By Ian Melton
For most comic book fans comic book conventions like Emerald City Comic-Con are the only way fans are going to meet their favorite creators and if possible get them to sign stuff, as store signings by creators aren’t common for many fans to be able to attend. However, most conventions have “celebrities” attending as well who charge for their signatures, usually with a minimum of $25 per signature, but most charge far more. And then there are those comic book creators who have made the transition from being creators to being considered “celebrities”, Stan Lee being the most famous. Stan Lee’s signature, no matter the item, is $100 right now and the older he gets the more it seems to go up.
Many creators who see this, the idea that they attend conventions and don’t make much, would make many wonder why they shouldn’t charge for their signature, especially when they see fans getting signatures and then flipping the books on Ebay and making a profit off their signatures. Particularly for creators who are just writers, making money at conventions is hard, whereas artists make money off sketches or selling prints at conventions. However, the trend at ECCC was to see more and more creators charging for their signatures, up in ECCC’s artist’s alley.
Neal Adams is the main creator that can be seen doing this, as Adams’ signature is a straight $30 for any item, unless you buy it from him and then the signature is free on that item. Rob Liefeld, since the Deadpool movie broke records, has followed suit with a $30 charge, unless you buy a $30 item from him, the signature is free. Liefeld has also taken the model a step further and charges $60 for signing any copy of New Mutants #87 and #98 (the first appearances of Cable and Deadpool respectfully) and also offering a Rob Liefeld VIP Convention pass. As seen on his site for Wondercon this year:
The VIP Extreme Liefeld Package is available for $125.00 advance ticket purchase and includes:
2 Signed Exclusive Deadpool & X-Men comics from Rob Liefeld Creations Collection
1 Signed Deadpool Print
1 Autograph ticket
VIP Front of the line for Rob’s autograph session
At ECCC this lead to Liefeld’s twice a day, or often once a day, signature lines to be extremely long as the VIP lines were admitted before anyone else, and people were lining up to get signatures 2 to 3 hours in advance at certain points. Liefeld himself though was very friendly at all interactions and had his daughter or sons taking pictures for him if a fan wanted to pose for a picture with him (no charge for that).
Deadpool’s other daddy, Fabian Nicieza, has followed suit but not as extreme on price, as at ECCC he was charging $10 for signing any X-Men book or X-Men related book (including New Mutants, X-Force, Cable, Cable & Deadpool, and Deadpool), that meant even New Mutants #98. To sign any other books he has written was free (so fans of the New Warriors didn’t have to pay just stay in line for a really long time). In addition, he was selling prints of Deadpool as Uncle Sam for $20 (or $30 for 2) with a word bubble that he would add dialogue to (a very creative idea in my opinion). Again Nicieza was treating fans with great respect and was super friendly, taking to some fans for 5 to 15 minutes.
Other creators also returned to ECCC with charges for their autographs but only after offering their first three signatures free. Scott Snyder and Tim Sale both had this policy, charging $5 per signature after the first three free were used. Creators charging like this also seem to have “people” with them as well, either directing the lines, collecting the money, or making sure fans in line understand the policies, sometimes have multiple people to do each of these. Liefeld had at least 4 to 5 people working for him (or with him), Sale and Snyder had people as well, and those working with them were not supplied by the convention.
Now not everyone at ECCC in Artist’s Alley was charging for signatures, in fact, most weren’t. Creators from Jeff Lemire, to Charles Soule, to Jim Zub, to Becky Cloonan, to Gail Simone, to Joe Kelly, to… well, the list is very long were willing to sign books, some even do free sketches, just depending on line length and time. The changing convention landscape in Artist’s Alley isn’t done changing and popularity of conventions and creators will promote more creators to charging and some to take the opposite approach. When going looking for signatures the main thing is to try to find signs with information about what a creator is or isn’t charging for, and when in doubt ask before you put anything down to get signed.