Jack Kirby signatures are rare in the collecting circles, and they add significant value if you’re lucky enough to have one – even more than Stan Lee’s in some cases.
Even before his death, Stan Lee’s autograph raised prices for virtually anything he signed. He may have charged $150-$200 for a witnessed signature, but it proved worth the cost of admission. Most comics adorned with his trademark autograph jumped by hundreds of dollars above his signing fee.
Stan’s may be the most famous autograph, but there are other comic legends whose signatures are in demand as well. The most coveted among those is the co-creator of the Marvel Universe as we know it, Jack Kirby.
When it comes to signed comics, there’s no denying that CGC and CBCS have revolutionized the autograph game. No longer do collectors pay high prices for certificates of authenticity when a CGC/CBCS Signature Series label is much more trustworthy.
While the signature series are the standard today, what about those legendary creators who preceded the grading companies?
THE OLD GUARD
Before witnessed signatures became the norm, most collectors didn’t want their comics autographed. To this day, there are collectors who feel that any type of writing on a comic, even by the creator, tarnishes the issue. Back in the 1970s and 1980s, if a comic was signed, the name was typically written at the bottom of the first page. That’s why any true Jack Kirby autograph will never be on the cover and always in ink pen.
It makes for a treasure hunt when flipping through old comics. Whenever you pick up an issue from the Silver or Bronze Ages, check the first page because you may have struck gold.
The general rule about the companies’ signature series labels is that a certified witness has to see the pen touch the paper. In the cases of the older creators who passed away prior to CGC and CBCS, the companies will slab those without the yellow label. CBCS has a verified signature label for unwitnessed autographs, though CGC does not offer any comparable service.
For a more detailed look at signed comics, check out Newsarama’s “Inside the Secret Business of Signed Comics.”
WHAT’S IT WORTH?
Like most comic icons, Kirby autographed numerous issues in his time. Today, let’s look closer at a handful to get an idea of how much value his signature adds to those keys that he created.
On March 2, a CGC-graded 6.5 signed by Kirby sold for a whopping $5,750. The last sale for an unsigned 6.5 was less than $5K. For the sake of comparison, a Stan Lee signed Avengers #1 at the same grade sold for $5,500 in December 2018 just after his death that November.
The rarity of the Kirby signature is apparent when you look at X-Men #1. Since 2009, only four graded copies that he signed have sold online. The most recent was for a 5.5 in 2016, and even then it sold for $3,912. These days, a universal blue label sells for over $9K, so factor inflation, and that 5.5 with a Kirby autograph is worth well over $10,000.
It’s hard to talk about Kirby without mentioning the comic that kicked off the Marvel Age.
There have been seven Kirby autographed F.F. #1s that have sold online since 2006. None have exchanged hands since 2018, but that year saw a 7.0 bring an impressive $35,850 while even a lowly 1.0 sold for $4,063.
With Kirby’s Eternals dominating sales for Bronze Age comics, you should celebrate if you find his autograph on the first page.
Overall, the prices are cheap, so now is a good time to invest. Back in June 2016, someone bought an 8.5 signed by Jack Kirby for only $130. A signed 6.5 traded hands last May for merely $80, which is hard to fathom.
Let’s not forget Kirby’s time with DC Comics when he created the likes of the New Gods, Mister Miracle, and most notably, Darkseid, who made his first appearance in this issue.
Only one graded, Jack Kirby signed Jimmy Olsen #134 has sold on an online auction site. In April 2016, a 9.0 brought $875. Again, consider four years of inflation, and this is easily a $1,000 comic if not more.
Kirby wasn’t the only comic legend who signed comics before the grading companies came to play. Leave a comment, and let me know your favorites.