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Andrew Vachss Signature and Chop
September 2007

Not so long ago, Andrew Vachss had a standing policy that he would inscribe books for fans who had been unable to attend a tour event. This service was free of charge, with no "premium" added for the signature. Unfortunately, that program had to be suspended because so many merchants posed as fans in order to acquire signed copies for which they would charge customers a premium. The suspension caused an increase in demand for Mr. Vachss' signed books, since less "product" was available. Why anyone would buy a "signed" book without first demanding to see a scan of the signature is beyond us. However, some merchants have built businesses based solely on the naivete of their customers. Sometimes asking for a scan can produce very interesting results.

Take, for example, the case of eBay merchant "jdmusicbookman." Although Mr. Vachss has not signed galleys, page proofs, Advanced Reading Copies, or any such materials for many years, "jdmusicbookman" offered for sale on eBay a "signed" Advanced Reading Copy of Two Trains Running. Immediately upon viewing the scan, one could see the signature was fraudulent. When contacted about the provenance of the book, "jdmusicbookman" claimed, "I purchased this book already signed from a very reputable book store in Rhode Island—Cellar Stories. I was not present at the signing but I have never had a problem with any item that I purchased from them."

We contacted Mike Chandley, the owner of Cellar Stories Bookstore in Providence, RI, and he disavowed having ever sold any such book. We next contacted eBay, who canceled the auction. What eBay would not do is cancel "jdmusicbookman." Anyone who has eBay confused with a public service organization probably believes politicians are public servants.

So where does this leave the fan who wants a signed copy of an Andrew Vachss book, but doesn't live anywhere near one of his tour stops? We've been contacted by endless numbers of people asking us to authenticate Mr. Vachss' signature on a book they have already purchased, but we're not in that business. What we can now offer is an amazing resource through the courtesy of Andrew's brother Geofrey Darrow.

Mr. Darrow, the conceptual designer for The Matrix trilogy and winner of every graphic novel award including the most highly regarded Eisner Award for writing and drawing the infamous Shaolin Cowboy, offered us a unique, beautiful solution—a personal "chop" of Andrew's beloved pit bull, Honey. Mr. Vachss will sign through this chop on all autographs beginning September 13, 2007. It will look something like this:

click to enlarge

Caveat emptor.

In our opinion, any reputable seller of "signed" merchandise would send you a scan of the signature on request. Regardless, be aware of the fact that anything can be Photoshopped. We're not saying that if you see what's shown above, the signature's authentic; what we're saying is, if you don't see it, it's not. It's always best to ask the seller, "Where'd you get that signed copy?" If what you want in your collection are only authentic signatures, you have to raise your standards, especially when buying over the Internet . . . or some of you are surely going to get burned.


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