The Nerd Habit of Collecting Signatures

As I mentioned in a previous post, at MarsCon in Bloomington last weekend the son of a nerd who had died was selling his father’s collection of media, books, games and ephemera.

I picked up the Doctor Who cookbook from the previous century, some trading cards, all for pennies on the dollar. Perhaps the best find, or at least the one I can’t ever imagine finding again, was the single by the actor who played the third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, “Who is the Doctor?”

Some portion of the best bits of being a nerd are accumulating things that connect you to the stories you love. So I will listen to this once or twice, and then it will live alongside the five or six other 7-inch singles in my collection (“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” among others). Weird to imagine the third Doctor and Ian Curtis as contemporaries, but they are joined together in my imagination and heart.

One kind of story that the nerd will collect will include photos and autographs of the moments he shared with the creators of the stories he loved.

It is common, at smaller conventions, to bring all of the guests together for a group photograph. (This not not the case at the bigger conventions, which include stars too “big” for a group photo. You will never see the stars of Hall H at Comicon in a group photo.)

But at smaller conventions, stars spend more time together. They may know each other through performance. In the photo above, Colin Baker and Sarah Sutton and Lalla Ward (the ones I can make out) all starred in Doctor Who.

In this one, Frazier Hines and Peter Davison were stars in Doctor Who. Note the printed photos for the absent stars, so they could still sign, later.

In this one, Erin Gray (of Buck Rogers), Tracy Scoggins, I think (of Lois and Clark), and Sylvester McCoy (across people’s laps, of Doctor Who and of The Hobbit) are all together. I feel like I should know who the woman with the shock of grey hair is.

Above, we have author Paul Cornell, two actors from Blakes’s Seven, and lots of Doctor Who stars, I think.

Sometimes, these signatures were not prepackaged, the photo was not available for sale with all the signatures collected. Instead, one could secure the picture and then chase the signatures around the convention — a scavenger hunt of stories and memories.

If you know who some of these people are, please help me in the comments. I don’t know what I will do with these. I want to treasure them, but they aren’t my stories, so I don’t know how I feel.


Matthew James

about 4 months ago

The woman with the shock of grey hair appears to be Louise Jameson, at least according to the result IMDB gave me when I made a guess at her signature. She played Leela on Doctor Who from 1977-1978. And she's still a working actor. In addition to three upcoming projects, she returned to the role of Leela for 43 episodes of the Doctor Who podcast from 2012-2023 (which is three more than the number of times she performed as Leela on the TV series).

David Beard

about 4 months ago

Ahhhhh! I am beet red with embarrassment. I had such a crush on her in 1979 or so.

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