The Artgerm Effect: Looking at the Impact the Current King of Cover Artists has on Direct Market Orders

“You know that saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover?’” Bruno Batista of Dublin’s comic shop Bruno Batista asked me.

“It’s completely stupid.”

In Batista’s mind – and in the minds of I’m sure many who work in comic shops – covers are essential items. They are not just a piece of art; covers are a sales tool designed to draw a wandering customer’s eye and hopefully convince them to pick up the comic it belongs to. 9

“A good cover will sell extra copies of a book,” Batista added. “And some artists put out amazing looking covers all the time, so they get a following and they get the sales bump.

“Artgerm is one of those artists.”

Artgerm’s variant for Catwoman #15

Artgerm is an artist from Hong Kong named Stanley Lau, 10 and if you don’t know his name, you probably have seen his art. His gorgeous – if not occasionally repetitive – covers have become omnipresent on notable releases, especially if they happen to feature a woman really in any capacity. 11 There’s a good reason for that ubiquitous nature: they sell. Comic companies know it. Shops know it. Even he knows it.

“I’m considered the ‘B’ cover artist. 12 As you know, that is mainly to boost sales for the book,” Artgerm told The Comic Lounge. “I like to create a cover that (complements) the A cover, so people won’t choose to buy either or, they want to buy both covers.”

As I put together recent features on comic speculation and the impact delays have on comic orders, Artgerm kept coming up as not just someone who sells extra copies of comics, as Batista put it, but as someone who significantly impacts comic orders on a macro scale. Of course, that was largely built off anecdotal information or something I accidentally come across in research for other projects, so it was hardly confirmed. What discovering this made me wonder, though, was just how potent “The Artgerm Effect” – as I started calling it – really was. What kind of impact does a cover from the variant maestro have on comic orders in the direct market, besides the simple idea of “a lot?” We’re going to try and answer that in today’s longform.

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  1. Both the art and design on it, of course, as Batista noted.

  2. I’ll be referring to him as Artgerm for this piece, however.

  3. The artist’s covers will almost universally star a woman regardless if one stars in said comic.

  4. B covers are variants, but often of the open order variety. He does many non-open order covers as well. Also, A covers are the standard cover that comes with a comic. He doesn’t do as many of those.

  5. Both the art and design on it, of course, as Batista noted.

  6. I’ll be referring to him as Artgerm for this piece, however.

  7. The artist’s covers will almost universally star a woman regardless if one stars in said comic.

  8. B covers are variants, but often of the open order variety. He does many non-open order covers as well. Also, A covers are the standard cover that comes with a comic. He doesn’t do as many of those.

  9. Both the art and design on it, of course, as Batista noted.

  10. I’ll be referring to him as Artgerm for this piece, however.

  11. The artist’s covers will almost universally star a woman regardless if one stars in said comic.

  12. B covers are variants, but often of the open order variety. He does many non-open order covers as well. Also, A covers are the standard cover that comes with a comic. He doesn’t do as many of those.