By JAY R. NEILL
—Autograph April 2010
One of the best things about being a kid is the opportunity to collect comic books. The comic book competes with electronic games as quality entertainment for the imagination, and they don’t need batteries! My mom was a teacher and always encouraged me to read anything—including comics. When I started collecting non-sport autographs, I realized that comic books make great items to get signed and they look awesome when displayed.
When I went to my first comic book convention in search of celebrity autographs, it fired up my interest in comic books and all the artists who are involved in their creation. In a traditional publishing process, a writer comes up with the story and characters, a penciller draws the initial images in pencil, then sends it to an inker who finishes the page in ink to define the images and add dimension, a letterer adds the words, and for colored comics there is usually a separate colorist.
How can you collect comic books and get signatures from the creators, artists and celebrities that bring the characters to life?
Last October my family and I attended Mid Ohio Con, where they had more than 50 comic artists in attendance. There were original sketches available and I found thousands of comic books for sale under a dollar. Gary Friedrich was at a booth surrounded by images of the Ghost Rider character. I’d seen the fiery-headed Nicolas Cage character in the 2007 film by the same name, but had no idea that Friedrich was the creator! He began his career as assistant editor under Stan Lee and Roy Thomas in 1966 and was soon assigned to script some of Marvel’s most popular superheros. Friedrich’s most famous creation, Ghost Rider, was introduced in Marvel Spotlight #5 in 1972. Going to shows is an amazing chance to meet artists like Friedrich. Check out Events this month—we’ve included listings for comic book conventions for the next six months!
When it comes to living legends in the comic book world, Stan Lee is at the top. He is the former chairman of Marvel Comics and is the co-creator of some the greatest superheroes ever, including Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and the Hulk. While all of these legendary characters have been brought to life in movie theatres in recent years, they all were developed in part through Stan Lee’s imagination and they all lived in the pages of comic books before they made it to the big screen. Mr. Lee, now 87, is still appearing at conventions, but since the Walt Disney purchase of Marvel Comics he no longer accepts mail at the Marvel address. He partnered with Jack Kirby, who passed away in 1994, to create characters like The Hulk, Fantastic Four and X-Men. Steve Ditko is the co-creator of Spider-Man and, while he’s still living in New York City, he’s an extremely difficult signature to obtain.
In person and through the mail requests to comic artists are great ways to grow your autograph collection, and you may even get a sketch to go with it. Comic artists will usually sign for free but will sometimes request money if you’d like a sketch drawn. The first sketch that my sons received in person was in 2004 from Don Rosa who drew wonderful cartoons of Scrooge McDuck and Donald Duck. Mr. Rosa is a writer, penciller and inker most famous for his work on The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. His greatest inspiration when it comes to comics is Disney Studio animator Carl Barks who created the Scrooge McDuck character. At the same show, we purchased an original signed pencil and ink comic page that was used in the creation and production of a Scooby-Doo comic book for only $20 from inker Dan Davis. We later bought the comic book to match and it’s awesome to have the original artwork with the comic book.
Last September the town of Chester, Ill. hosted the 30th annual Popeye Picnic celebration and introduced the first new Popeye comic book in over 30 years. Writer Chris Yambar had the idea to bring back Popeye and he was joined by artists Ken Wheaton and George Broderick, Jr. Yambar
also writes for the Bart Simpson Comics among others. Hy Eisman drew the Sunday comic strip of Popeye, and George Wildman was a longtime Popeye artist. All five of these Popeye artists are great signers and for $25 Eisman or Wildman will draw a wonderful sketch for you.
Don’t Forget The Actors
In addition to signing the artists and writers who create the comics, it can be fun to get the signatures of the actors and voice talent who have brought the comic book characters to life on television and film. My boy’s favorite comic books are Star Wars, so they love their Jeremy Bulloch signed Boba Fett comic and James Earl Jones signed Star Wars comic. Noel Neill played Lois Lane in the original Adventures of Superman television series in the 1950s and signed a Lois Lane comic book for us. Former Catwoman Lee Meriwether signed a Batman comic book. Nancy Cartwright, who does the voice of Bart, is an excellent signer and a Simpson’s comic cover is the perfect item to get signed.
April Family Fun Challenge
All you have to do to get started is choose what comic book you want to get signed and who you want to sign it. Write a nice letter, mail it, and while you’re waiting for a response, read more comic books! Check out the Kid’s Corner addresses on the AutographMagazine.com Web site—there are step-by-step instructions to help you with your through-the-mail requests.
If you get an answer, let me know! You can write me at JayNeill@AutographMagazine.com. Next month, get ready for the Harlem Globetrotters.