Getting Your Comic Book Signed: Good Move or Bad Idea?

Collecting comics can be a pretty fun, if not costly hobby. It requires keeping up with current market prices as well as the know-how of what makes a quality book.

A lot of that weighs heavily on the cover. Having an original, un-restored version of the book cover is important, along with it having vibrant colours. Also having a cover fully intact improves the overall price of a book.

But what about when a creator signs a book? What happens then?

Surely if you have a copy of Captain America #1 signed by Jack Kirby, you’d be sitting on a goldmine, right? What about a copy of Showcase #22 featuring a signature from Gil Kane?

Chances are actually, the book would be worth less.

Before you start shouting at the screen or balling your eyes out, let’s find out why – and see if you can do anything about it.

A lot of this hooplah about the quality of the book degrading over a signature can be somewhat blamed on the company, the Certified Grading Company, or the CGC. For a more in depth synopsis of the CGC, check out what I wrote about them in the past.

CGC Hulk 340

But if you wish to keep reading, I’ll make it simple: the CGC is considered the best of the best when it comes to grading comic books, magazines, cards, and many other types of relatively-flat, printed collectibles. If you get your book graded by the CGC, chances are the price of your book can increase by a small or large margin.

Considering there are a lot of scams within the comic book collecting hobby, the CGC are considered the best place to go to get the “truth” behind a comic book. Through their grading process, they have experts in restoration check to make sure the book is in its original form. From there, they will go through the entire book to guarantee the book is up to par and not missing any pages. At the end of the evaluation, they assign a grade on the book from .5 (Poor), to 10 (Gem Mint).

The CGC will then put the book in a transparent case along with a coloured label to tell the viewer what kind of book they are looking at. Blues are the most common as they represent basic, graded books. A Purple banner means the book has been restored, while a Gold banner means it has an authentic signature.

While I could write different stories about the other banners (which you can read in the blog I made about them), it is the Gold banner we’ll be focusing on. The Gold banner stands for the “Signature Series.”

Because the CGC has become a staple in the grading process, the general comic collecting community has agreed (somewhat – but that’s also a whole other article for another day) that what the CGC says is authentic, and so the books should be sold as such.

For example, if you have a non-CGC graded book (or an “unslabbed” book), it may only be worth $50. However, if you get your book slabbed, it may suddenly be seen as $100, or even more. That’s great news, no?

But with signatures, it gets tricky.

If you say, have a copy of Captain America #1 signed by Jack Kirby before his death in 1994, you cannot submit it for a Gold banner to the CGC. Even if you have photos or video of the event happening, they will not consider it for the Signature Series. This is because a CGC representative was not present at the time of the signing.

To receive a Gold banner for the Signature Series, a CGC representative must be present to witness the signature. Nowadays, CGC goes to just about every major comic book convention. It’s great money for them to do it. If you get a book signed by Neal Adams or Stan Lee with CGC present, they’ll grant you the Signature Series banner. But CGC only began in 2000, with their Signature Series starting in 2001.

Any books prior to 2001 cannot be submitted for the Signature Series as a CGC representative, nor the company, would not have been present.

That being said, you can set up a CGC-approved witness for a signing by contacting the company.

CGC Buffy

So let’s get back to the slabbing of the book.

For unslabbed books with a signature, the books are considered – to many collectors – not valuable, solely because there is no guarantee who signed it. Even if you have videos, pictures, and a great story to go along with it, CGC set the standard to signature books. A collector may be hesitant to purchase a book even if you provide the proof. This is only because in their minds, they may be aware of the CGC “standards” of the comic collecting industry.

So if an unslabbed book is worth $50, and slabbed it’s $100, surely a Signature Series book will increase the value even more, right?

Yet again, I’m poised to say the answer is both yes and no.

Why it may increase in value: a signed book that is authenticated by the CGC is considered more valuable than a signed book that is not authenticated. The reason is that CGC guarantees the book was signed by the signer. There’s no if, ands, or buts about it. They guarantee to the buyer that the signature is real, and thus it would not depreciate the price of the book. They guarantee the signature is not just a “scribble.” It’s actually a signature by Jim Lee!

On why it’s not increased in value: sometimes you get buyers who do not want a signature on a book – that it “ruins” the artwork on the cover. Even if CGC authorized the signature, it still may not be what the buyer wants. Effectively, that signature may have just shunned away a potential buyer.

Personally, I hesitate to buy an already signed CGC book solely because I wasn’t there to have the story of its signing. While yes, there would be provenance through the CGC, the provenance is not mine. Therefore I would second guess the purchase and probably buy the book without a signature. Sale lost!

Keep this all in mind if you’re a collector and are considering having someone sign your comic book.

Questions, comments, or concerns? Sound off below! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! And indeed, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic Collecting and Price Jumps!

I was visiting one of my local flea markets recently and stumbled across a copy of X-Factor #6 from 1986. This book has some significance as it is the first full appearance of Apocalypse.

I saw it bagged and boarded on the wall at this particular flea market without a price. It had a sticker on the bag stating the comic was “NM.” (For those unfamiliar with the grading system, NM stands for “Near Mint” and represents a 9.4/10 when it comes to grading quality).

I asked the gentleman who ran the booth what he was asking for it. He had the price tucked in-behind the book because, and I’m paraphrasing here, “If regular people around here saw what these books went for, they’d get stolen from me.”

He lifted the book from the wall and revealed the price.

$120 (Canadian, by the way).

I was a bit shocked at the price. But before I move on, let’s backtrack a bit here.

XFactor 6

If it wasn’t obvious from this website already: I collect old comics. It’s a serious hobby of mine, and yes, it’s an expensive one. I love to go to shows and seek out the best deals on books: to compare prices, grades, quality, and experiences with other collectors.

While I’m big on finding old Horror and/or Atomic Age books, I have a particularly personal investment with Marvel books – especially the X-Men related books.

So when I see something X-related and the price surprises me, flags go off in my head. Why is the price the way it is? Why would someone charge so much for this book? I knew the NM price from the Comic Book Price Guide: around $50. Why was this price so inflated?

Of course, there’s the newest X-Men movie: X-Men: Apocalypse. But does that mean the price can fluctuate that high?

Well, yes and no.

Demand for the book would dictate the price. While I’m not at every convention or following all of the prices for every book out there, it seems as if recent demand has suggested the price of X-Factor #6 to inflate to a surprisingly high price.

However, the book’s sudden inflation is solely based around the movie. The book is actually quite common and may only be “up” for the short people that the movie is around.

It’s not as if movies transform viewers into readers either.

I remember when Iron Man 2 was released in theaters, I saw these numbers on The Beat:

02/10 Invincible Iron Man #23 – 50,027
03/10 Invincible Iron Man #24 – 49,239 ( -1.6%)
04/10 Invincible Iron Man #25 – 73,694 (+49.7%)
Iron Man 2 is released.
05/10 Invincible Iron Man #26 – 53,625 (-27.2%)
06/10 Invincible Iron Man #27 – 52,268 ( -2.5%)
07/10 Invincible Iron Man #28 – 48,690 ( -6.8%)
08/10 Invincible Iron Man #29 – 49,012 ( +0.7%)

Iron Man 2 Movie Poster

Now I had blogged based on these numbers when the movie came out all those years ago. But as you can see, there was no major influx of readers because of the movie.

That all being said, Guardians of the Galaxy and Rocket Raccoon are friggen’ rock stars now, so who knows?

What I do know from collecting comics is that prices can be quite drastic when they rise and fall. While X-Factor #6 may even be considered a “steal” at $120, I personally do not think it would be a great investment for down the line.

But don’t take my word for it.

UPDATE: February 20th, 2020

I decided to pop back in and review/update some older, well-viewed blogs I’ve had – this is one of them! I decided to take a look at the updated price of X-Factor #6, based on the pricing/sales from Comics Price Guide. I hesitate to go through Overstreet as my issue is a couple of years old.

Looks as if the purchasing of a raw (not graded or an “unslabbed”) copy of X-Factor #6 (which I’ll be lenient and go off of a 9.8 price) is $51 USD (or $67 CAD). That $67 is a far cry from the $120 the dealer was selling it for back in 2016. Had I purchased the book during the “hype” of the film, I’d be in the hole.

Certainly with Disney’s purchase of Fox, the X-Men films can be renewed, as can the revival of Apocalypse in film. So potentially the book has a chance to bump up again. However, that’s one heck of an assumption and gamble to have spent $120 on. X-Factor #6 certainly would not have been “a great investment for down the line.”

Dodged a bullet there.

Questions? Concerns? More questions? Ask away! Or you can hit me up on Twitter and Instagram! Until then, keep on Space Truckin’!

Comic Book News Update!

I’m pretty busy with so-called “real life” work this week. Since I won’t be able to get out reviews or other fun things, I figure I’d fill you all in with some extra-special stuff.

Jim Shooter’s Storytelling Lecture

Iconic writer, editor and all things in-between, Jim Shooter, has recently been posting transcripts from a 1994 seminar he did about art telling stories through Jack Kirby’s art. They’re absolutely astounding and breathtaking to read and witness. Most importantly, it is still relevant today! (And unfortunately goes ignored). Please check out what he has posted so far, and keep checking back regularly for more updates!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Comic Sales & Highlights

Two classics were recently sold over ComicConnet.com and Ebay, making milestones for Showcase #4 and Journey Into Mystery #83.

“Mark Zaid of EsquireComics.com and ComicConnect.com are reporting the sale of a CGC-certified NM- 9.2 copy of Showcase #4 featuring the first appearance of Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash for $100,000.” – ComicsPriceGuide.com

Showcase Flash

Meanwhile, the first appearance of Thor. . .

“. . . is autographed by Stan Lee and part of the CGC Signature Series. Graded at 6.5 by CGC, this copy of Journey Into Mystery #83 recently sold for $7,500.00 on eBay.” – ComicsPriceGuide.com

CGC Stan Lee Thor

Comics Sales Slump

In more depressing news, comic sales are continuously slipping. As ICv2 reports,

“Sales of the Top 300 graphic novels through Diamond Comic Distributors in March were down a substantial 18.6%, while sales of the Top 300 periodical comics fell 4.28%. Combined sales of the Top 300 Graphic Novels and Comics in March were off by 7.58%.”

Despite the drop, the 15 comics from March 2011 keep us hopeful with quantities sold being the last set of numbers in the list below. If you’d like to see the top 300, just click here.

1. FF#1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 114,472
2. Green Lantern #64 – $2.99 – DC – 76,898
3. Green Lantern #63 – $2.99 – DC – 75,632
4. Batman: The Dark Knight – $2.99 – DC – 71,108
5. Brightest Day #21 – $2.99 – DC – 70,204
6. Brightest Day #22 – $2.99 – DC – 69,824
7. Batman Incorporated #3 – $2.99 – DC – 66,772
8. Avengers #11 – $3.99 – Marvel – 66,618
9. Batman Incorporated #4 – $2.99 – DC – 65,315
10. Fear Itself: Book of the Skull #1 – $3.99 – Marvel – 62,714
11. Kick-Ass 2 #2 – $2.99 – Marvel – 62,235
12. Green Lantern Corps #58 – $2.99 – DC – 60,100
13. New Avengers #10 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,929
14. Batman and Robin #21 – $2.99 – DC – 59,818
15. Amazing Spider-Man #656 – $3.99 – Marvel – 59,626

And to think that in the 90’s comics were selling by the millions. These numbers reflect North America, by the by. *Sigh*

***UPDATE 5/13***

Here’s the official sales numbers for Marvel over at ComicsBeat.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

FanExpo Comic Guest List Announced! CGC Stuff, Too!

Being from Southern Ontario, it’s not often that comic conventions come out our way. However, one annual convention called Fan Expo comes to Toronto every year and brings in some of the biggest names in the business. In a nutshell, it’s the San Diego Comic Con on a smaller scale, centered in Toronto.

It focuses on Comics, Horror, Science Fiction, Anime and Video Games. It’s quite a well-rounded event.

Last year, I was able to meet my childhood hero, Stan Lee. Olivier Copiel, Gary Frank, Leonard Kirk, and Steve McNiven, to name a few, all made their appearances too. The year before that, I was lucky enough to meet Joe Quesada. This years list is beyond impressive:

JEFF SMITH (artist/creator – BONE)

JOE KUBERT (Legendary Artist)

ANDY KUBERT (artist – FLASHPOINT, BATMAN)

ADAM KUBERT (artist – ASTONISHING SPIDER-MAN & WOLVERINE)

TONY MOORE (artist – THE WALKING DEAD, VENOM)

MATT FRACTION (writer- FEAR ITSELF, THOR, IRONMAN, UNCANNY X-MEN)

STEVE EPTING (artist – FANTASTIC FOUR, CAPTAIN AMERICA)

JONATHAN HICKMAN (writer – FANTASTIC FOUR, S.H.I.E.L.D, PAX ROMANA)

STUART IMMONEN (artist – FEAR ITSELF)

OLIVIER COIPEL (artist – THOR)

JASON AARON (writer- ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA, WOLVERINE)

JAMES ROBINSON (writer – SUPERMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA)

STEVE McNIVEN (artist – CAPTAIN AMERICA, NEMESIS)

SHANE DAVIS (artist – SUPERMAN EARTH ONE)

RON GARNEY (artist – ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA)

MARKO DJURDJEVIC (artist – THOR, FANTASTIC FOUR, SPIDER-MAN)

JIMMY CHEUNG (artist- AVENGERS:THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE)

BRIAN AZZARELLO (writer – FIRST WAVE, 100 BULLETS, JOKER)

ETHAN VAN SCIVER (artist – THE FLASH REBIRTH)

MARK BROOKS (artist – UNCANNY X-FORCE)

DAN SLOTT (writer – AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)

ALEX MALEEV (artist – MOON KNIGHT, SCARLET)

DALE EAGLESHAM (artist – ALPHA FLIGHT)

FRANCIS MANAPUL (artist – THE FLASH)

KATHRYN IMMONEN (writer – WOLVERINE & JUBILEE)

DALE KEOWN (artist – HULK, PITT)

JEFF LEMIRE (artist – SUPERBOY, SWEET TOOTH)

KATIE COOK (artist – GRONK, STAR WARS, FRAGGLE ROCK)

DOUG SNEYD (Legendary Playboy cartoonist)

Of course, there’s even more!

Kei Acedara
Attila Adorjany
Sam Agro
Adrian Alphona
Kalman Andrasofszky
Andy Belanger
J. Bone
Kent Burles
C.B. Cebulski
Scott Chantler
Bobby Chiu
Michael Cho
Charlene Chua
Aaron Costain
Wes Craig
David J. Cutler
Willow Dawson
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Valentine DeLandro
Anthony Del Col
Michael Del Mundo
Jason Edmiston
Nick Evans
Ray Fawkes
W. Scott Forbes
Mike Gagnon
Agnes Garbowska
Holly Halftone
Clayton Hanmer
Scott Hepburn
Greg Hyland
Raffaelle Ienco
Jesse Jacobs
Eric Kim
Leonard Kirk
Shane Kirshenblatt
Scott Kowalchuk
Annie Koyama
Drazen Kozjan
Jessie Lam
Marvin Law
Alvin Lee
Kurt Lehner
Leo Leibelman
Nimit Malavia
Steven Charles Manale
Steve Mannion
Marvin Mariano
Nick Marinkovich
John Martz
Richard Maurizio
Conor McCreery
Brian McLachlan
Kagan McLeod
Diana McNally
Alex Milne
Vicki Nerino
Richard Pace
Dan Parent
Ramon K. Perez
Alex Perkins
Nick Postic
Gibson Quarter
Peter Repovski
Ethan Rilly
Benjamin Rivers
Hugh Rookwood
Dave Ross
Riley Rossmo
Salgood Sam
K.T. Smith
Fiona Smyth
Steve Sprayson
Diana Tamblyn
Ty Templeton
Kelly Tindall
Marcus To
J. Torres
James Turner
Alina Urusov
Eric Vedder
Joe Vriens
Tigh Walker
Ken Wheaton
Kurtis Wiebe
Britt Wilson
Steve Wolfhard
Howard Wong
Tory Woollcott
Craig Yeung
Richard Zajac
Jim Zubkavich

Publishes and Studios:

DC Comics
Marvel Comics
Image Comics
Archie Comics
Udon Entertainment
DK Canada
Koyama Press
Imaginism Studios
Transmission-X (TX Comics)

Check out more updates as they come along on FanExpo’s Website.

I’m very excited for Stuart and Kathryn Immonen, Matt Fraction, Steve McNiven, Marko Djurdjevic, Alex Maleev, Oliver Coipel, Dale Keown, Steve Epting, Jimmy Cheung, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Leonard Kirk, and Tony Moore.

It’s going to be a blast!

In other news, CGC Comics just announced that they’ve reached a milestone with 100,000 Signature Series books being certified through them.

“All collectibles certified with the prestigious CGC Signature Series label have been signed in the presence of a CGC representative, and are then submitted for CGC certification. CGC authenticates the signatures and indicates all pertinent information on the prestigious CGC Signature Series label. The Signature Series label includes security features such as an official hologram seal and a unique serial number. The item is then graded and encapsulated in CGC’s patented, tamper-evident holder, to become a treasured part of a collection. Thanks to CGC Signature Series, collectors know their signed items bear the seal of the most-trusted name in collecting.”

I’m proud to be part of that 100,000 with my copy of X-Men #15 signed by Stan Lee. (Who knows why I’m proud – I just am.)

Keep on Space Truckin’!