Have you noticed those exclusive variant comic book covers that you can only get when you go to a particular convention or specific comic book store? They can be hard to get, usually have a low print run, but it’s still something collectors enjoy hunting for. Well today, I’m going to share with you how to get a comic book publisher to print your own exclusive variant cover.

I’m going to share with you how to go about working with a comic book publisher to get your own exclusive variant comic book covers made. I can walk you through the steps of getting your own exclusive variant comic book covers made because I’ve already gone through them with my cohosts at the TransMissions Podcast.

You see, A few years ago we were looking for a fun way to get our Transformers themed podcast, TransMissions, noticed by Transformers fans. One idea we kept coming back to was creating an exclusive variant comic book cover to bring to conventions. One that you can only pick up through us with the podcast. A unique cover, with original art, and our podcast logo right there on the front.

It was a great idea and the four of us had a lot of fun coming up with cover design ideas. In the end, we designed to homage to issue 18 of the original 1980s Marvel Comics Transformers run. That cover featured Blaster battling Straxus on the planet of Cybertron.

Our cover was produced for issue 1 of IDW’s Transformers: Till All Are One. It features Windblade and Starscream battling it out on Cybertron. It’s a beautiful cover and I’m really proud to have had a small part in its creation.

So lets get into this. How do you go about having an exclusive variant cover made.

Step 1. ) Contact the comic book publisher directly. This may seem kind of obvious, but it’s the first step in the process. I’m pretty sure that all comic book publisher websites have a means of contacting them. You’re going to want to contact the comic book publisher and provide the following information.

  1. Introduce yourself. Who are you? Are you a comic book store owner? A podcaster?
  2. What comic book series do you want your cover to appear on? Spider-Man, Ghostbusters, Conan, Rick and Morty. Let the comic book publisher know which book you would like your exclusive cover to appear on. Feel free to suggest more than one title you’re willing to work with. This way you’re saving everyone several back and forth e-mails trying to pick a comic book title if your first choice isn’t an option for one reason or another.
  3. What Ideas do you have for your cover design? Will it be an homage? If it is provide reference art. Is it a unique design? Again, provide reference art. Even if it’s just stick figures. Something to work with is better than nothing. Comic book publishers and license holders (in our case Hasbro) need to approve of everything before you can go forward.
  4. What artist do you want? When we submitted our original request to IDW publishing we provide two artists. A primary choice and a secondary choice. We got our first choice.
  5. What Inker do you want? Again, just for the sake of saving back and for email chatter, provide two options.
  6. What Colorist do you want? Same as the others. Provide two choices you would like to work with.
  7. When would you like the comics by? When you plan to have a variant cover made you really have to allow a lot of lead time. Time for the artists to do the work. Time for the comic book publisher to the layout work for the cover. And of course, time for them to send the comic book files to whatever printing services they use to have the books printed and mailed out.

Step 2.) Contacting the Artists. Once your cover design is approved the next step can play out in a couple of different ways. It may be up to you to contact the artists and tell them about the variant cover that you and the comic book publisher have agreed to work on on. The comic book publisher may wish to contact or be involved with your contacting the artists to setup the job of creating the comic book cover you would like.

The hiccups you can run into here are that the artist could just be to busy with work and deadlines to take up your job.

Artist sent us early pencils to make sure he was interpreting our ideas correctly. Once we approved of what we saw, we were shown the finish pencils before the inks were applied.Art by Alex Milne

Our only change came when we saw the first rending of covers from the colorist. We originally asked the colors to give the cover an original G1 feel. This turned out to not work with the modern renderings of the Transformers used on the cover. So we asked the colors to go back and modernize the colors for us.

Colors by Josh Perez

Step 3.) Making sure everyone gets paid. The artists all have their own rate for what they expect to be paid for their work. This does not include the original pencils. If you want the original physical piece of artwork you can expect to pay for that separately. You’ll also have to pay for the comics themselves. When we did this the minimum order was 1000k copies that you will have to pay for at cost. This price will vary depending on the comic book publisher.


The host of the YOSHICAST and TRANSMISSIONS Podcast. Transformers enthusiast and comic book collector.

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Hey I know this is an old article but I just stumbled on it. I was curious if you knew if artists have to go through the same process. I’d love more than anything to do a Turtles cover, seeing as their idw same as transformers. Thanks Zac.

    1. Hey Zac, good question. If you’re an artist working for a comic book publisher you’ll be hired to work on a cover. If you are an independent artist who just wants his work on an official cover, yeah you pretty much have to go through the same process. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Is there a way that I can contact you to get more direct questions and get your opinion on it?

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