Hastings versus Fried Pie Variants
If you are new to collecting, you might not have seen a Fried Pie or Hastings variant.
Hastings was a popular new/used media store. If your town had one it was your one-stop shop for the latest Music, Funko, or Comic. Hastings would have their own covers before store exclusives were common. I was just beginning to get into comics as Hastings stores were closing. I remember being overwhelmed by the sheer number of variants almost every Marvel book had one. The reason Hastings could have so many variants is the same reason Walmart can have their own Variants for multiple books. Spread the books over 100s of stores and no store is responsible for selling more than 20 copies. They also had a website the last few years you could order some of their back issue variants. Hastings variants never had big value they were typically only a few dollars more than the cover price. Over the past few years, some Hastings Variants have begun to climb in price. There were some great covers, but many times these covers would sit on shelves getting bent until they get moved to bargain bins. NM copies are starting to demand interest. Here are some to look out for. Most still sit in the $5-$15 range, but the Obi Wan book has climbed and a few of the key Spider-man books. It seems like 2014-2016 were the hey day years for Hastings variants. This is also a reason many of the books had high print runs. Loot Crate Boxes and massive big box store exclusives.
Fried Pie Variants
Fried Pie Variants were commonly found at Books a Million (BAM). They made exclusives starting around the same time as Hastings, but they continued making until they quit carrying comics. around 2017 (DC Dark Nights Metal) I remember popping into a BAM near me and buying multiple copies of the last few exclusives for a dollar each. Their exclusives came in polybags and you will come across them in back issue bins still. Like Hastings these books are still found cheap, but as books gain significance, (America, Kanan, Rick and Morty) these will climb. There are some awesome covers to collect.
I am just sharing these with you because I think sometimes we forget just how good some of these big box store exclusives could be. Many of these were the only exclusives for a particular title because these years only a few stores would risk doing an exclusive. The pandemic brought more awareness to the exclusive game. People were left at home to search for comics and eventually you would find the stores that sell exclusives. Stores around me developed a stronger online presence. They stocked their eBay stores then developed and a web store of their own. They started hosting Facebook Auctions and finally with creation of WhatNot stores that embrace the win more loose some format have had huge success. WhatNot has created a place for stores to sell and premiere their exclusives to a wider audience than just their mailing list. The bigger win is artists are taking advantage to release their own exclusives, while interacting with their fans. Tyler Kirkham, Mike Mayhew, Garrett Gunn have all hosted/participated in WhatNot Auction shows.