Hand-Signed By Jack Kirby…or Captain America? October 17, 2011 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns – Tags: , , , , ,

Y’now, sometimes life just throws comedic fodder right in your lap.

While searching online for USPS Captain America postage stamp art, I came across this on the Home Shopping Network’s site:

Screen-grab of the HSN site offering a gorgeous gicleé of CAP #100–“handsigned” by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, not Captain America. Too bad. (Click on it for larger image.)

 

If you attend the Comic-Con in San Diego, or other shows and galleries, you’ve probably seen this. It’s a beautiful, large piece on canvas. If you click on the link, you’ll see it’s listed as being “Handsigned [sic]  by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee.” I’ve seen them both unsigned and signed by Stan Lee, but never signed by *both* Stan and Jack.

Unless you’re new to the hobby, Jack passed away in 1994. So if he did sign these, they’re over 16 years old. But there’s no mention of a date, so one would have to assume they’re new; which means he couldn’t have signed them. (I wasn’t even sure that technology existed until I checked.)

With that in mind, I politely contacted the fine folks at HSN and asked them. Here’s my exact text:

<<Hello–

Regarding your description of the framed CAPTAIN AMERICA 100 giclee (Link: , The description said the piece was “hand-signed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.”

This is incorrect; Jack Kirby passed away in 1994. Unless you had him sign them 16 years ago (or if the giclee is 16 or more years old), the description is incorrect.

Thanks,

Mike>>

 

The main reason was, if Jack didn’t sign it, they’d be in dutch for false/misleading descriptions, which would result in some unhappy customers, inconvenient and expensive returns and possible negative PR. If it was signed, the piece is old and customers should know that too. (A third possibility, that the signature was a mechanical “autopen” one, should also be disclosed.)

To my pleasant surprise, I received a reply within a couple hours (those folks work quickly! Probably hoping I’d buy one). This is what they wrote, in its entirety:

 

<<Hello  Mr. Pascale,

Thank you for your comment in regards to Captain America.  It is my pleasure to assist you.       

This print is not signed by Captain America it is Handsigned by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this framed piece commemorates Captain America’s 50th birthday.

Sorry for the confusion.  Thanks for checking with us.

I truly appreciate your understanding in this matter and hope you allow us another opportunity to serve you in the future.

Sincerely,

Linda

hsn.com Customer Service>>

 

Sigh.

You see, this is my problem with so many “customer service” and “support” departments online. They never really read your question! Come on. I mean seriously, does anyone really think a fictitious character came to life and signed the thing? I’d believe Jack came back from the grave before I’d believe that!

Obviously, they must have some software that picks out keywords or something and then they send a canned response, since they must have a huge volume of questions. Or the person just skims the first few words and replies off the top of their heads. (Given the lousy punctuation, I’m inclined to believe the latter. Or maybe they hire for whom English is a second or fifth language?)

Either way, my question was not answered. So I asked again. This time, a different response, from a different individual:

 

<<Hello  Mr. Pascale,

Please allow me to apologize for the misunderstanding with regard to the authenticity of the handsigned lithograph item My name is Brian and I would like to provide you with information that will be helpful in resolving this concern.

Yes sir you are correct in assuming this must be older than 16 years old since the anniversary of captain america was back in 1991 which would make it 20 years old and  3 years before Mr. Kirby passed at the bottom of the page there is a disclaimer that does specify its authenticity

Mr. Pascale, I truly appreciate your understanding in this matter and  hope you allow us another opportunity to serve you in the future.

Thank you for shopping online with us.

Sincerely,

 Brian M.

Sr. Account Supervisor

hsn.com Customer Service>>

 

 

Now it’s interesting! Several things jump out:

–Linda is nowhere to be found, replaced by “Brian M.” (His title is “Sr. Account Supervisor”, which apparently earned him a last initial rather than just a first name.) One wonders if Linda needed additional training to not assume her customers were morons who thought fictitious characters came to life to sign items? Or was she as crushed as I was to find out Cap didn’t sign the piece?

–The giclee is indeed (allegedly) signed by Jack because it’s from 1991, the (50th) “anniversary” of Cap. (Notice the implied attitude that I’m an idiot for not figuring this out.) Yet, as you can plainly see on the screen-grab, there is NO mention whatsoever of either fact. (Just to be sure, I conducted a browser “find” search of both “anniversary” and “1991” and neither were found on the page.) So how exactly are customers supposed to know this, Bri?

–I did not know that Jack had “passed at the bottom of the page.” What a way to go! I’m envisioning some weird TRON-like scenario. Oh wait, maybe that’s a typo.

–Speaking of which, notice again the lack of punctuation and attention and editing. HSN must pay their employees by the keystroke. So, rather than go for clarity and professionalism, they’re saving money. Tough economy, I guess.

–“There is a disclaimer that does specify its authenticity.” Umm, no there isn’t. All I see is, under “What You Get” is “certificate of authenticity.” That is hardly provenance. Who issued the certificate? Where and when was this signed? Who ordered and paid Jack for it at the time? I guess you have to blow $1,200 to find out.

Bottom line, I’m not biting this time. I do appreciate their courtesy. It’s refreshing. But if I’m spending a grand (or even fifty bucks), I need to know exactly what I’m buying. And frankly, if HSN can’t take the time to put full and correct information on a $1,000-plus item, how accurate do you think they are on the less expensive ones? Does that fill you full of confidence?

 

Me, I don’t plan on becoming a customer anytime soon.

Unless, of course, they offer something signed by Cap himself!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best,

Mike

 

P.S.: If you’d like a hand-signed AND hand-drawn piece of art (one that’s new and not 20 years years old) of Cap or any other character, just ask Craig here. Heck, maybe you can sell it on HSN!

P.P.S.: I will be making my first west coast convention appearance in over a decade at the end of the month at The Long Beach Comic-Con! I’ll be there with fellow WH friend and art-god Dave Gutierrez as well as site-master general himself, Craig! Come by and say Hi or tell me some good jokes. Mention the blog and get something silly for free! More info: http://www.longbeachcomiccon.com/

 

 

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