Collecting 101: Getting a Comic Signed

by Matt Tuck

Stan-Lee-Amazing-Fantasy-15-192x300 Collecting 101: Getting a Comic SignedConvention season is on the horizon, and the bigger the con, the bigger the guests, and they come with hefty price tags. The question is this: is it worth it to get your comics signed?

It goes without saying (but I’m going to say it anyway) that whether you love or hate signed comics is simply a matter of choice. It also depends on whether you’re getting it autographed to add value or because you’re a fan. Those are all personal decisions, and one opinion on the subject is worth as much as any other. Today, class, we’ll take the position of investor.

When it comes to standing in long lines with a CGC or CBCS witness and paying for a writer, artist, or even a celebrity’s autograph on a comic, I am a seasoned veteran. A couple years ago, my sons and I drove 12 hours and waited in line for a solid two hours for Stan Lee to sign a couple of comics at $125/signature, and I have no regrets.

hulk_181_ss92-188x300 Collecting 101: Getting a Comic SignedIf you’re considering getting a comic signed, you have to think about your overall costs. First, you have the creator or celebrity’s fees. It makes sense that the more in demand their autograph is, the more expensive it is. Two years ago, Mark Hamill charged $200 for a signature, and last year Jason Momoa’s fee was about $100. Comic creators are less, but they can still be pricey. For instance, Chris Claremont is in the $10-$20 range, and famed artist Neal Adams at one point was charging close to $60, while a witnessed Todd McFarlane or Frank Miller autograph is around $100. In fact, most writers and artists charge an additional fee if you are having the signature witnessed by a grading company.

If a comic creator is charging extra for CGC/CBCS, why not use a certificate of authenticity? In this age of CGC and CBCS, the COA is outdated. It is too easily falsified, which means you can never know for sure if you got what you paid for. With the grading companies, you are paying for a witnessed signature that is then encapsulated and given its own barcode. I’m sure there are ways to counterfeit the signature series slabs, but it’s still the best way to authenticate signatures. Of course, that adds another cost to the equation. In my experience, having a comic witnessed and graded under their signature series programs cost in the $35-$50 range, generally. After you pay Neal Adams and the grading company, that autograph ends up being between $95-$110.

Generally you only want someone associated with that title to autograph your comic. I’ve seen Stan Lee signatures on Wolverine, Deadpool, and even Squirrel Girl issues, and he had no involvement with any of those characters. When you add a signature not related to that issue in some way, it typically hurts the overall value.

Getting a comic signed and graded is expensive, and most of us want to get more than one comic autographed at a convention. As a fan, I only worry with how much the signature is worth to me. However, as an investor, do your research beforehand. Try to learn about what the creators charge, then compare that with the values their signatures add to the comic, and be selective.

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