These Are Your First Steps: Becoming a 'Star Wars' Autograph Collector
I’ve been collecting autographs for 19 years. However, i went 19 years between actually adding autographs to my collection.
The first time I met an actor from that Galaxy Far, Far Away, a scheduling snafu at the University of Massachusetts got me a laugh with Billy Dee Williams.
I was stuck in an Intro to Acting class, and although the aspiring performers shrugged with indifference, my heart dropped like I’d seen a rancor when my professor told us that Williams would be a guest lecturer.
Present-day me would have found an 8x10 of Blue Cape Lando or maybe a mint-on-card Kenner. I settled, instead, for a quickly made Paintbrush image of General Lando next to a bottle of Colt .45. Underneath I typed, “The Only Brew Fine Enough for Lando Calrissian,” and I may have actually been drinking Colt .45 as I slapped it together.
When he saw my creation, he belly laughed - just like on the Bespin landing platform-and eagerly snatched my Sharpie.
For Dana. May the Force be with You. Billy Dee Williams. 2/18/2000.
I haven’t preserved many personal items over the last two decades, but that signed photo has remained pristine, hidden from light and tucked into a plastic sleeve.
I didn’t think much of it, or the autograph until last April.
Shortly after the “Episode IX” panel at Celebration, I spent 15 minutes in a conference room with Daisy Ridley, basking in the glow of the last (and most beautiful) Jedi.
This journalist-turned-high school teacher wound up in that room because a former student was having his Make-a-Wish trip fulfilled to meet Ms. Ridley. I came away with a pair of signed posters, and I returned home anxious to point at the silver “Forcefully Yours!” she inscribed upon one.
That’s when I discovered Star Wars Autograph Universe.
I remember thinking, I wonder if Daisy signs a lot...or, Too bad I’ll never get a signed “Rise of Skywalker” to complete the trilogy.
Except I could. After a cursory internet search, I encountered the Star Wars Autograph Universe.
This is a place where people are excited to meet and gain a scribble from anyone who played a part in creating our shared passion. It’s a place where, in some small way, you can be acknowledged by your hero.
That’s how I felt when I received my personalized Harrison Ford this month - even if a Rodian pointing a blaster at his chest might not help him remember scrawling my name. Like the Kessel Run, he’s heard of me, and that’s what I’ll tell anyone who looks at the 11x14 hanging in blaster-proof glass in my living room. And when they ask how in the world I obtained it? I’ll think of this group, our brothers and sisters in “Star Wars,” and how online communities like this have made collecting any autograph (save maybe Natalie Portman’s) possible.
I’ve also learned that this can be an expensive hobby. Recently, Andy cited the Japanese budgeting system of Kakeibo, created long before online shopping made money we don’t actually have even easier to spend.
If we are to follow its tenets, the autograph collecting world is dealing in wants, and we need to keep perspective. When considering a new piece, I start by asking myself, did I take from anywhere else to acquire this? Will I have to cut financial corners? Will there be a touch of Oh-My-God-I-Kissed-My-Sister shame at looking at that signature? If the answer is yes, I’m not buying yet.
In that same post, Andy advised us to spend in cash whenever possible. Sure, it would be simple to get a high-balance credit card and email Andy (NEVER message!) for every signing he announces. Just like having a stammering inmate break you out of a Canto Bight prison, though, that can turn ugly quick. I’m friendly with PayPal and stash $20 here, $50 there... Adopt the discipline of a Jedi, and by the time Frank Oz (probably not) announces he’ll be at Celebration, you’ll have what you’ll need to add him to your collection.