The ComicBase 2021 Q3 Update: Over 60,000 New Listings, Better Variant Handling, and More

ComicBase 21.0.4, Our 3rd-quarter update of ComicBase 2021 has just been released and is ready for download. The new version boasts a database with almost 30,000 new comics (as well as over 33,000 new books and magazines), numerous program enhancements and speed-ups, and a whole new way of handling comics with huge numbers of variant covers.

The new version makes searching by barcode (e.g. Add by Barcode) several times faster than before, adds extensive new clean-up capabilities for notes, improves the look of several program dialogs on smaller laptop screens, and more. See the release notes for the full list of changes.

To get the new update, either use ComicBase's Internet > Check for Updates command. You can also down the fully updated program intaller directly from the download links on your Registrations page. Be sure to update your program soon, as you'll need to be running this new version to get new content updates, or take advantage of the new mobile features.

What comes after "Z"? Handling Comics with More than 26 Variants

A few months back, we had a deep dive into variants on the ComicBase Livestream to talk about the growing challenge that variants pose. In particular, we talked about what to do with the small, but growing number of comics which are released with so many variations that it's almost impossible to even given them a proper item designation. For instance what do you do with Godzilla: King of Monsters #1, which had over 50 store variants? Or the more than 100 variants for Dark Knight III: the Master Race #1?

Once upon a time in the early 1990s, when the world was young and variants were rare, it was common to give variants special, descriptive names like "Gold Edition", "Silver Edition", "Hologram Edition" etc. But as variants exploded in popularity throughout the 1990s, it became impossible to devise sensible schemes to designate the "Chromium Holofoil Silver-Logo Alternate Explicit-Convention Cover" -- or any of the other permutations that seemed to suddenly spring up everywhere. In resignation, we--and the rest of the industry--were forced to simply start designating variants by letter: "Variant A", "Variant B", and so on--with the notes giving the details of what made each edition special.

That worked about as well as anything... until Godzilla: King of the Monsters #1 was released, with the gimmick that any comic store ordering more than a certain number of issues would get their own variant cover, with the artist portraying Godzilla stomping on the store in question. Over 50 such variant covers were produced--but the alphabetical naming scheme capped out at "Z"--the 26th variant. Thinking this was a rare one-off, we did the only thing we could think of, and decided to abuse the "printing" field to allow us to assign different item numbers for the various store variants, even though they were really all 1st printings. This was a perhaps understandable, but less-than-optimal alternative which became increasingly strained as subsequent years saw more and more issues appear with more than 26 variants.

After considering numerous schemes, including Excel-style "AA", "AB", "AC", etc. naming (which had the twin disadvantages of being both unfamiliar to users, and conflicting with existing variants as soon as you hit "AE" -- already used for American Entertainment editions released in the 1990s), we decided to simply designate all variants after "Z" as "Variation 27" (V27), "Variation 28" (V28)... and so on for as far as we ever need to go.

Once you install ComicBase 21.0.4, you'll see that V27–V150 are automatically created in your variation lists, and the next content update will start using this scheme for redesignating the two-dozen or so issues which have so far exceeded 26 variants. If you own any of the upper-end variants of those issues, you should look to move your inventory under the new designations in order to get price updates on those issues, or post them for sale on Atomic Avenue. If you click the "Show unrecognized items" link in the summary window after downloading an update, you'll see a list of any issues in your collection which could use some attention in this regard. All this is admittedly an annoyance, but we're hoping that by getting out ahead of the problem of exploding variant counts now, we'll avoid a lot of pain later on, and we'll ready for whatever new variants those nutty publishers dream up in the future

Reminder: ComicBase 2017 and Earlier Web Support Ending on October 30

On October 30th, scheduled security enhancements to the ComicBase/Atomic Avenue servers will take effect, removing support for the less-secure file transfer protocols used by ComicBase 2017 and earlier. After that date, those older versions of ComicBase will be unable to save backups using Sidekick, or post sales files to Atomic Avenue.

If you're still using ComicBase 2017 or earlier, we strongly encourage you to upgrade to the current version under your Registrations page. ComicBase Free users can download the latest version of the software from the downloads page.