What’s Next For CGC?

A couple of weeks ago I got this CGC solicitation that had Robert Downey Jr. doing a private mail-in signing for the CGC Signature Series. Proceeds were going to his FootPrint Coalition charity that promotes environmental sustainability. The signing fee was set at $750. I got to thinking that this was a nice big fish that CGC landed, then I thought about the recent CGC takeover by Blackstone and other investors.

We all admire the CGC story, humble beginnings and then slowly growing into an important part of a market equation. I won’t name names but I know many of the guys from the early days, we’ve shared a few drinks over the years back when I used to do the big US shows. These are very talented people but what they lacked, at least in my opinion, was a deep reach into the entertainment industry at large. True or not I started thinking that the old CGC might not be able to land a lot of celebrities like Downey Jr., I think this new corporate entity has a much deeper reach, it doesn’t hurt having guys like Jay Z on board. Problem solved.

So what’s next?

Do they keep snagging A-List comic movie celebrities for signings? Names maybe the old guard at CGC might not have been able to land? Or do they give us something unexpected? Give us access to people we never considered? Will the market take to it? Will there be demand? I don’t know any of these things but I do know that the new CGC has opportunities in front of it not there for the old CGC. Let’s see where they take this.

Speaking of eBay, our internationalcollectiblesexchange auction on eBay last night produced some great results. One of the highlights was this solid lower-grade copy of Captain America’s Weird Tales #75. This is such a tough book, we graded it a 2.5 with all the issues it had including a large piece out of one page, we were hoping it would go north of $1,000. The only comparable we had was a CGC 5.0 selling this spring for $2,599. Our raw copy closed at $1,510, such an incredible comic that does not come to market very often, Advantage Buyer.

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. That CAWT 75 is a real beauty!

    Am I the only person who would have no interest in Robert Downey Jr scrawling all over my Iron Man key issues? To me it’s a step too far. Creators, yes of course, but folk who by chance played the character who appeared in the comic, no thanks! And for $750….even more of a no !

  2. Mark, you are not the only person by far.

    I hate signatures probably more than Walt hates price variants. I think they have a very limited place as interesting collectibles, but more than 99% of them lower the desirability of a book in my opinion. Of the <1%, I own three:

    A lower-grade copy of ASM #13 with a Stan Lee signature. I wouldn’t want a Lee signature on a high grade copy of this book, but I think it is neat for a lower-grade copy, given that this was an early-days issue that Stan was clearly involved in.
    “Highest graded” Lee signature on Avengers #97. This issue is something of zero unsigned, but it is cool to have a Lee signature on it because the cover features the reappearance of some GA characters he had a hand in. This was a fairly speculative buy of a conversation piece (that I am getting some mileage out of right now!).
    “Highest graded” Kubert signature on Tarzan #207. Again something of a zero, but coming out of the Covered 365 exercise, I had really grown to love Kubert’s work. This came up for a cheap price and I thought it was a nice curiosity. I have Kubert’s first comic work in Catman #8, and no way I would have wanted him signing something that rare.

    I would think about paying maybe $25 for Downey signing a modern movie-related book in 9.8 – that’s as far as I would go. $750??? I have never understood the cult of personality – a screw loose I have – so it is just incomprehensible to me that anyone would pay this. And you will never get anywhere near your money back. A book I was interested in, which I think was Star Trek #2 signed by most of the original crew – half of whom are dead – went for maybe 3x the normal graded price, so maybe $750 more for all of that. So imagine what a run-of-the-mill book with just Downey’s signature is going to bring. Dumb all the way around.

    I think we are seeing signs in the market that we are not alone. I saw quite a bit of resistance to a Lee signed Giant-Size X-Men recently. Maybe a FF #1 Lee signature means something, but we all know his involvement in GSXM #1 was probably minimal, so his signature is just defacing a really expensive book. The Lee signatures seem to have a special place, but many other creator signatures seem to be shunned in all cases. I will cheer this movement on.

  3. Having the Downey signature for charity is fine… but I am with Chris M…. I just have no interest in a signature scrawled across a cover. My buddy at work loves them, although he winced once as Stan whipped through his FF #2 once before signing it… as did I when I watched Sinnott sign across the cover of someones FF# 52 a few years back. Good for CGC…however, as we have been discussing for a few weeks… more effort into getting comics actually graded in a reasonable time would be if more interest then a signature signing.
    That Cap sales gives me hope for my Golden age Cap 69… lower grade but complete!

  4. I’m on the fence about signatures, but leaning towards all the same thinking. I like signatures when I am the one getting it. I have a few signatures from artists and writers that I admire. Mike Zeck, Jim Starlin, However, I did this without CGC, and way back when, artists actually used to sign the inside on the front page because they didn’t want to spoil the cover. So, to get those graded now, I’m looking at a green label. But I likely would never get them graded anyways. Having said all that, it would seem that as these beloved comics of ours are becoming more and more of a commodity, rather than a collectible, I can see more offerings of signatures by celebs become available. Maybe it would be cool to have the “Demon in a Bottle” signed by Robert Downey Jr.? And certainly if there is only a handful of those books, we now have scarcity, before we even get into grades! So although I am not totally for it, I can see certainly how one may use this as an opportunity to venture into new money making collectibles. And.. yes it is a good cause. So.. can we get a tax rebate for charity?

  5. Chris, I think the inside signatures generally do not lead to green labels. Usually these are blue labels with a note of “XXX written on first page”. The unverified cover signatures produce the green labels because these deface the book, but CGC is willing to acknowledge that this might be a real signature. So instead of getting a significant downgrade due to the cover signature, you get the grade the book would get without the markings, but with the green label. I agree that in this case there is little point in getting the book graded by CGC, as the green is poison to buyers except those looking for and accepting the unverified signature, in which case they don’t care about the grading. CBCS offers the after-the-fact handwriting analyst label – I would prefer this to the green label, but it still seems weak.

  6. Comic publishers should make a ‘signature’ copy – an issue where the UPS square is blank, larger, and printed sideways to give cover signers a place to sign without destroying the look of the cover. Publishers could probably sell a ton of these at conventions.

    Chris O., Downey almost died from alcohol addiction, not to mention spending a lot of time in jail. Wouldn’t having him sign D.I.A.B. be viewed as a tad insensitive?

  7. Klaus! amazing!!! starts with intelligence…then shifts to emotional intelligence….you really are a man of many strengths!

    I echo the comments here, I don’t particularly like cover signatures – I recently sold my Clarement signed X-men #97 and replaced it with a similar high-grade copy. I will say this though….I pen signature on the the splash page near the creator credit – all day, every day! that’s a big win for me, a Cockrum and Austin on the splash, take my money!!!

    As far as non-creators, as one shepherd said to the other: ‘get the flock outta here!’…this is just evidence exhibit 143 that the market has lost it’s collective mind, i wouldn’t get him to sign it for $0 let alone pay for it…do you think book collectors are getting Geraldine McEwan to sign their 1st edition Agatha Christie Miss Marple book? Hell no (then again those people aren’t wrapping their books up in plastic coffins either)

  8. Klaus! I suppose it did sound a little insensitive. Wasn’t my intent, but rather an iconic cover that humanizes the character, which Downey played so well. And in the first two movies alcohol did play a part. In fact, in the third Iron Man movie, much of the story was supposed to be about addiction, but they changed it to PTSD. And I doubt he would spend too much time looking at what he is signing. Just keep that assembly line moving…

  9. Good lord! Choke! That’s like getting Basil Rathbone to sign your first edition of The Hound of the Baskervilles!!! Very tenuous connection to the original work of art. I can think of a million better ways for Junior to raise money for his cause, and, even if it is for charity, its’ still a shameless money grab as far as I’m concerned. And for that reason alone…I’m out.

    And Walt, I urge you and Chris to try Te Bheag (pronounced “chay veck”, meaning “a wee dram” in Gaelic) for a lovely and low cost (just under 40 bucks for 700 ml) Gaelic Whisky from the Isle of Skye. It’s tasty, with nice peaty notes and a long smooth finish. And, as a special treat, because I drink the stuff, I will be happy to sign your bottle for only $750, even though I had no hand whatsoever in the making of it. Slainte!

    so long for now, mel

  10. I’d go for an unsigned bottle (sorry Mel)! It one I haven’t tried! Unfortunately its not well distributed in the US

  11. Robert Downy certainly plays a huge role in the Marvel Cinematic history…His Iron man portrayal ushered in this, and allowed Marvel to score the biggest box office records. His impact has been huge. His image and portrayal have helped make the Marvel Universe a household name instead of a fringe fandom based industry. As sales of Comics drop yearly, at least this cinematic Universe keeps the ideas and creations of Mr Kirby and such, alive and well. Mr Downy has help normalize “geekdom” across the world. I think his signature and acceptance in the CGC comic medium is more then deserved.

  12. Sorry Dave, didn’t mean to offend hardcore fans of Robert “Downy?” Downey’s (Now that’s funny! Spellcheck just told me I spelled his name wrong!?) contribution to the cinematic history of Marvel is unquestioned. I just think CGC would be wiser to maybe grade some of those thousands of books that they tend to hang on to for (in many cases) an inordinate amount of time. If you want to make a $750 donation to Mr. Downey’s environment fund, why not just cut him a cheque? And, I don’t think that, as long as it is referred to as “geekdom,” our passion will ever be normalized in any sense of the word. Maybe that’s for the best?.

    all the best, mel

  13. Well… this is all interesting! Often independent radio stations do fund drives… and if your in the US you must know public radio/ tv do regular fund drives… ones which I often contribute to! At some point they bring out premiums to enhance the contribution, that was always also donated! So the comic is a premium. What the real questioning factor here is… does Downy signing a comic( was it a specific issue?) make it worth $750. I am with Meli… I would contribute to get a signed by Downy for 25 bucks… but nothing tells me yet it’s worth more.

  14. Sorry Mel…Downknee! Hmmmm wasn’t that a Kirby character in the 4th world. Maybe not… shoulda been….

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