The first time I got a few comics signed was back at the Chicago Wizard World in 98! It wasn't as crazy media driven as they are now. And there weren't any big artists or long lines. It was Al Simmons from Spawn. I can't even remember if he was the guy it was inspired by or the actor that played the part. Back then I didn't even prep or anything for this as it was all spur of the moment.
Fast forward to present day and I still haven't been to a signing physically since then. Usually I opt for CGC Signature Series graded books for any autographs that I really want to get. And have bought several from friends that have gone to conventions as well. So I was excited to find out that one of my favorite artists, Clayton Crain, was going to be within driving range for his road trip. After checking out everyone's social media feeds with pictures of long lines posted I was almost not going to go. But I figured why not as I have the time and availability to go.
I guess even before figuring out what books to bring for the signing, logistics and budget was first in mind. I have an electric car and it wouldn't make the drive 3 hours to Indianapolis so I had to get a rental. I thought to myself, why don't I offer the chance to get some books signed for others and maybe I could get a tip from them for doing it. I lined up 3 FB comic friends that wanted books signed and calculated that my gas and rental more than likely could be paid for doing that.
Next, the tough part was digging through my long boxes for all Crain books to physically compare what I want signed. Also figuring out which covers a signature would look the best. I went on to prep the book a friend wanted signed by taping and cutting out a window in a bag to keep the comic safe. Here are the steps and tips I can offer after my experience to help make yours better.
1. Logistics, research how long it will take to get there and what time would be a good time to arrive. Look in to parking, entrances, and anything in advance. Some events will offer a VIP package, that might be worth it in terms of the amount of time it could possibly save you as well as a unique perk that could make the high price worth it. Think worst case scenario and be prepared
2. Preparation for yourself. I brought a camping chair, plus snacks, a book, my tablet, headphones, water, so that I could wait in comfort. You could be in line for hours depending on the event/con. Bring things to keep you occupied during that time however long that might be.
4. Preparation for books. Figure out what the maximum amount of books you can get signed. Select the books you want to get signed. Do a little research on how the artists likes to or prefers to sign the books. As for Crain, I found after standing in line behind some one else that he prefers a person to take the comic and board out of the bag for him to sign. Also be prepared to be let down. Some of your requests for commissions and remarks aren't possible with the time constraints.
5. I also prepped the books by taping the comic bags and cutting out the signature area that was preferred. I also wrote what kind of signature and what color was preferred. To keep it organized, I wrote down whose book it was on the back of the comic bag in Sharpie as well. It's also a good idea to have a sturdy box to keep your books all in one place for travel. Maybe even a BCW Stor-Folio for easy and safe transport of your books as recommended by a FB friend. Also another fellow collector designed and made his own product. Sign Me Stickers are a window that you can attach to a bag for signing. Check them out here!
6. Bring back-up books just in case the artist won't sign a book, this happens from time to time. This might be your only shot, so bring something just in case. You'll never be disappointed by what you did bring over what you didn't bring.
7. If getting books graded write your info on the backboard of the book. Usually name, address, email, phone number and an account number for the grading company will suffice. This is the same if you're using CGC SS or CBCS SS as well. This will save time all around and the facilitators at the event will appreciate it.
8. Be patient and be nice, everyone wants a little time with their favorite artist. Take the time to list out what you have, what signatures go on what books, and also price out how much everything will cost. It goes without saying, but be nice. Now's not the time to talk trash about other artists or bad experiences. Kill everyone with kindess and say please, thank you, and be appreciative. Manners go a long way. Oh, I took off all the tape on the bags so that there would be no mishaps with it catching on any of the books when taking them out or putting them back in.
9. Make sure you let the signature dry before putting the signed comic back in to the bag. I was in a rush and forgot this and had some of the paint come off unfortunately. Give the book three to four minutes to dry before attempting to put them back in their bags.
10. Have fun and don't be afraid to ask questions and make friends. I recommend not drilling the artists like an interrogation. Keep it light and make it conversational. Remember they're working on your piece so give them a little bit of room to concentrate. As far as other fans in line, this is a great way to learn more about the entire process as well. More than likely, someone has been to more signings than you and already have the answers to your questions as they've gone through it. I learned that if you do a murder signature you can request him to write something under his signature. Below is the murder signature on Venom #27, it's usually a red signature with a line and paint to look like blood splatter.
Hope theses little tips help you next time you attend a signing! Also check out this video my comic buddy Skeff made about the Clayton Crain Road Tour II signing event I attended. Be sure to subscribe to his channel as he does a lot of unboxings on CGC submissions and mystery boxes he buys!
Just recently a Facebook friend who runs their own shop doing signings posted a video with tips to prepare your book for signings. He runs Underground Grading and Signature Services and I've heard nothing but good things in the community about using him to get your books signed.