Category Archives: COAs

Sketch Certificates

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There is a pretty stout list of Ultraverse books that got the “creator autograph” treatment; some distributed by Malibu, some by Dynamic Forces and a few others including Catalyst and Atomic Comics. I’m putting a list together.

strangerssketch1 hcsketch1But I would put these books at the top of the list just for being cool. They are signed first issues of Strangers and Hardcase, but each certificate includes a hand-drawn sketch by artist Rick Hoberg (Strangers) and Jim Callahan (Hardcase). They are numbered to 200 but I don’t recall seeing these when they were released so I am not sure how they were distributed.

These are authentic. Says so right there. I even erased a tiny bit of one line to make sure it was an actual pencil sketch. Yep, authentic. Should have trusted the certificate.

I paid in the range of $20 each for these (they were in a lot with a few other things). The only difference between them is that the Hardcase book has a special sticker on its cheap plastic sleeve. I will probably take it out of there anyway and put it in a nice bag/board.

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Well, this is rare …

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I have thought for years that the Mantra Ultra-Limited Archive Edition is one of the tougher Ultraverse books to find. You just rarely see one for sale, even though the COA says that there were 500 of them. And 500 of something is rare but not, uh, Ultra-rare.

photo (3)Anyway, I found a copy on eBay last week and punched a BIN for $13. That’s more than I like to spend, but like I said, you hardly ever see this book. It arrived safe and sound and I put a couple of pictures up on the Ultraverse Facebook group, which led to some background information being posted.

This book was the brainchild of then-Malibu Marketing Manager Ross Richie. His idea was “to give retailers something super-rare and extra special they couldn’t get anywhere else. It was like a customer loyalty program — you supported Malibu, now we’re supporting you and appreciate you. My job was to handle retailer relationships, so I’d talk to them and put together a care package of posters and buttons and add that or some other curio and ship it out.”

Head of marketing Tom Mason (who also was an Ultraverse co-founder and wrote Dinosaurs for Hire and co-wrote Prototype) gave him the okay, so Richie ordered the stamp, created the certificates and got Chris Ulm and Mike Barr to autograph them. When he wanted to send one out he would stamp the book and put a package together. But he says he did this less than 30 times.

Then Marvel bought Malibu. Richie left Malibu shortly after, followed by Mason. The Ultra Archive project shut down when Richie left and the remaining certificates, as far as he knows, were tossed in recycling bins like so many other incentive books when the Malibu offices closed.

So good luck finding one of these! There are definitely some hard-to-find books from the early days of the Ultraverse … this might be the toughest of all.

Richie went on to become the CEO and Founder of BOOM! Studios, which is hitting a 10-year milestone for publishing comics in 2015.


Signed Solitaire 1

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df2I thought this was a pretty good find. Solitaire 1 by itself isn’t rare at all, but this is one of the lowest runs I have ever seen for a Dynamic Forces signed version … just 50 (I got No. 36). This was the book that came in the black bag with a card. I’ve busted open a few and just about every one I have opened had an Ace of Clubs. After a lot of searching I found an Ace of Diamonds on eBay. And now I have a Heart. Since the promo card is a Joker (very easy to find) that just leaves me one more card for the set. Pretty low on my list of priorities, though.

For some reason Solitaire was the focus for three different Dynamic Forces signings: this one, a 75-count set that had the first four issues signed by Jeff Johnson and a 7500-count set that was just the first issue. There weren’t too many other DF Ultraverse books; this post has the list as I know it.


Godwheel 0 signed

I just bought this one off eBay, and might have overpaid a bit at around $10 shipped. But it’s a pretty low run at 250 copies and I haven’t seen many for sale. Unfortunately it was dinged up a bit … perhaps someone sat on it. Argh.

It is signed by Mark Pacella. There are a few different Dynamic Forces signed editions of Ultraverse comics, ranging from 10,000 Rune 1s signed by Barry Windsor-Smith down to 50 for a Solitaire 1 set. I’m still working on compiling that list, but here’s what I have so far:

Firearm: 1 (2000)
Nightman (7500)
Rune: 1 (10000)
Rune 1 Giant Size (250)
Godwheel 0 (250)
Solitaire: 1 (7500), 1 and Hearts (50), Collection 1-5 (75)

Probably not a complete list, but I’m adding them as I spot them.


Signed Rune 1

So how long would it take you to sign your name 10,000 times? Even if your name was just a long string of squiggles, I imagine it would still take a good long while.

Barry Windsor-Smith could tell you how long it takes, since he did it for Dynamic Forces. There were a number of signed Ultraverse books that went into the thousands, but this is the king of them all. Not surprisingly it is fairly common on eBay, but it usually sells for a few bucks. For his sake, I hope somebody else had to do the numbering because that looks like it was a bigger pain than the signatures.

I asked BWS to sign a couple of books and cards at a con a few years back. He signed the books with the squiggle, but he initialed the cards “BWS.” Squiggles aside, the man has very nice handwriting.


Lord Pumpkin 0

This is the origin story for one of the better bad guys in the Ultraverse, definitely one of the coolest-looking. I figured I would post this now since I just finished the NecroMantra stuff.

 

There are two covers but the content is the same, and I don’t think that one is much rarer than the other (maybe the one with a close-up of LP’s face is a little tougher to find). Try not to spend more than a buck for either one.

There is also a signed version of the first cover that comes with an Ultraverse certificate of authenticity.

There were a number of different Ultraverse books that got this treatment, maybe a couple of dozen. I’m working on a list …

 


Prime Printer’s Proof

You want oddball? We got oddball.

This is one of the first Ultraverse items I collected after a long “career” of chasing down Valiant stuff. Like the certificate says, it’s a printer’s proof. I suppose that means this was taken from some of the first comics off the press, and the sides have not been trimmed (it looks sort of like a newspaper’s edges). It’s definitely different, and fun variants like this are part of why I like collecting this stuff.

Prime was the inaugural launch title from the Ultraverse, and this is one of the ways Malibu commemorated it. As far as print runs … who knows? Printer proofs are created so editors can check for mistakes and color corrections, so normally the print run should be small. I don’t recall seeing any of these back in the 1990s and I have no idea how they were distributed.

I paid a couple of bucks for mine. Every now and then — a couple or three times a year — they show up on eBay. Sometimes there is a minor bidding war to help the price reach double figures but usually these sell for a couple of bucks.


Limited Super Premium Editions

Now that’s a pretentious-sounding category. And they had a price to match; IIRC these were sold for $40 each (you could also buy a simpler Limited Premium Edition without the signatures and with a different cover for $10). Each book paired an Ultraverse franchise with their Marvel counterparts: Exiles and X-Men, Prime and Hulk, Nightman and Wolverine.

The stories were … well, never mind. The art is straight out of those mid-1990s stylebooks. It’s hard to believe they sold many of these at those prices. Now you can get them cheap, of course. I pay a buck or two when I can. I bought a short stack of the Nightman and Wolverine signed books once for $1.50 each. I see these all the time on eBay for $30-40 BINs, sometimes even over $100. Good luck with that.

The signed versions look pretty nice.

 

There are two different versions of each, although the only difference is the certificate of authenticity. One was done by Dynamic Forces, the other by American Entertainment. As far as I can tell, the signatures are the same for each version.

 

Here are the three Limited Premium Editions. These did not come with COAs or signatures.

I really can’t imagine paying $15 for a single comic book, but those were some free-wheeling days.

Still, I would not be surprised if there were several large boxes of these stashed in a warehouse somewhere.

These are pretty cheap now; last time I checked on eBay somebody was selling these in bundles of 25 (and he had several of these for sale) for less than $15 shipped. Maybe he’s the dude with the warehouse.

 

Once when I was looking around eBay I noticed an auction for one of the Limited Super Premium Edition Prime and Hulk books. But it didn’t say anything about it being signed, and from the picture I could not tell if there were any signatures. What the heck, I spent a few bucks to see what it was.

When I got the book, sure enough it was the version that was supposed to have signatures but the cover was not signed. There was no COA either. This seems like more of a mistake than something that ought to be on the checklist, but I still think it’s pretty cool. Then a few months later I got a similar LSPE Exiles and X-Men with no signatures. I have yet to find the Nightman and Wolverine version, but I’m sure it’s out there.

   


Mantra Ultra-Limited Archive Edition

This is definitely one of the harder-to-find books. They made 500 of them but they don’t really look that special so I would imagine that many of these are languishing in comic shop budget bins or stuck in closets. You see one on eBay once in a great while. I got mine, like so many other Ultraverse books, on accident. I bought a silver Mantra hologram cover and this book was thrown in as a freebie. Nice!

Its value is hard to define. I would pay $5 if I saw one at a convention or comic shop, maybe $10 depending on how my day was going. And for me that is a lot. There are very few Ultraverse books for which I would pay more than a buck or two. Not that I don’t want them, but I will probably see them somewhere else for a very low price. If you’re patient, all this stuff is cheep. Er, cheap.

The thing to distinguish this book as an “archive edition” is a unique stamp that you can barely see on the right side of the cover (it says “Mantra Archive Edition“). And if there were 5,000 of each Ultra 5,000 print run, well, here is what happened to 500 of them.

The certificate is signed by Mike Barr and Chris Ulm. The cert says the book came in a ProGard but mine is just in a regular bag and board.

Edit: Snarky bits removed …