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During our recent visit to C2E2 2017, I had an epiphany! Alright, not that there was a lot to cover at the show seeing the major comic, entertainment or collectible companies were few and far between. Yet my childhood hero – Stan Lee – was making his final appearance in Chicago according to “The Man” himself.  I was thrilled to once again see the pop culture icon. I had tried to meet him once before a few years back at San Diego Comic Con when, to make a long story short, I purchased a signing from Desert Winds Comics. Unfortunately, I didn’t get back to the booth in time and missed him!

Anyway, back to my epiphany.

At first, I had a hard time deciding what comic I was going to have the Stan sign. Should I have him sign one of my golden age books? This was some of his earliest work so how cool would that be? How about a silver age book, like an early Spider-Man or Fantastic Four? Obviously some of Stan’s best work and what finally launched him into super stardom beyond just comic books! Perhaps I should have him sign a later book like one of my variants? Although Stan didn’t write them, having him sign one would add even more value to it right? That’s when it really dawned on me!

Did I really want Stan signing any of my books at all? In reality, even though its Stan Lee, won’t having him signing my book be tantamount to defacing it? Unless I spend a fortune to have a golden (or silver) age book graded by the CGC as a signature series, would his signature actually bring the value of an aged comic like this down?

This is where my problem arose… As Stan is on a mass signing tour right now the market is being flooded with comics bearing his signature. So what’s this doing to the value of these books? Add in the fact if you have a highly graded, highly valuable book, just about any mark on that comic is going to bring the grade and the value down!

Let me point out I’m a comic book fan first and collector second so I don’t want to come across as someone who’s only concern is how much my collection is worth but, as anyone who collects anything can attest, we sure hate when the value of that collectable item goes down simply because of something we’ve done.

I kept bouncing this around and brought my concern up to Jeff that night (since he was in town and staying with my family and I) and then later the next day to Elliott when we got to the show. Both touched on the point that, to their knowledge, there are collectors who seek out signed work while, on the other hand, there are others who want something as pristine and unblemished as humanly possible. Or in other words, it has a lot to do with the person who is looking to pick up that comic and both believed the value is in the eyes of the collector. Pretty obvious there, but I think it’s important to understand the value of a signature and what it may possibly do to your comic’s value.

As with anything anything, the rarity of an item is what gives it value. What if you had a classic copy of Superman signed by Jerry Siegel or Joe Shuster or, even better, both? Or an early Batman signed by Bob Kane? Now we’re talking! There are so few signed copies like these which make them extremely valuable – also based on grade of course.

When you wait in line to get a comic signed, believing you’re going to pump up the value, and there are 500 other people waiting alongside you to get their comics signed you need to start doing the math. Based on what I’ve personally seen taking place on eBay, my advice is this: Newer books don’t really have much value to begin with, except for variants of course, so having them signed shouldn’t be a problem as far as lowering their value; just grab a cool issue and have your favorite creator or artist sign away. When choosing a golden or silver age book to be signed though, pick a lower (not something that’s trashed but say a 4.0 to 5.0) to higher mid grade book. The books value will be lower to begin with so having someone like Stan Lee sign should only increase the value. If you have CGC grade it as a Signature Series that’s even better – if you want to incur the cost of grading. I have to say I’ve also seen the price for higher graded key issues, which are signed, fetch more than the Overstreet value.

Yet as far as having a high grade vintage comic signed by Stan Lee (or anyone else for that matter) you may want to think twice. First off, if your plan is to sell that issue, you may have just lost a good number of prospective buyers by getting that signature. Remember, these classic books are pretty rare and most collectors want their highly graded comics looking like they were just pulled from the stand! Honestly, I haven’t seen any high grade, hard to find comic go up in value due to having a signature. In fact, as an example, on eBay I won a near mint copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300 signed by Stan Lee along with the Certificate of Authenticity. By all accounts the ungraded, unsigned book value is right around $224.00. What was my winning bid to add the issue to my collection? $120.00… So what’s that telling you?

All I’m saying is when it comes to having an issue signed know what you’re doing to that book. If you’re at a show that CGC is attending go ahead and ask them what they think. How about asking your comic book dealer if they think having your book signed would be good for the comic’s value. Be smart and do some research!

Please don’t think I’m telling you not to go see Stan Lee and get something signed by him.

NOT IN YOUR LIFE!

Stan is a very kind hearted man who loves to see the people who love him! He has a zest for life that few people anywhere have regardless of age. This man is a true iconic figure and to meet him is to share a brief moment of that greatness! So by all means, if Stan Lee comes to your town, go pay your money and meet the man who has given the world so much enjoyment. The thing about an icon is that once they’re gone, there will never be another one. And believe me, Stan is one of a kind!

In case you’re wondering what book I finally chose for Stan to sign, it was my near mint copy of the Fantastic Four #100. It’s such a great milestone key issue written by Stan and drawn by Jack “The King” Kirby! Oh, and as far as worrying about what it did to the value? For myself, it didn’t matter because you can’t place a value on meeting the man you’ve admired since you were seven years old! That issue will never leave my hands anyway!

‘Nuff Said!

Greg McAleer
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