Awesome Con 2024 - Part 5: Mark Bagley (Part 2), And Keith Williams

My adventure with Mark Bagley continued into a slew of signatures on his Amazing Spider-Man run. As I mentioned in my last Bagley post, with all of these below, there are only thirty-four issues left which I "need" his signature on. Of course, when you throw in annuals, and other work, there's much more... I'll keep chiseling away at it (hopefully).

Mark Bagley after signing my convention book - 
He actually signed on the back side

Alright, let's dig in.

I started with issues 351 through 358, as well as 363, 373, and 374. These were a priority because these "older" issues in his run were ones I have fond memories of from when I was a teenager.

Key issue!

Key issue!

I love this cover for The Amazing Spider-Man 374!

After checking off those books, I had to get a bit selective as to what I wanted. Again, it all came down to space. I couldn't feasibly carry them all with me. Because of this, I opted to focus on key books throughout his run (which I hadn't gotten signed already).

Issue 394 is a flip book, and I asked if he would sign both sides.

Same for issue 397.

Though the series ran through issue 441 (initially), issue 416 was Bagley's last. It's not a key, per se, but it is to me for being his final (in the original volume).

Could I have hopped on the metro, grabbed a ticket for Sunday, and cleaned up on my Bagley signatures. Yeah, I could have. But, it just doesn't feel like it would be as special if I just dropped the whole pile on his table, and said, "Get to signing....please and thank you" I'd like each batch to be meaningful, picking them in priority order, and eventually (if the opportunity allows), get to the finish line. Plus, there's just something exciting about the thrill of going to a future convention he could be at. It keeps the process fun, and not done and forgotten.

Mark Bagley: $10.00 per signature / free if personalized

Once I had all my signatures from Mark Bagley, which included a few more issues we'll go into below, I made my way to Keith Williams.

Keith Williams after signing and
remarking The Official Marvel Try-Out Book

Okay, story time.

It's widely known that Mark Bagley got his start at Marvel Comics after submitting a copy of The Official Marvel Comics Try-Out Book. I brought this along with me to get Mr. Bagley's signature on it, which he did indeed do, and drew a little spider logo.

I also brought with me What If (volume 2) issue four, which is a story based on the symbiote, and coincidentally, was worked on my both Bagley and Williams. Once I got Bagley's signature on the issue, I made my way to Mr. Williams table to get his autograph.

Signed by Mark Bagley and
Keith Williams at Awesome Con 2024

Because of the size of the Try-Out book, it wasn't something I could put in my backpack. Instead, it spent the entire convention tucked under my arm, being put down on the various tables I stopped at. It was at Mr. William's table that when he saw it, he lit up, beaming with a smile. He asked, "Is that the Marvel Try-Out book?" To which I said, "Yes. I brought it with me to get signed by Mark Bagley, because that's how he got hired at Marvel." Mr. Williams said, "Me too!"

Wait, hold the phone! Keith Williams also got hired at Marvel after submitting his own copy? Sure enough, that is the case. Turns out, his wife didn't even know, and she too wanted a photo of him holding the book.

Also signed by Mark Bagley at
Awesome Con 2024, as well as  Al Milgrom
at Baltimore Comic Con 2023

Sweet remarks from both Williams and Bagley

My initial goal was to get this signed by Al Milgrom (check), Jim Shooter, and John Romita (sadly passed away in 2023), as the three creators behind the book, as well as Mark Bagley (also check) based on his history with it. However, after hearing Keith Williams' story, it makes me want to research just who got hired at Marvel based on this publication. More signatures may "need" to follow.
Marvel did print an official list of winners for the contest, and while Williams isn't on it, the announcement also says that people can and should continue to use the book in soliciting the company for opportunities, and even printed the address to send a payment directly to them to get a copy of the book. So basically, it's anyone's guess as to just who got hired at the company based on this book. I guess I'm going to have to ask when I meet people, which means I am going to have to have this behemoth in tow with me when I go to conventions.

Keith Williams: $5.00 per signature / $5.00 per remark

Another book which I got multiple signatures on was Spider-Man 26. This one got signed by Mark Bagley, Keith Williams, Klaus Janson, and Joe Rubinstein throughout the day.
While signing, Mark told a story about how at the time Spider-Man books were selling a million copies per issue, and as a result, the royalties being paid out were ridiculously high. As such, he was baffled when Ron Frenz, who was initially hired to do the pencils for the book, stepped away after completing just four pages to chase after a girl. Bagley happily finished the issue on his behalf.

Signed by Renee Witterstatter
at Big Lick NOVA 2024

Despite having a list of books I was interested in (possibly) buying, none of the dealers I went to had any of them. They either didn't at all, or sold them earlier in the day, or the day before. In short, shopping was not lucrative.

I did, however, pick up the Bagley cover of Ultimate Spider-Man (2024). This series is red hot right now, with multiple prints of issue number one selling out just as quickly as they hit store shelves. As of this writing, they're up to five published printings, with a sixth on the way, hitting shelves June 12, 2024.

Naturally, I made my way all the way back to Mark's table to get my copy signed. This was actually the very last thing I did before leaving the show.

I'm glad he said how ugly the cover was, because I was certainly thinking it. The artwork, especially for his history on the character, is awful. All the female characters could easily pass as men, and in general, it's just really bad work. Still, I hear the story is amazing, so I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.


  1. Fascinating story about the Marvel Try Out Book. Very cool.

    1. There's all kinds of fun inner working stories around the Marvel and DC bullpens.

  2. Those covers are all 💯 I didn't collect as much Spider-Man as a kid as I should have.