Is that signed comic book worth a small fortune? Can an artist or writer signature increase the selling price? What does a comic book price guide say about signed copies?
In this article you’ll discover the, well, hazy truth about signed comic books.
I have to admit, I get a fair share of questions about how much a signed copy of a specific comic book issue is worth. Most people are familiar with signed books, sports memorabilia and pop culture items, so they logically assume comic books would be the same. Unfortunately, for the reasons we’ll discuss here, the trend does not continue in this hobby.
Before we get into the “why” and details of the situation I am going to be blunt, the chances of a signed comic book being worth more than an unsigned issue are very slim, and in many cases the signature may actually hurt the value. There is no price guide or established value increase for signatures, so every example ends up being unique. The only place you can start is with the standard comic book value steps, and then see what your particular comic will sell for in the marketplace. Be warned, it could be less than an unsigned issue (but it could be more, who knows)! That’s the simple truth.
But why is this?
The comic book hobby has its own subtleties, and this is one of them. First, for the most part we have no way of knowing whether the signature is genuine. Most collectors don’t want to take the time to have it authenticated and if it is a forgery guess what? You now have a comic book that is ruined because is has been written on by what may as well have been a 7 year old kid in crayon (more on this in a second)! An unauthentic signature is considered a condition flaw.
One way to help ensure the authenticity of a signature is to take a picture of yourself with the writer or artist as they sign the book. The second option is to attend one of the CGC Signature Series events, usually held a major convention. You can also buy these books on the secondary market and they are signified by their yellow “Signature Series” tag (see the picture below). You could also get lucky and find an expert to authenticate your comic signature.
If you have assured the authenticity of your signed comic book through one of the above methods you then have to find a buyer who not only wants the specific comic book you are selling, they also want it signed. This is why the value or selling price is an unknown quantity. When you attempt to make sale in any collectible market you are selling to a limited group – a subset of the population that collects your item, wants the specific item you have, want it in that condition, and have the money to purchase it. The signature limits that market a little more. Does someone out there meet all the criteria to purchase your signed book? You can see why this is an unknown, it is just such a small subset of the hobby. The only way to truly find the current value of the book is to attempt and sell it and see how it goes, there are no established guidelines.
Now let’s talk about one more strange part of the comic book collecting hobby. Remember earlier in this article I joked about a 7 year old kid writing his name on a comic book? Well, it just so happens that in some cases a specific kid writing his name on an old comic book can make it worth several times the price of similar comics – they are called pedigrees! The most famous example is probably the Larson collection, but that is a tale for another day.
To wrap this up, if you have a signed comic book, take a look at the value for an unsigned example as a starting point and hope for the best with your issue!