Saturday, July 18, 2015

Con Prep: Signatures, Etiquette, And Comics

The Boston Comic Con is now just 2 weeks away and so I am nearing the end of my Convention Preparation posts.

Most of my posts have been dealing with strategizing about commissions. But I realize that commissions aren't for everyone.

So I thought I would briefly talk about my approach to meeting creators, getting signatures, picking comics for signatures, and showing your fellow fans a little bit of courtesy. I'll throw in some personal anecdotes.

For me, one of the biggest thrills of conventions is to meet the creators who make the books that I love. Conventions give you the opportunity to walk up, shake hands, thank the creator for their works, and hopefully chat. This is an even bigger deal when you get to meet a creator you consider a legend or who is one of your favorites. It is even better when you can have the creator sign some of the comics you cherish. A couple of things things I have to keep in mind.

When meeting a creator, try to estimate the crowd who is also there to meet that creator. I tend to think about it the same way I think about planning out my commissions. Is the creator hugely popular? Is there going to be a huge line? How much time do you want to devote to waiting in line to meet the creator, especially in the context of how much time you are going to be at the con? 

For example, at this upcoming Boston Comic Con, I am already anticipating that the lines for Babs Tarr, Jason Latour, and Jimmy Palmiotti/Amanda Conner are going to be very long. If I wasn't planning out my commission route in the early goings, I would probably head to one of their tables first. Two years ago, I knew Scott Snyder would have an enormous line, so I had to plan when in the con I was going to stand for hours.

Now, for someone whose work I absolutely love, I usually have to take a deep breath before meeting them so I don't sound like a gushing fanboy. Usually I try to come up with something cogent to say when I meet them although in the end it often degrades to 'hi, I love your work!'

When in line or at the table, take stock of the environment around you. Is there a huge line behind you? If so, picture yourself as one of them. Even if you have a great ice breaker and a burning question, understand that others are just as eager. Try to move things along. Now if the creator is engaging you and talking, you can stretch the time out a bit. If there is no line, feel free to linger and chat as long as it feels comfortable. But try to be courteous. If you are staying late, consider wandering back to the table as the con winds down. A lot of the crowd thins out. You might be able to re-engage when there are no lines.

One of my favorite con moments was meeting Howard Chaykin at the Boston Con a handful of years ago. I am a huge Chaykin fan. It was the middle of the afternoon, there was no one at his table. I actually was able to sit down and talk to him for about 15 minutes. It was fantastic.

Signed by Wolfman, Perez, & Ordway
A tried and true ice breaker is bringing comics to get signed.

Now personally I try to limit the number of books I bring to get signed to 5. I will expand that to 10 if it is a creator who I highly admire. But I never break the 10 rule. It isn't fair to the creator or the other fans behind me. I also might try to cherry pick a bit to see if there is an issue that I can get multiple signatures on.

Some creators  limit the number of books they will sign. So when putting together a stack to bring, prioritize in your mind which are the ones you want signed the most. Don't be flummoxed trying to figure that out at the table! Preparation is key!

Nothing irks me more than someone bringing a brick of comics up to a creator to get signed. Part of that is my take on these signatures. I think it should be limited to specific issues which I think are special. Sure I'll bring up my share of #1's, first issues of historic runs, or 'important issues' to get signed. That's why I have Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 signed by Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway. That's why I have Thor #337 signed. But my guess is those guys have signed a lot of those particular issues.

Signed Kupperberg, Infantino, & Buckler
But as a big Supergirl fan, I will always prioritize Supergirl issues over other stuff to get signed. For example, when Carmine Infantino was a guest in Boston, he limited signatures to two items. Infantino is best known for the Flash and Adam Strange. But I brought up Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1. Because that issue means more to me than other stuff he did. His signature wasn't a speculating mission to increase the value of an old book. This wasn't a mainstream 'important' issue. But it meant a lot to me.

It's why, despite having a trove of Adam Hughes covers of Wonder Woman, I brought up a variant cover of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes to him.

Lastly, I also like to try to pick out an unusual issue that means a lot to me to bring up to a creator as that can sometimes lead to a conversation (should time and courtesy permit).

I adore 1st Issue Special #9 Dr. Fate issue. So I brought this issue to get signed by both Walt Simonson and Joe Kubert. There are plenty of 'more important' issues by those creators to get signed but not for me. This issue is one of my favorite of all times! It merits getting signed.

When Frank Quitely was a guest at a con I went to, I had All-Star Superman #1 and New Xmen #114. But I also brought All-Star Superman #10, my favorite issue of that run. When I mentioned that to Quitely, he said it was his favorite of the run as well which led to a nice little chat.

My buddy met Brian Michael Bendis at a con. Bendis limited to five signatures. One of the issues my buddy brought to get signed was New Avengers #53 because it had a big comic brawl he loved. Bendis actually paused when he saw that issue in the pile, probably because he doesn't sign that one too often. It led to a cool conversation as well.

 Lastly, the creator may ask to personalize the signature, adding "To ___" your name on the cover. I suppose it is a way to separate speculators from fans. Let them do it.

As for me, I try to organize the issues I want to get signed by having individual  folders envelopes set up with the issues for each creator inside. This way it is easy for me to find the issues I want a creator to sign once inside.

Since I have a big backpack and a car at the con, I can bring a lot of books. I usually decant the bag in the middle of the con, putting signed issues in the car and bringing new folders into the convention. If I didn't have the car nearby, I would probably have to pare down even more.

Hope this helps.

1 comment:

Uncle Screensaver said...

Just to let you know, Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 has just been released digitally! Whoda thought that'd happen!