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Comic Book Questions Answered – Is This Batman #0 Variant Cover a Scam?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.

Today we look into a Batman “variant cover” being sold on eBay.


Today, reader Jeff wrote in to ask:

I came across several Batman #0 comic books for sell on ebay with variant covers by “J. Gates former Disney artist.” I can find no mention of these variants anywhere. Do you know anything about them? Who exactly is J. Gates? How rare are these variant?

Here is one of the covers in question:

Here is a link to the eBay auction.

Well, Jeff, what Jay Gates is doing here is taking the blank cover variants that DC did for Batman #0 (that you could get at most retail stores for cover price) and then drawing on the cover and selling it as a “sketch variant.”

It likely is “rare,” in the sense that there are only as many as Gates personally drew.

But it is just an artist drawing on a blank cover. Here is the blank cover variant…

So Gates just drew on the blank cover and he (or a third party eBay seller) is now selling it for $30.

If you like Gates’ artwork enough to pay $30 for an original drawing, fair enough. But this is not any sort of official variant cover.

As to Jay Gates’ background, I don’t know. I looked him up but found no information. I would be interested in learning what work he has done for Disney.


I’d guess, based on this effort, that “Gates” is a guy who worked as a caricaturist at one of the parks. We’d know for sure if there’s another one with the Joker riding a skateboard or surfing.

wouldn’t a regular commission be worth more than $30?

Depends on the artist.

Wait, wait, wait, hold up a sec. A “Jeff” wrote in about a “J.” Gates and pointed to an ongoing eBay auction… I smell a sneaky self-promotion. “J” must have worked in Disney’s marketing department.

I see “J. Gates” is a slang term per the Urban Dictionary:


It looks to be fan art of the pre-New52 Joker.

It is sort of amazing that you can get a custom drawn cover.

But there is art under the logo and the credits. Did he draw around them?

But there is art under the logo and the credits. Did he draw around them?

I’d imagine, yes.

Wow, I totally want to get one of those blank covers and draw on it. Not to sell it or anything, just because that’s awesome.

The basic concept of blank covers (at least when they were first introduced) was that they’d be perfect for bringing to conventions and getting an artist to do a sketch on them (the Hero Project used that concept for the 100 Project collection for Ultimate Spider-Man #100, where famous artists all contributed drawings on the blank cover).

So yeah, I can imagine it would be fun to draw on them.

Anyone asked Rich Johnston where Rob Granito’s been lately? :)

One interesting thing to me is that the regular zero issues didn’t have the “We Can Be Heroes” banner up top — DC did that on the books a couple issues back.

So actually, thinking about it, it must be like those 100 Project books where the blank cover is being done specifically for that charity. And I’m guessing that this artist isn’t necessarily contributing to it.

On another note, I find it amusing that that charity uses the line from the Bowie song about 2 lovers, strung out on each other, near the Berlin Wall. With Robert Fripp guitar in the background. “You, you can be mean/and I, I’ll drink all the time”. Makes ME want to help the people of Africa.

I would love for a comic book expert to tell me when and why South Hinckley was changed to Sandy Hook. The conspiracy theorists are going nuts over this and I would like a logical answer….there’s gotta be one…right?? :)

You have to be careful with eBay. Back when I was just getting started with it, I purchased a set of Legion of Superheroes ID cards for $30, they included almost every member and I thought it was an old set from before I had started collecting. When they arrived, it turned out they were printed on copy paper surely on the guy’s home printer and placed inside cheap plastic card holders. I went back to look at the listing and found the key phrase that I had failed to correctly interpret – “custom-crafted” – that meant home made. The lesson is, anybody can sell almost anything, and if you buy without getting or understanding all of the information necessary, it’s your own fault. (I guess that was a pretty long-winded way of saying buyer beware.) Still, it’s a hell of an effort. He colored the DC logo and the little empty spaces beneath the B and the A’s in the Batman logo.

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