We cling to our memories as if they define us. But they don’t. Our actions do.
-Ghost in the Shell (2017)
It is a First Principle for me that I support artists. And when I have the opportunity to meet one whose work I love, I like to show some gratitude.
Which leaves a conundrum. How, at a comic convention, do I support the creator, start a conversation, show appreciation, but not bring any of their Things home?
Autographs are a great way to connect with creators. Asking them to scribble on it to connect the physical object with the experience of momentarily connecting.
Showing a small token, an offering of sorts.
I’m still trying to navigate the right way to interact with creators without this. As well as the utility of opening a conversation, standing at a creator’s table not transacting a purchase or an autograph will definitely get some leers from anyone waiting behind you.
Another challenge is that I have such a small physical comic collection I frequently need to purchase something if I want an autograph.
As a digital reader, it almost feels like I should bring my tablet and hold it up so they can see me clicking “purchase” on an online shop.
As I purged, I did keep the large percentage of my autographed comics. A dropped a few from creators I am not very connected to. Or that I had a poor interaction with.
Most of my autographed comics sit in 5 display racks. You can see this display in my office tour video. I cycle them irregularly, so they are showing different covers all the time. But that means that all but the cover or one facing page are never likely to be looked at again.
So what is its purpose?
Is a 32-page comic that will never be read different than the cover sitting alone in the comic bag?
This goes to purpose. Why do I have this autograph?
An autograph is a step beyond a simple memento. If one believes in energies around us, this object is powered with such energy. It passed from me to the creator I admire and back. It marks that moment we shared. When I got to say thank you. A moment of connection.
Unlike so many mementos, an autograph is rendered completely valueless by digitising. It is not a memory that can be reactivated by a photo. It is, in itself, the memory.
Having the luxury of ready access to comic conventions and creators, I have been able to limit my autographs. I generally choose one comic that means something to me.
When I met Greg Rucka, for example, I brought only a single issue from Gotham Central, “Half A Life.” Not only is it a favorite of mine, it opened the topic of the issue itself and his thoughts on the character and the issue. We shared a nice moment talking about it.
I also combine autographs when possible, finding anthologies and issues where I can get writers and artists to add their scribbles.
This one will continue to be a struggle for me as I balance my values with my desire to limit Things. If you have found a path through this, please leave a comment or connect with me on social media.