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Q&A with Matt Edwards of CBCS

While most comic cons have been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis, Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS) has been hard at work coordinating some high profile private signing opportunities for collectors. CBCS Signature Program Manager recently took some time to answer some questions for Collector Syndicate about his role with the company, these signings and more.

Gary Govel: How did you get into the collectibles/comics business?

Matt Edwards: I’ve been collecting comics and going to conventions since I was kid. After a while you meet enough people and learn how to make a few bucks doing it.

GG: Tell us a little about your history with CBCS, and your current role and responsibilities as Signature Program Manager.

ME: I started out submitting right when CBCS opened. I got to know everyone and eventually started working the booths at various shows for them. Then they hired me on to take over the Signature Program. Which involves working with artists, reps, facilitators, witnesses, setting up private signings at conventions. Pretty much anything that drives business through our Authenticated Signature Program.

Matt Edwards with CBCS President Steve Borock

GG: What signed books do you see submitted to CBCS most frequently?

ME: That changes with whatever is currently a “hot” book. Right now, it’s Batman 89, Year of the Villain Hell Arisen 3 and Venom 13, but there is always the New Mutant 98s, Iron Man 55s – – your staples.

GG: How does CBCS determine what shows it attends each year?

ME: There are a lot of factors that go into that decision. We want to be where our customers are but we also want to reach a new customer base as well, so we look at that and things like location and guest list.

GG: In addition to getting books signed in the presence of a CBCS witness, or through a facilitator, CBCS also uses Personal Authorized Witnesses in its Authentic Signature Program. What is a Personal Authorized Witness, how are applicants screened, and how do you determine how many (if any) are approved for a given show?

ME: Personal witnesses are people that if approved can witness thier own books. There is an application that asks a series of questions that help us gauge eligibility. They also have to have history with the company. If it’s your first time submitting a book with us, we are going to deny the request. We also do have a threshold of how many we will approve per given show, which is determined by factors such as size of show, guest list, and quantity of CBCS booth staff available at the show.

Matt Edwards and Matt Wagner

GG: If someone was approved as a Personal Authorized Witness for a show which was canceled due to the COVID-19 crisis, will that approval be honored at a re-scheduled date, or will re-application be required?

ME: If you have been approved for a show this year, the authorization will carry over to the rescheduled date as long as the show happens this year. If the show isn’t happening this year, we ask that you please reapply.

GG: Another service offered by CBCS is the Verified Signature Program. Tell us a little about that verification process.

ME: We use Beckett authentication services to verify any signature that wasn’t witnessed. They have a fantastic signature database that they use to compare multiple points of the signature. There are tell signs that these guys are great at picking out when a signature isn’t legit.

GG: If a creator’s signature changes over the course of a lengthy career, are the older versions still able to be verified?

ME: Signatures change all the time. Sometimes very drastically. Stan Lee, Bob Layton, Jim Lee – all guys that changed over the years. Beckett collects and stores various signatures to compare to.

GG: There’s rumor that CBCS will be launching a census feature. Will that census distinguish between counts of graded books with universal (blue) labels vs Signature Program labels (Authentic – yellow, Verified – red)?
ME: The very short answer…. yes!

Paul Dini and Matt Edwards

GG: CBCS is currently coordinating private signings with a series of high-profile creators- Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Frank Miller. How did these signings come to be, and what do you expect the process to look like? What are the benefits to the creators, fans, and to CBCS of a signing event like this?

ME: Back in March when they started “postponing” conventions I was already in the middle of trying to set up signings at some of the upcoming shows, so I recommended that we switch gears and do a mail in of our own. I reached out to the gentleman who reps these artists and writers and he agreed to it.

When we started this, we were unsure as to whether we would be able to receive the books at the office due to closures, so one of our Michigan based employees Cody Lockwood who is no stranger to working signing events, was kind enough to offer his address which has a secure locked mail location. He has already been receiving and organizing books. Starting in May the books will be signed at various signings throughout the month, Frank Miller being the last. We will then reorganize the orders and take the books to the grading facility where everyone’s books will be graded, encapsulated and shipped back to them.

Getting a book back signed and freshly slabbed is an exciting feeling. With everything that is going on, it’s nice to be able to have that feeling of excitement and normalcy. I think that feeling alone reaches across to fans, creators and us at CBCS.

GG: If these events are successful, can we anticipate more mail-in private signings from CBCS in the future?

ME: We have had a wonderful response to this so far and more are already in the works.

GG: Any other CBCS Signature Program news or announcements that collectors can expect to be hearing about?

ME: We have a few things in the pipeline. Nothing I can announce just yet. But I definitely don’t plan on sitting around doing nothing!!

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Gary Govel
Gary Govel is a life-long fan and collector of comics, with a particular interest in Marvel Bronze and Copper Age books. He recently launched Collector Syndicate to give fellow enthusiasts a place to show off their collections, and share their experiences about the hobby.

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