About 4 months ago, I decided that I was going to attend the Cincinnati Comic Expo. For mostly one reason, Darwyn Cooke. The second being able to buy LOVE AND CAPES from Thom Zahler. That was it. Sure, they announced a few more talented creators to be there, but the Expo is not just a comic con. It's a media event. The very opposite of the con that preceded it by a week and one I attended myself, the CincyCon. The amount of difference in these two cons was very apparent.
I don't know exactly what I was expecting. It had been awhile since I had went to a con that was more focused on the celebrity factor. They're ok. But I'm there for the comic people. The CincyCon had a nice steady trail of people and traffic. For the most part, they were polite and made way for you. Can't say that for the Expo. The people were in droves and it was hard to make it through the aisles, let alone stop at a table and look. It was crazy. It was like a river. You just kind of moved along or got trampled. I felt bad for the those there with little ones.
Now before I go further, anyone who knows anything about these two cons is that you find yourself in one camp or the other. I'm no different. The CincyCon was more my type of con. The celebrities there were the comic people. They were approachable and generous with both their time and would sign books if you brought them. At the Expo, it was a little bit different story.
I hesitate to start commentary on this. I can sort of see both sides of the argument I'm about to talk about. Comic creators charging for their signatures on comics brought to the con (not bought from their table).
Despite my age, I am relatively new to comic conventions. It was always my assumption that creators were more than glad to sign books you bought as appreciation for supporting their work. And for the couple of years I have been going to them, I have brought books with me. I am, out of courtesy, always prepared to purchase something new from their table (except Mark Waid, whom after I got star struck completely forgot to buy the script he was offering and I STILL feel bad for that). I thought that was fair. But at the Expo more than one creator was charging for signatures, two very well known to those of my generation. And this was even if you bought other things on their table.
I understand to a point, I do. You're surrounded by celebrities (some of which can barely make that claim) charging way too much for their autograph and photo. In addition, fans are coming to your table, asking for you to sign your book and then they run to get it authenticated and graded for more money. You're not making anything off that and you're the reason it's valuable. So what do you do to maybe equal things for yourself? But one artist was charging $30 for a signature (just one) and the same to have a picture taken with him (your camera). The other was charging $5 per book, which while better, if you have a lot of books that can get expensive. Not all creators there were charging for their signatures (thank you Darwyn Cooke and Lee Weeks!!!), but how long will it be till everyone says "Me too?"
Now it's all elective. You can choose to pay for it or not. But is this really where the comic convention scene is going? The Expo wasn't cheap. Especially for the three tickets I bought. Nothing in there was free, you have to buy more to bring anything out. That's expected. But now, am I going to have to elect to no longer take my treasured comics to the cons to meet my favorite creators in fear of either offending them for not wanting to pay for the sigs, or offending me for charging too much?
Room for further thought I believe.
A lifelong comics fan, Mike W. Belcher is the writer/artist of MAN IN THE MASK. A story he's had with him for over 20 years.