OCD when it comes to my collecting, and I feel the need to have a copy of every variant in my collection for most of the titles I get. Good for my LCS. Not so much for my savings. :) I'm not complaining, just putting it out there.
Who is the worst offenders when it comes to printing variant covers? Marvel? DC? IDW? Dynamite Entertainment?
For what I have on my subscription at my LCS, I regularly get the variants of Lady Death, Vampirella, TMNT and Evil Ernie. I used to get all the variants of ever G.I. Joe title as well, but unfortunately the demand for those titles has gone down enough the my LCS doesn't get the variants any more... so I found a few places online to fuel that need.
With Lady Death, I can count on 4 separate covers for every issue when it is originally released. Then, they will occasionally put out additional covers ranging from holidays to conventions to auxiliary... and I pick them all up as I can. There was even a recent Holiday VIP cover that had a cover price of $29.99! Can you imagine? Needless to say... it's in my collection.
Vampirella from Dynamite Entertainment is another that generally publishes 4-6 regular covers, and then has additional retailer incentive covers depending on how many copies your LCS orders. These incentive covers, or RI's as their also known as, are a real pain for collectors and retailers alike. As I explained above, I don't receive the RI's for G.I. Joe because of lack of demand. My LCS reduced the number of issues he was ordering because the issues weren't selling. A very reasonable and responsible decision. When the LCS reduces the number they are ordering, they stop receiving the RI covers and OCD collector's like myself are forced to turn to the internet to aid in completing our collection.
From my recent experiences, it seems to me that Dynamite Entertainment produces more variants per title than most other publishers. Granted, I don't generally buy many variants from Marvel or DC, so my knowledge on this topic is a bit skewed. I know that for many of their titles, both DC and Marvel push the variants, but I don't think it's nearly as much as either Boundless with Lady Death or Dynamite Entertainment with any of their titles. I could be wrong.