BY MATT TUCK
The results are in, and CBCS has graded and slabbed my Fantastic Four #48. Did the Stan Lee signature get verified by Beckett Media? What was the final grade? It is time for the big reveal.
THE STORY SO FAR
Back on March 15, I boxed up one of my long-awaited eBay finds: an affordable copy of Fantastic Four #48.
The real gamble was that it had an unwitnessed Stan Lee signature on the cover. I have been to Stan Lee signings before, and I have owned several witnessed signatures of his over the years. Right now, I have two Stan autographs with the CGC Signature Series label. That being said, I feel like I am a decent judge of a Stan signature.
When I wrote “The Stan Lee Signature Gamble,” I guessed it would grade about a 2.0-3.0, and the signature looked legitimate to my amateur eye. It also contained a Stan Lee collectibles sticker on the inside cover. When I asked the seller why he would put a sticker anywhere on a holy grail like FF #48, he said his father had stood in line for him. Basically, Dad had no experience in this department, and he thought that was the best way to certify the signature.
Here we are less than a month from when I mailed this low-grade FF #48 to CBCS, and I was impressed by the speed at which it was graded, certified, and shipped back to me. FedEx had the box on my doorstep by about 1 p.m. on April 10.
On the other side of the grading world, I am still patiently waiting on CGC to get started. Remember the Ultimate Fallout #4 I shipped to CGC? That one arrived at the CGC headquarters on March 19, and it has yet to be processed, and I even paid for the express grading tier. In all fairness, the UPS packaging box was not labeled “express grading,” but a month just to open a box and put a comic in the system is a bit ridiculous. When it comes to turnaround time, CBCS clearly won this battle. At this rate, I will be lucky to get my UF #4 returned to me before my 50th birthday.
Now that I have my CBCS box, what was the final verdict?
First of all, if you guessed a 2.0 for the grade, then you were spot-on. That was about where I had expected it to grade, so no buyer’s remorse on that front. Where I was disappointed was the Stan Lee signature. CBCS slapped it with the dreaded “unverifiable by BAS” on the label. Without the unverified signature on the cover, would this comic have graded higher? I cannot say for sure, but I suspect it did not harm the grade much if it at all.
What I did find curious is that an unverified signature still received the universal blue label. Had this been CGC, it would have been given the dreaded green label. Lesson learned here: when you buy a CBCS-graded comic, read the label notes carefully. Just because it is blue does not mean there isn’t a signature, forged or not, on the book.
Personally, I still lean toward this being a legitimate Stan Lee signature. While I was happy to have it returned to me so quickly, could it be the process was rushed and the signature did not get the attention it deserved? I reached out to CBCS for insight on what exactly the “unverified” designation means, but I had not gotten a response as of the time of this writing. If I do hear back from them, I will add it to an update.
The real test for the Verified Signature Program is my other submission, Aliens #1. As I documented in a previous blog post, I personally witnessed actors Michael Biehn and Carrie Henn sign that comic at the Days of the Dead Convention in Atlanta on February 27. If those come back with the dreaded “unverifiable by BAS” designation, I will revolt. Here’s hoping for success, anyway.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.