Writer Wars Round 3: Cravin the Comicbook Hunter Presents
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TO SIG OR NOT TO SIG, THAT IS THE QUESTION
What is a signed comic in your collection. What does it mean to you? There are many different perspectives of the topic as signed books has been around almost as long as the hobby itself. Let’s start with the earlier ages before moving into the modern.
In the beginning, having a comic book creator autograph your book was a special milestone in a collector’s journey. Collecting a book by a specific creator and having the opportunity to meet them at a convention, interact with them and get a signature as a take-away was something special. This enhanced your attachment to the creator, the title and that book specifically. There was an APPRECIATION that grew from that simple interaction. It’s that appreciation that is needed to propel the industry forward. Without fans, creators would not have work in the industry and the hobby would have been short lived. The appreciation of the artform that grew from meeting creators and getting signatures has moved the industry forward to what it is today.
Silver age, Bronze age, Copper age and now modern, books that had a signature were always more prized that raw books. The appreciation that helped the industry become as robust as it is now has changed over time. Appreciation has now transformed into Value, as in dollar value. And this transformation coincided with the emergence of the Grading Companies in the early 2000’s. CGC’s Signature Series and CBCS’s Yellow Label have been leading the charge from the beginning and still continue to do so today. Sigs have now morphed into Sigs + Remarks, something that writer Tom King likes to poke fun at from time to time.
Some of us in the community see this as a bonus to collecting, as we collect to invest nowadays. And a SS or Yellow label (to some extent) command a premium versus a good ole 9.8 blue label. Others see the monetization of Sigs as a big detractor from the hobby and prefer the cover art speak for itself. As I’ve said earlier, there are different perspectives on this topic. And there is no right answer. The way a person wants to collect is their own personal choice, their own voice. The only caveat to that is the market speaks the loudest.
Getting a signature from your favorite artist or writer now is a complex and at times expensive process. And some creators have taken this pivotal interaction with their fans and bastardized it to net them as much profit as possible. An extreme example, but let’s face it, anything this guy does is extreme…
Expensive and complex, bagging and boarding books in preparation for con signing (book prep) is a whole other thing by itself. Signature facilitators provide this service (some at a cost), vendors sell pre-made adhesive cutout windows that simplify the process a bit. All in the pursuit of a 9.8 SS/Yellow label. Artists that have earned a following are now themselves able to directly submit books to the grading companies, on behalf of the purchaser’s, minimizing the risk of not getting that 9.8
It has gotten to a point now that the interaction of creator and fan, the same interaction that got us to this point is completely bypassed. With credit card in hand, you can purchase that interaction online and weeks to months later, mail call. No travel expense to a con, no con ticket pricing, no waiting in line for your favorite writer/artist, just click and wait.
As bleak as that sounds, it has become a norm in the collecting culture. The hobby has grown to such an extent that there is an ACTUAL need for this type of collecting. Silver Lining, I’d say so? (Remember there is no right way nor wrong way to collecting.) Not to say that “this is the way of the future”, just that there is now room for this type of collecting. For instance, because of the popularity of comic books, creators from other countries that have made an impact in the industry are now able to make multiple appearances in North America per year.
Giving collectors a greater chance of meeting their favorite artist/writer and getting their signature. Stephanie Has a French artist, Kieron Gillen an English writer and both co-creators of DIE (Image Comics) will be appearing at TCAF (Toronto Comics Art Festival), a free admission even that celebrates the comic book art form. An event that might not have been possible in previous years.
And there are a lot of cons and festivals throughout the year that provide the opportunity for this sacred interaction between Fan and Creator. The practice of getting a Sig has not died, it’s just branched out to make more room for all the different ways to collect. And in the end, that’s what collecting is, a personal journey with a value that only the collector can know.