There is a big debate unfolding right now in the comic book community about whether creators should charge for an autograph or not when they set up a booth at a convention. This all stems from some happenings at the Baltimore Comic-Con last weekend. Some collect money for charity, others do it to support themselves, but it’s happening more and more, and it’s turning creators against each other, pushing fans to each side of the divide, and causing disagreemens between normally collegial co-workers like Jason Tabrys and myself. A civil disagreement, but a disagreement all the same. And so, with our two differing opinions, it seemed like a good idea to take this fight to the page and lay out our arguments. And, because Jason and I are on the outside looking in on this particular issue, we also invited iconic comic book writer (Daredevil, Kingdom Come, Irredeemable, and soon Black Widow), Thrillbent.com creator, retailer, historian, and comic book convention staple Mark Waid to give us his take on the overall issue. So, read up on these three unique takes and let us know where you stand.
Creators Should Charge
I’m all for comic book creators charging to sign autographs, whether it’s a charitable donation or a straight-up transaction.
First of all, most of the guests at comic-cons are freelancers. They’re either promoting a book or are there to sell sketches and signed copies of their books. You can’t even get a book signed from some creators unless you buy something from their booth, and nobody seems to grumble about that.
Secondly, sign your name a hundred times in a row. It’s simple work, but it’s work. You pay people for work.
Finally, if I’m getting somebody’s autograph, I’m buying something I intend to keep. Let’s be blunt here, a lot of adults at comic-cons aren’t getting these books signed out of joy. They’re getting them signed to try and flip them on eBay. When some entitled dick shows up with a stack of ten books, everybody knows what he’s going to do. Either you’re getting something you treasure, or you’re a damn mercenary; the former has value and the latter deserves no consideration.
I’m not for, say, Rob Liefeld charging twenty bucks an autograph or kids being turned down if they don’t have money. I think kids should get free autographs, really. And it should be up to the individual creator to do what they want to do; I think the charity jar is a great idea. But if we’re telling a creator that their work has value by wanting their signature on it, it’s fair for them to ask us to compensate them for that value. – Dan Seitz