The Golden Age of Creativity   2 comments

I spent this morning having breakfast with my artist friend Steven S. Crompton. As part of our conversation, Steve presented me with this:

Grimtooth the Troll is having stern words with Alice Liddel while Demin the Domness flies by.

Grimtooth the Troll is having stern words with Alice Liddel while Demin the Domness flies by.

Among other things Steve is the prolific artist/writer of Demi the Demoness and the creator of Grimtooth the troll, who is a sort of mascot for Flying Buffalo and my Tunnels and Trolls game.  Recently he found some art of his that had never been published, or wasn’t seen much, and decided to bring it out as a book using as his publisher.  He finished the unfinished parts. edited, and published it.  In the past there was not sufficient justification for releasing this material, but now that print-on-demand is here, and anyone can self publish through sites like drivethru, Steve can offer his material to the world at last.  If only ten people see it and buy it, that’s  still 10 more than would have seen it before.

I have to say I was so pleased and honored to be given a copy that I bought him breakfast, so in a way, I bought his comic after all.  Looking inside, I see that this is number 3 of 100 that he had printed, and that I have his autograph.

I usually get a slightly fancier autograph than this.

I usually get a slightly fancier autograph than this.

Once upon a time we would try for an author’s autograph as a way of proving that we met the person, or of adding value to our purchase.  It’s a form of Magick.  The Law of Contagion states that things that were once connected are always connected, so if you have something that is signed by the creator, then you have a personal connection to that creator.

However, I have come to believe that autographs serve a different purpose now.  In this age of personal publishing, when most of us creators are very small fish in a big ocean of creativity, asking for and obtaining an autograph is a way for we consumers to acknowledge and thank the signer for the work they did in creating this work of art.  It’s a way for us to personally recognize and tell the creator that we are glad to have met him/her and we really appreciate the effort they made to create the book/art/object, and that it will be one of our treasures.

Having a Ken St. Andre, or a Steven S . Crompton, or a Roger Zelazny, or a Michael A. Stackpole autograph isn’t going to make this book/object particularly valuable.  The whole idea that putting someone’s name on something increases the value is kind of stupid, really.  We’re all of us human beings, and we all have equal value in the eyes of God and the Law.  But, the autograph is another kind of memorial–it is a record of personal contact between signer and receiver–a moment of good feeling between the two people–one that should make both of them feel better.

So, I have made efforts for years to get things signed when i buy them.  I would keep the autographed stuff to the very end, because those books, pictures, comics, games, and so forth mark some of the high points in my life–a time when I was able to connect with a creator and tell her/him that I think they’re special.

This blog is dedicated to my very good friend, Steven S . Crompton.  I appreciate what he has given me and the world, and I want to testify that he’s a special guy.


If you’ve ever collected autographs, or have any kind of special feeling about them, why not leave a comment?



2 responses to “The Golden Age of Creativity

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  1. It is for the reason you state: to show my appreciation, even love, for a creation, that I seek autographs from those I admire and/or whose work I admire. Many years ago, I became friends with a famous comic book and advertising artist, and rather took our friendship for granted. It was easy to see that he was bitter from the many times he’d felt cheated, or “missed the boat,” or lost capital investing time and money into projects. He chain smoked, he drank, and I don’t know what else.

    While we were moving from one duty station to another, I neglected my correspondence and it became months when I thought to check on Woody. That same day, I received word that he had taken his life.

    I don’t know if I could have made a difference. Now I’ll never know. I’ve made sure since that I let creators know when they’ve Done Good and made a difference in my life. Woody was the most talented guy I’ve ever known, but was out of money and out of work far too often. When he started losing his eyesight, he gave up hope. He thought that nothing he’d done really mattered. I’ll always regret not saying what I could have, should have.

    Creators deserve to know when they change the world, even a tiny bit, for the better.

  2. Collectors might still pay more for signed or numbered copies of things. However at my library (which is a pretty big one) we don’t even bother to make a note in the catalog about a book being signed by the author. We do however make a note if it is inscribed to some third party, or has some other message in the author’s hand…I guess the vast number of copies that get signed nowadays at book signings makes signatures less valuable?
    Still, I think there is a perceived value to having stuff signed as you say, and it does personalize the item, and above all it is nice to flatter the author a little by asking for a signature!

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