Keeping on theme with my current Adam Hughes fetish, I thought I would also post another book recently acquired. Actually it is a set of four books, none of them of particular note or value, except the are all signed by Mr. Hughes himself.
Now the book I have chosen for display is Wonder Woman #161, and it is to help illustrate a little pet peeve of mine, which I will attend to shortly. For the moment, however, I would list the other books included in this particular haul, these being Wonder Woman #187, #195 and #144. #195 also has a signature by writer Greg Rucka, and #144 includes signatures by Canadian artist Yanick Paquette as well as fellow artist Bob Mcleod. Lots of sigs on four books. Cost for the lot? Little more than a mere $27 USD.
Now the actual value of the books themselves is a little under $20, based on the advertised grades. So basically, I am paying the current values (including shipping costs), and $10 for Hughes signatures x4, plus 3 other signatures…an absolute steal, if you ask me.
Here’s the rub, however. None of them are slabbed with a signature series or signature verification label. Nor do any of them come with a certificate of authenticity. So, it could very well be that each and every signature was forged by Joe Shmoe, and as skilled as Joe may be, the fraudulent signatures would in that case actually decrease the value of each book, rather than make them collectible items. The trick here is to rely upon the good reputation of the seller rather than extending blind faith. For this type of case, I only buy from (eBay) vendors with the highest reviews coming from a very large customer base, and even then there is no guarantee.
At some point, these will all need to be sent to one of the grading companies (CBCS or PGX) that provide a signature verification service. Each provides, as I recall offhand, a signature authentication service (as does CGC), which means a representative has directly witnessed your book being signed by the creator and both graded and encased the book directly afterward. The signature verification service, on the other hand, means the book was sent to an expert to have the signature analyzed and contrasted with a database of signatures to determine authenticity. It is the next best thing to going through the (very costly) process previously outlined, and usually with a much smaller hit to the pocketbook. That is, unless the books are found to be inauthentic. Then you’ve bought a book which you likely paid too much for, along with the verification and shipping fees added to your total cost…which leads us back to the point of choosing your vendors wisely.
Because there is some concern about taking these types of gambles, there are many who stay away from signed books. As for myself, I have not had a problem yet, although I have quite a few signed books that have yet to be sent off for verification. It is important, however, to follow the process. I have a copy of New Teen Titans #1 that I bought from a single owner, along with issues 2-4 and Annual 1, all of them signed by George Perez and Marv Wolfman. I felt confident in the purchase for a number of reasons…high and plentiful reviews, as well as a conversation with the owner in which I was persuaded he was a genuine fan and “a good guy” (risky, I know…). The issue #1 was graded by CGC, however, whereas the others were “raw”. CGC still does not provide a signature verification service, as far as I am aware, so this book was submitted and given a regular grade with a notation that two names were written on the inside. Not even what the names (allegedly) were, but only that they were there. At some point I am going to have to cr
ack the case and send it to a company that does provide the service still lacking at CGC, along with a few others.
Returning to the image selected for this post, it was included to demonstrate my one criticism of the otherwise impeccable Adam Hughes. Given his deserved reputation as the premiere cheesecake artist for the current age, I sometimes find myself annoyed at how he just can’t seem to do justice to hips and bums. The former often seem almost mannishly straight, the latter routinely absent of any badonkadonk whatsoever (progressives prone to shrieking about misogyny, sexism or objectification need not respond). Select the image at the top and look at it…absolutely horrid. Not even the hint of a butt cheek to be found. I would think he might consult a fellow cheesecake luminary…Frank Cho (side image for reference), or the late, great Dave Stevens (far right), or one of many others, if it is the case that he has difficulty with “seeing” it in his mind before laying pen to paper, so to speak. Or perhaps that is what he views as an attractive female form (part of the point of cheesecake, or “good girl” art)…man hips and narrow, flattish bums. If it were not for this relatively small but obvious deficiency, I would be at a complete loss to find any other worthwhile criticism. He does absolutely fine with legs and feet, and excels from the waist up, particularly with bosoms. The faces are usually where god-like perfection reveals itself, however. With all said and done, he’s still tops as far as I am concerned, and I am quite happy that the industry and the fan-base seem to give him the regard he very much deserves. I am, selfishly, even happier to have several books signed by one of my favorite idols.