Whitman Variants, Direct vs Newsstand
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212 posts
15 hours ago, Get Marwood & I said:

The time period follows that of the US priced slashed barcode UPCs. They would have had two US cents priced starting point choices from which to create the pence covers from June 1979 - the newsstand and the diamond 'early directs'. They chose the latter for reasons unknown to me. It may have been deliberate, it may have been the flip of a coin or an unconcious decision. Price Variants are usually 'newsstand' books, i.e. they follow the US newsstand barcode UPC format. Canadian and Australian price variants are all barcode UPCs. I'm not sure why pence copies have the direct style slashed barcode and then picture UPCs which are associated with directs. I did a piece about this in my Marvel pence thread a while back. Maybe someone reading here will have some insight. 

This looks like a printing order thing. Like maybe they ran the newsstand, then changed the price slug to pence & swapped out the barcode & then changed the price slug to a diamond, but kept the slashed direct barcode (or Spidey head).

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, comicwiz said:

If it wasn't currency accurate, perhaps it was not updated to the change in price. I mean if you look at the Cap 198's barcode with a 10p cover price, and the Cap 234 with a 12p cover price, they seem to have the same barcodes despite there being a 2p increase.

My experience of barcodes is that they don't come with prices pre-loaded. They're only there to identify the product, not necessarily the price.

Also, they were purely decorative over here. Very few UK retailers in the 70s, especially retailers of comics, would have had anything more sophisticated than a biscuit tin to complete their transactions. The only early adopters of barcode technology were grocery stores. When I was running comic shops in Birmingham & Nottingham for Stateside in the early 90s we had to manually enter 16 digit codes for every damn thing because they were too cheap-*ss to buy a barcode scanner.

Edited by rakehell

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10 hours ago, rakehell said:

In the 70s, though, these stickers seem to be the norm -

mag1.thumb.jpg.34319846623ced690812ea50c6b2a7a0.jpgmag2.thumb.jpg.b7d0b1f39a001f4241e43ab03ad7e042.jpgmag3.thumb.jpg.de0e1c97f94fde9422d45e8fe2649332.jpg

Don't know at what point in the distribution process the stickers were stuck, or by whom. They look too uniform to be shop stickers. (shrug)

Yes, I post about those in my Gold Key thread:

On 6/29/2019 at 12:28 PM, Get Marwood & I said:

 

2145064839_TomandJerry2656pSticker.thumb.jpg.1f5ff86ca97a86d669eb7bb1762b5c36.jpg 392543813_TomandJerry2666pSticker.thumb.jpg.d3e5c63282a56ceadc4709aef403be4f.jpg

 

The 6p stickers are very similar to the font used on the later printed copies:

6p1.jpg.6f6ee0859993aa1b55dc708b03c472a9.jpg 6p2.png.d253a50b17159f5d700d66b8955a4c45.png

 

Given the similarity, and the multiple copies seen, it must have been an 'official' process wouldn't you say, that led on to the copies with printed prices? 

We'll probably never know...

This extract from an early 1970's fanzine talks about Thorpe & Porter winding up:

tap.png.ed1c57f26a8e2dea52db13c914f7d284.png

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On 3/5/2020 at 3:02 AM, bababooey said:

Argument?  I'm not trying to rename an era when books were being published or correcting people using a term that has been used and accepted for decades....I'm nostalgic for the era because it was my gateway to the hobby, nothing more than that, I don't care if we agree on "direct market whitmans" since all parties agree that Whitman was the largest early direct customer...why anyone would want to call them "direct adjective adjective" when there is clearly a difference from this era to the nationwide direct market era where EVERYTHING is readily available in the direct version. (shrug)

However, when you and @RockMyAmadeus call them "Direct Market Experimental Program" issues in the future, I'll make it my personal goal to follow those discussions on here and they'll look like this.

RMA:  No, these are DMEP copies because...paragraph paragraph paragraph :blahblah:

Lazyboy: yeah, what he said was right and you all are stupid :sumo:

Random boardie: what? :p

bababooey: :gossip: they're talking about Whitmans

Everyone: oh okay thanks :whatev:

:grin:

Here's an image from my old Spidey files Bababooey, back when I was collecting all variations of ASM.

Interesting that whilst referring to them as 'Early Direct Editions' I still stuck 'Whitman' in parenthesis:

whit.PNG.f2b4715e8e03b62e619eb2ee32034189.PNG

 

For some reason I could never personally take to ASM #193 onwards - the slash barcode copies - as being in scope despite evidence to the contrary. I called #193 on Direct Editions in my documents. Albeit this early prototype uses the dreaded Whitman word I see :eek:

whit2.thumb.PNG.58e5146a1c48aac55ac6d974f82813f5.PNG

FD, SBC, G. What a load of old carp lol

I do think it's important to describe things correctly - I wouldn't have hassled Matt Nelson about CGC's erroneous use of 'UK Editions' on their labels if I didn't - but I think it's a shame when people with obvious comic passion get hammered for using the 'wrong words' or for making broad but fairly reasonable assumptions in their research.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2020 at 7:08 PM, Warlord said:

Anyone else up for taking a shot at these questions?   I'll post my own random musings on the first two questions eventually but was hoping we'd get some other opinions too.  For the third question, I have no idea and wonder what would be the oldest example usage that could be found.

Direct means they could not be returned for refunds like their newsstand counterparts. This started happening in the 70s and became more prevalent in the 80s. Check out all the books in the attached photo from 1982. All direct editions that were sold in packs, were also being sold individually. 

054C275F-FFF3-4581-81D4-E65C97FA39DC.thumb.png.3f2de8e9758a7f3406a6c0e8af078a97.png

Edited by bellrules

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16 hours ago, bellrules said:

Direct means they could not be returned for refunds like their newsstand counterparts. This started happening in the 70s and became more prevalent in the 80s. Check out all the books in the attached photo from 1982. All direct editions that were sold in packs, were also being sold individually. 

054C275F-FFF3-4581-81D4-E65C97FA39DC.thumb.png.3f2de8e9758a7f3406a6c0e8af078a97.png

That pic is from well after the period being discussed.  No one has provided any proof that comic stores sold single copies of the whitman/early direct issues distributed between 77-79.  I'm sure it happened in some limited cases since I think this was a period of trial and error, I personally bought a bunch of 25 cent giant sizers and other books from 1975 (ASM 149, Avengers 138, DD 124 etc..) in 1977 back when I was buying everything in three packs that I could get my hands on. 

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I understand what everyone has said. What should they be called?

1. If they are called Whitmans seems highly contestable. 

2. If they are refered to as "Direct Market Issues" then that seems to conflict with the "Newsstand UPC / Direct Edition Logo" versions that pop up later. That seems confusing to me. Most certainly will be confusing to upstart collectors and people trying to get into this hobby.

3. Can we just agree to call them "Diamond Editions"? It would appear that they are indeed books with a Diamond logo in the top left? 

Anyone have a problem with that moving forward? I realize people are already calling them what they call them but it seems like a few good reasons in this post reflect a need for clarity?

Thanks again,

Brian W

<slpfi27>

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Posted (edited)
On 2/15/2020 at 2:46 AM, slpfi27 said:

Greetings, fellow CGC Members

 

 

PROBLEM: The Whitman Issues are also CLEARLY different as they have a Black Box with a White Diamond.

 

Brian W

<slpfi27>

 

For people that don't know what i mean, here is what i'm talking about i've added some photo's for you awesome people!

 

 

 

 

20200214_232938.jpg

20200214_232339.jpg

Picture.jpg

Be careful, I asked kind of the same question and instead of a helpful answer seems some cared more about me calling it a diamond. One of my very first questions was also met with the immature inputs that made me leave the forum for a while. There are some here that think it is a place to be a smart @&& , while many others are very very helpful, I mean will go above and beyond to help find an answer. Don't let it bother you as it did me at first as a newbie seeking the help from those that really know and have experience. Best to just over look them and move on to the real people who wish to help. I wish I could answer your question cause I feel collectors of such runs would search high and low for these variants that seem to not be considered as such. welcome to the CGC forum and hope you find your answer. Peace.

Edited by ghost of the wild
missed a word

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Posted (edited)

If there is Marvel book with a barcode box, that does not contain a barcode, it should be considered a direct market copy. What’s in that box over the years, has changed. From blank, to line through a barcode, to Spidey and Captain America heads. The diamond heads were there so vendors could not return these books. (They didn’t have to send back the entire book, just the masthead.) Eventually, those changes led to small diamonds, to Marvel M’s. Its how the direct market for Marvel books evolved. Marvel sent Whitman stacks of books that were non-returns, and let them sell them to other venues than newsstands. It’s the evolution of the direct market for that publisher. 

Edited by bellrules

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On 4/6/2020 at 2:05 AM, slpfi27 said:

I understand what everyone has said. What should they be called?

1. If they are called Whitmans seems highly contestable. 

2. If they are refered to as "Direct Market Issues" then that seems to conflict with the "Newsstand UPC / Direct Edition Logo" versions that pop up later. That seems confusing to me. Most certainly will be confusing to upstart collectors and people trying to get into this hobby.

3. Can we just agree to call them "Diamond Editions"? It would appear that they are indeed books with a Diamond logo in the top left? 

Anyone have a problem with that moving forward? I realize people are already calling them what they call them but it seems like a few good reasons in this post reflect a need for clarity?

Thanks again,

Brian W

<slpfi27>

The problem with this is pretty simple.  Those of us that were actively buying comics in 70s know the square diamond was only sold in 3 packs many, many months later by Whitman.  They were, are, and always will be reprints.  Most of the people trying to rebrand them now as “direct market” either started buying comics well after these came out (in which case they just don’t know what they’re talking about) or have been hoarding the Whitman reprints and want to drum up the value (which is slimy).  In either case, they’re wrong.

Don’t believe the hype.

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7 hours ago, Randall Dowling said:

The problem with this is pretty simple.  Those of us that were actively buying comics in 70s know the square diamond was only sold in 3 packs many, many months later by Whitman.  They were, are, and always will be reprints.  Most of the people trying to rebrand them now as “direct market” either started buying comics well after these came out (in which case they just don’t know what they’re talking about) or have been hoarding the Whitman reprints and want to drum up the value (which is slimy).  In either case, they’re wrong.

Don’t believe the hype.

You don't know jack. Anybody who was around back then would only have been able to see a single piece of a 1000-piece puzzle, so their experience by itself is basically meaningless.

They are not, and never were, reprints. Only the extremely ignorant would try to argue that at this point in time.

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On 4/6/2020 at 2:05 AM, slpfi27 said:

2. If they are refered to as "Direct Market Issues" then that seems to conflict with the "Newsstand UPC / Direct Edition Logo" versions that pop up later. That seems confusing to me. Most certainly will be confusing to upstart collectors and people trying to get into this hobby.

Direct editions have had many different looks over the years, so I guess you'll always be confused. (shrug)

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Lazyboy said:

Direct editions have had many different looks over the years, so I guess you'll always be confused. (shrug)

Or you’re the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  (shrug)

Since I’ve first heard this bonkers rewriting of history to legitimize Whitman reprints, I’ve asked several friends (who also collected comics in the 70s) about it.  To a one, they all laughed and said somebody’s pulling a scam.

I love how actually being around during the 70s and collecting comics somehow means I know less than people who weren’t.  :screwy:

Edited by Randall Dowling
Clarification

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9 minutes ago, Randall Dowling said:

Or you’re the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.  (shrug)

Since I’ve first heard this bonkers rewriting of history to legitimize Whitman reprints, I’ve asked several friends (who also collected comics in the 70s) about it.  To a one, they all laughed and said somebody’s pulling a scam.

I love how actually being around during the 70s and collecting comics somehow means I know less than people who weren’t.  :screwy:

I love how actually being around during the 70s and collecting comics means you know when everything was printed and saw how books were distributed everywhere rather than just in your area.

Again, printing means printing and distribution means distribution. Different things.

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I long regarded them as reprints, but have become convinced they are not. I'm comfortable calling them Whitmans, while recognizing they may well have been distributed by multiple companies.

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8 hours ago, Lazyboy said:

You don't know jack. Anybody who was around back then would only have been able to see a single piece of a 1000-piece puzzle, so their experience by itself is basically meaningless.

They are not, and never were, reprints. Only the extremely ignorant would try to argue that at this point in time.

I do not understand why we cannot have a polite conversation. Statements like "you don't know jack" is rude. It discourages people from commenting and gaining knowledge. I am tired of people who think in absolutes without facts to back it up. Without facts, we are just stating a bunch of opinions. Please have respect when you comment to people on these forums. We all have different levels of knowledge regarding comics. I am sure all of us have careers and degrees and can respect that we share one thing in common. A passion and love for comic books.

I am trying to picture the various people who have commented on these forums laying the verbal “smackdown” on somebody you disagree with. Do you post the smack, then stand up fluff your chest and say, “I really showed that guy!” Does this really make you feel monovalent or superior to your fellow boardie’s? I’m just saying if that is your intent I am not impressed.

Let’s have a good conversation and stop "mad typing" like you’re ticked off and have something to prove. We are having a discussion let’s keep it respectful. 

Back to the discussion…

I would consider myself an expert on collecting “Spectacular Spider-Man #1-263 1st Series” so let’s use this set specifically for timeline and discussion. This will keep context and focus on a single title in the discussion for now. Feel free to look at the high resolutions scans on my set to reference scans of each book to reference. (Still working on it) set name "Nuff Said"

Here is my open thoughts, and I am curious what you think?

Spectacular Spider-Man Issues with a Diamond are as follows. #03 (Feb 1977), #04 (Mar 1977), #06 (May 1977) , #07 (June 1977), #08 (July 1977), #09 (August 1977), #10 (Sept 1977), #11 (Oct 1977), #12 (Nov, 1977), #13 (Dec 1977) #18 (May 1978), #21 (Aug 1978), #22 (Sep 1978), #24 (Nov 1978), #25 (Dec 1978), #26 (Jan 1979), #27 (Feb 1979), #30 (May 1979), | #31 - #36 will have a Diamond WITH a UPC Slash, or a UPC. (continue reading before you get stuck here.)

1. NOT all Diamond Issues are "Whitman’s" clearly, we have seen another boardie prove this. Diamonds came in bags from other distributors. So we KNOW that calling them Whitman’s is inaccurate. Even if it is popular.

2. ALL Newsstand Copies have barcodes.

3. Definition of Direct Editions: Direct Edition comics are comics which are sold exclusively through the Direct Sales market, which is now the dominant way of distributing comic books in the United States. It means the comics won't be found in places like convenience stores and Walmart.  

4. We know about the distribution problems and shenanigans that caused a reason for needing a difference between Direct and Newsstand. As of 1979 we start calling Diamonds “Direct Market Editions” EVEN THOUGH, we know Barcode versions were sold to direct distributors and Whitman’s or Diamond Marked Bagged issues could be found in spinning racks at Grocery stores. So, things are all messed up starting off. (We agree? It was an imperfect process at first.) 

5. As a collector of books (me personally). I want as many variants and rare stories as I can find. To collect them I need to establish a difference between common and rare. What do I call the various different variants of each book? How will I know if it is rare or not? How will I search for them? How will I create a standard of variants now and in the future? Calling these books Direct Market Editions is not fair and doesn’t classify them for what they are “SPECIAL”. After issue #31 Direct Versions are a dime a dozen, and 9.8 Galore! Newsstands are rare, and Early Diamonds and 35 Cent Variants near impossible!

6. Again, Newsstand Copies have UPC and Direct Editions have Marking that makes them direct (UPC Slash, and Character head box). That is GREAT! I am fine calling marked books (without UPC) Direct Editions starting at Spectacular Spider-Man #31. After #31 Books with a UPC Newsstand Editions. (forgive me if I repeat myself. I am trying to make a point.)

7. For #04, #06, #07, #08, #09, #10, #11, #12, #13, #18, #21, #22, #24, #25, #26, #27, #30 these books need to be called “Diamonds Editions” (or something different) in my opinion. The intent behind what they should be was not an EXACT science and certainly was not executed perfectly. These books are RARE, hard to find,and darn near impossible to locate in perfect/near perfect quality. Does this sound like any Direct Edition you know of? Clearly something was different about their safety. If these books are Direct to Distributors then why are they uncommon? Why are they severely damaged? Where are the pristine survivors? If these are DIRECT to the Distributors, why don’t we see hundreds of CGC 9.8’s of these books? These books were destroyed! Pre-Issue #31 you will find it near impossible to locate one. Marvel must have got their act together after issue #31. Because, we can clearly see the understood definition of Direct vs Newsstand. Before then, it was something CLEARLY different!

8. We know these books are not all 100% Whitman’s, and they are not 100% Direct Editions by the afore mentioned reasons. I think we all agree that there is solid debate on what is and what is not. Why not just call the early Diamonds, “Diamond Editions” it’s a split down the middle?  

9. There are many titles and the Story of the Diamonds will continue. There is something CERTAINLY different about the difficulty of how well these books survived the years.

Final comment, I am willing to bet if everyone gets off the Soap box and really thinks about this, you will blow my mind with your intellect and change my opinion, OR you will see it my way. I look forward to less chicken chest comments and more intellectual and respectful debate.

Thoughts?

 

Brian W.

<slpfi27>

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10 minutes ago, slpfi27 said:

I do not understand why we cannot have a polite conversation. Statements like "you don't know jack" is rude. It discourages people from commenting and gaining knowledge. I am tired of people who think in absolutes without facts to back it up. Without facts, we are just stating a bunch of opinions. Please have respect when you comment to people on these forums. We all have different levels of knowledge regarding comics. I am sure all of us have careers and degrees and can respect that we share one thing in common. A passion and love for comic books.

I am trying to picture the various people who have commented on these forums laying the verbal “smackdown” on somebody you disagree with. Do you post the smack, then stand up fluff your chest and say, “I really showed that guy!” Does this really make you feel monovalent or superior to your fellow boardie’s? I’m just saying if that is your intent I am not impressed.

Let’s have a good conversation and stop "mad typing" like you’re ticked off and have something to prove. We are having a discussion let’s keep it respectful. 

Back to the discussion…

I would consider myself an expert on collecting “Spectacular Spider-Man #1-263 1st Series” so let’s use this set specifically for timeline and discussion. This will keep context and focus on a single title in the discussion for now. Feel free to look at the high resolutions scans on my set to reference scans of each book to reference. (Still working on it) set name "Nuff Said"

Here is my open thoughts, and I am curious what you think?

Spectacular Spider-Man Issues with a Diamond are as follows. #03 (Feb 1977), #04 (Mar 1977), #06 (May 1977) , #07 (June 1977), #08 (July 1977), #09 (August 1977), #10 (Sept 1977), #11 (Oct 1977), #12 (Nov, 1977), #13 (Dec 1977) #18 (May 1978), #21 (Aug 1978), #22 (Sep 1978), #24 (Nov 1978), #25 (Dec 1978), #26 (Jan 1979), #27 (Feb 1979), #30 (May 1979), | #31 - #36 will have a Diamond WITH a UPC Slash, or a UPC. (continue reading before you get stuck here.)

1. NOT all Diamond Issues are "Whitman’s" clearly, we have seen another boardie prove this. Diamonds came in bags from other distributors. So we KNOW that calling them Whitman’s is inaccurate. Even if it is popular.

2. ALL Newsstand Copies have barcodes.

3. Definition of Direct Editions: Direct Edition comics are comics which are sold exclusively through the Direct Sales market, which is now the dominant way of distributing comic books in the United States. It means the comics won't be found in places like convenience stores and Walmart.  

4. We know about the distribution problems and shenanigans that caused a reason for needing a difference between Direct and Newsstand. As of 1979 we start calling Diamonds “Direct Market Editions” EVEN THOUGH, we know Barcode versions were sold to direct distributors and Whitman’s or Diamond Marked Bagged issues could be found in spinning racks at Grocery stores. So, things are all messed up starting off. (We agree? It was an imperfect process at first.) 

5. As a collector of books (me personally). I want as many variants and rare stories as I can find. To collect them I need to establish a difference between common and rare. What do I call the various different variants of each book? How will I know if it is rare or not? How will I search for them? How will I create a standard of variants now and in the future? Calling these books Direct Market Editions is not fair and doesn’t classify them for what they are “SPECIAL”. After issue #31 Direct Versions are a dime a dozen, and 9.8 Galore! Newsstands are rare, and Early Diamonds and 35 Cent Variants near impossible!

6. Again, Newsstand Copies have UPC and Direct Editions have Marking that makes them direct (UPC Slash, and Character head box). That is GREAT! I am fine calling marked books (without UPC) Direct Editions starting at Spectacular Spider-Man #31. After #31 Books with a UPC Newsstand Editions. (forgive me if I repeat myself. I am trying to make a point.)

7. For #04, #06, #07, #08, #09, #10, #11, #12, #13, #18, #21, #22, #24, #25, #26, #27, #30 these books need to be called “Diamonds Editions” (or something different) in my opinion. The intent behind what they should be was not an EXACT science and certainly was not executed perfectly. These books are RARE, hard to find,and darn near impossible to locate in perfect/near perfect quality. Does this sound like any Direct Edition you know of? Clearly something was different about their safety. If these books are Direct to Distributors then why are they uncommon? Why are they severely damaged? Where are the pristine survivors? If these are DIRECT to the Distributors, why don’t we see hundreds of CGC 9.8’s of these books? These books were destroyed! Pre-Issue #31 you will find it near impossible to locate one. Marvel must have got their act together after issue #31. Because, we can clearly see the understood definition of Direct vs Newsstand. Before then, it was something CLEARLY different!

8. We know these books are not all 100% Whitman’s, and they are not 100% Direct Editions by the afore mentioned reasons. I think we all agree that there is solid debate on what is and what is not. Why not just call the early Diamonds, “Diamond Editions” it’s a split down the middle?  

9. There are many titles and the Story of the Diamonds will continue. There is something CERTAINLY different about the difficulty of how well these books survived the years.

Final comment, I am willing to bet if everyone gets off the Soap box and really thinks about this, you will blow my mind with your intellect and change my opinion, OR you will see it my way. I look forward to less chicken chest comments and more intellectual and respectful debate.

Thoughts?

 

Brian W.

<slpfi27>

In regards to your point (7) about the early direct books being tougher to find, it makes sense as the majority of books in that era, were sold through newsstand distribution. The scale didn’t tip the other way until the late 80’s with the explosion of comic shops. Direct market books from that era are rarer due to that being the secondary method of distribution at that time. There’s no need to différenciante them from other direct market books. They probably didn’t print as many in the early days of direct market as they were testing the waters. They’re not different than any other direct books. 

 

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1 hour ago, bellrules said:

In regards to your point (7) about the early direct books being tougher to find, it makes sense as the majority of books in that era, were sold through newsstand distribution. The scale didn’t tip the other way until the late 80’s with the explosion of comic shops. Direct market books from that era are rarer due to that being the secondary method of distribution at that time. There’s no need to différenciante them from other direct market books. They probably didn’t print as many in the early days of direct market as they were testing the waters. They’re not different than any other direct books. 

 

This is an interesting comment, and I can see that point of view. Infact this is the most compelling thought I have heard on this subject. I will need to reflect on this one.

However, as I think about this. If there were not many distributors to need "Direct Market Editions" then why would they need to have a reason to stop the returns in the first place? Just thinking about it. I agree though, there were certainly not that many shops as exploded in the 80's. 

Great comment Bellrules! 

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12 hours ago, slpfi27 said:

I do not understand why we cannot have a polite conversation. Statements like "you don't know jack" is rude. It discourages people from commenting and gaining knowledge. I am tired of people who think in absolutes without facts to back it up.

I am trying to picture the various people who have commented on these forums laying the verbal “smackdown” on somebody you disagree with. Do you post the smack, then stand up fluff your chest and say, “I really showed that guy!” Does this really make you feel monovalent or superior to your fellow boardie’s? I’m just saying if that is your intent I am not impressed.

Let’s have a good conversation and stop "mad typing" like you’re ticked off and have something to prove. We are having a discussion let’s keep it respectful.

So what do you call this?

On 4/7/2020 at 7:52 AM, Randall Dowling said:

Those of us that were actively buying comics in 70s know the square diamond was only sold in 3 packs many, many months later by Whitman.  They were, are, and always will be reprints.

That is quite dismissive of anybody who wasn't alive and buying comics at the time, as if simply being there provided any insight into printing and distribution practices.

I find it interesting how you didn't feel the need to comment on that.

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13 hours ago, slpfi27 said:

2. ALL Newsstand Copies have barcodes.

3. Definition of Direct Editions: Direct Edition comics are comics which are sold exclusively through the Direct Sales market, which is now the dominant way of distributing comic books in the United States. It means the comics won't be found in places like convenience stores and Walmart.  

This (#2) is a very good observation and, I believe, completely correct.  The fundamental purpose of the barcode is to be scanned which (even today) pretty much no comic shop had setup.  And I believe the definition of the direct market is local comic books stores (and the various hybrid baseball card/comic shops).  I haven't heard anyone try to claim that the Whitman books were sold individually.  Nobody I know, ever saw them for sale any other way than in the multi-packs.  And they were only sold in places like Walmart, Toys R Us, etc.

I think most importantly though, is that somebody in charge of sales and distribution at Marvel made a very conscious choice to make them look different than the newsstand copies.  I know this seems easily confused with what eventually became the standard "skinny" diamond that was sold to comic shops but at the time it was pretty straight forward.

Last, and I can't emphasize this enough, the Whitman books did not show up for sale at the same time as the newsstand copies.  They showed up in packs many, many months (sometimes years) later (never in comic book stores) and they had the "square" diamond.  I don't know how to interpret that any other way than Marvel found a way to sell more copies later and they changed the cover so they didn't look like the copies that had already come out.  If that's not the definition of a later issue, or later edition, or reprint, I don't know what is. 2c 

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