I am not sure how many times it’s brought up – at least a few dozen times a year – but no matter how many times it’s asked you always have two very opinionated sides. No, I am not talking about politics – I am talking about signatures. A while back Gary Miller was thinking about getting his Incredible Hulk #1 signed. I did all but beg him not to deface a piece of history like that – but he did it anyways. Of course, he can do as he wishes with his own property, but it still stings when I think about it. I hate scrolling through ebay and seeing just how many people have destroyed silver age comics with a markered autograph.
To me, having someone signing a comic is basically tarnishing what could be an otherwise perfect issue. Not only would I NOT pay for a signature I wouldn’t even buy an already signed comic. Now, I can see how you might want the writer – or artist – to sign a book they connected with but by doing this the book cannot be considered mint anymore – and one of the most infuriating things I see is when people have writers or artists sign books they had nothing to do with!
Stan Lee signing an Incredible Hulk #1 – okay, he wrote it – makes sense. Stan Lee signing Incredible Hulk #377 – NO! Makes no sense – yes, Stan Lee created the Hulk – but he has nothing to do with that issue! Having him sign a poster or something… okay… but an issue he had nothing to do with, come on! The worst part is, if you search out Stan Lee sigs on ebay you will get a huge amount of merchandise all signed by Stan. So it’s not like the signature is rare or anything – in fact, that’s pretty much all he does these days! He goes to cons and charges people to autograph stuff!
This is all being said, of course, as I show you more and more items that are signed in my collection. Well, there are a few ways I will get things signed: #1 – Trades – I will have a trade signed because a trade, for all intents and purposes, is a reprint of material that has already been published elsewhere.
#2 – A comic that is signed on the INSIDE – still defacing a comic – but at least the cover isn’t ruined by it – or I will have my extra copy of a comic signed. I would refuse to get my one and only copy signed. (Same thing applies to action figures)
Another way to get a comic signed – if you have a CGC comic – have them sign the case. You are not ruining the comic but at the same time you get the sig you’re looking for! Herb Trimpe is coming to the 2012 comic-con – I am planning on getting something signed by him – and it’s a CGC comic – I am doing exactly what I just described, having him sign the case.
#3 – I would have any poster signed. Original Art – by the artist ONLY – should be signed. Statues can be signed on the base ONLY. Have you seen some of these statues that people have signed on the statue itself? They have ruined the whole thing! It’s now an eyesore!
CGC now has a service called the Signature Series where they grade the comic AND authenticate the signature on the book. I see the good in this service as it is impossible for forgers to pass off bunk sigs on graded books – but this is where I am most astounded – who pays more for an autograph? I have a whole bunch of stuff signed – it’s not really something I care about – what I hold dear is the memory of how I got the autograph.
For example, here is Bruce Cambell’s signature inside his “If Chins Could Kill” book:
It’s made out to me and I remember pretty much everything about that night. Meeting him, how nice he was, cordial, looking to talk to his fans rather than just sign and then move along to the next guy. It was fantastic! That’s what I think about when I see this.
When I look at the Herb Trimpe signatures I think about the first commission I had him do for me – in the email he sent he said to send along a few comics and he will sign them. So I sent a few extras and they all came back signed – it was a nice extra that he did for me (I think I sent one of them to Fiddy) – but no way would I have paid for that! I can’t wrap my head around why people would actually PAY to have people sign something – or even worse – pay a premium for something that is already autographed. I mean, where is the memory in that?
I know I may sound pretty harsh on signatures – but it’s one of the issues that has no shades of grey to me. You might say “But doesn’t it add value to your comic?” and I would say… Yes and No. Yes, obviously there are some collectors out there who are ready to pay a premium for a simple scribble on a cover – but they are a very select group. You have now made your collectible less collectible to other collectors. So, who is in the majority? The people who like signatures on there comics – or people who would rather have a clean comic – I feel a poll coming on!
One of the most signatures in my collection is Trimpe’s – on the box of a Hulk bust. Yup, someone had him sign the box… I have no idea why. I wanted the bust and this particular auction was going for a decent price so I got it – but the signature had no bearing on my choice to purchase it. In fact, to be completely honest, I thought it was pretty silly that someone had him sign the box – a box that ended up in storage in my attic.
But anyways, let me know what you think – do you guys out there collect signatures? Would you pay a premium for one? And why?