Featured photo taken by John Branch at the MiniCon 2015 in Charlotte, N.C. This post is part two of a two-part explanation about Branch’s method of acquiring and cataloging signed pieces from his comic book collection. Check out part one right here.
Once you have your inventory, your list and your compiled books, it’s time to devise a game plan for getting the signatures you want. When you first hear about a convention, start working on a game plan as soon as possible. There is a lot to do at conventions and a lot to buy, so plan accordingly. The reason I plan far in advance is due to getting new books every week, you could potentially get a book on the same week as the convention, that you want signed.
Once I get the books together, I start to organize them according to where the artist are located at the convention. So, for an example, if I need to get a signature from John Beatty, Walden Wong and Paul Azaceta, I would put them in order as to which row they are on. It gets a little trickier when you have multiple artist signing one book. As for those, I put them in order with the first artist and then move them around once I get the first signature.
At this point, you should have your inventory down, your books in a stack and you have went over the layout of the convention and where the artist are located. Now, it should be noted that the majority of artists do not charge anything for autographs and most of the time are very happy to do it. There are some exceptions to this, as more notable artist like Neal Adams will charge a fee per autograph (Neal charges $20).
However, there is some basic but notable etiquette to follow when interacting with the artist. Although, most artist do not charge to sign your books, it’s important to not overwhelm the artists with comic books to sign. I try to cap mine at 5 books per artist. This is so you do not hog the artist’s time, as they are signing other books, meeting fans, selling art and most of them are working on custom artwork that has to be finished by that day.
Also, be pleasant (even if they are not), speak up, speak clearly and be brief and direct. I always approach artist with a smile and say “excuse me.” Then I ask them if they would mind signing my books and I always give a quick story about my appreciation of their work. I also always like to inquire about current projects too (depending on how many artist I have to get signatures from).
It’s very important to have direction when getting your comic books signed. You need to ask yourself, what is your goal? Are you just wanting to meet your favorite artist and get your book signed? Are you wanting to get the comic book graded? These are questions I never asked myself when I first started getting books signed. Something I regret now.
If you want to get your books graded, it could be beneficial to have a liaison from one of the grading authorities present during your signing. If you know Skottie Young is going to be at a convention and you want to get his signature, but would like to send the comic book off for grading afterwards, Comics Guaranty (CGC) or someone from a similar grading service needs to be with you at the time the artist signs the book.
Once you are finished getting all of the signatures you want, the grading liaison will then send the comic books off for you to be graded. The reason it is very important to have them present, is due to the type of grading series. If the book is not verified by the grading company, the signature will not be considered for the signature series. Only when the grading company witnesses the signing, does the book get considered for the signature series. This is mainly important for reselling, as it could mean a higher value.
If you send your book off to a company to authenticate the signature, the certificate of authenticity will be taken into consideration as to not mark down the book for a blemish at CGC, but it will still not be enough to consider it for the signature series.
Make sure to limit your stacks for the artist you have more comic books from. Organize your stack of books according to where the artist are located. Be kind and be patient. If all goes well, you will be able to get every single one of your books signed. Do not get lost in the work and do not be disappointed if someone’s line was too long (Matt Fraction) or if someone cancelled at the last minute. Majority of these artist come each year, so you will more than likely see them again (some you will always see).
Conventions are all about celebrating the culture of comic books. So remember– have fun!