I’d imagine that Marc Nathan is a pretty happy man. BALTIMORE COMICON was a busy show, by anyone’s standards. I took the time to walk around and check things out several times during the course of the two-day event, and the aisles were always full of people. PERSONALLY, I had an almost never ending stream of people coming to the booth I shared with Todd Dezago and Craig Rousseau. The BIGGEST and most consistent (as in never-ending) line that I saw was for Frank Cho. That man has become quite the comics superstar. Of course, I didn’t get around to see ALL the pros, so maybe someone had more folks in their line all the time, but I never saw it. The ODDEST thing I saw was the PENNY ARCADE guys who were right next to Frank, and had a booth that was huge in area. It must have been made up of about 6 tables….. and yet, they had almost no backdrop images of their web strip…. nothing to decorate or draw attention to their booth, which was pretty barren of fans most of the time, from what I could tell. They should really invest in some booth display stuff.
I arrived in Baltimore’s Penn Station at about 11:30 on Friday, and was picked up by the amazingly helpful Brad Tree. He was a real trooper taking care of guest needs all weekend– thanks, Brad…! When Brad dropped me off at the hotel, I took a little nap, and decided to try to work up some sketches to offer for sale BEFORE the show, so that I wouldn’t have to do commissions while at the booth. It’s become clear to me that trying to draw while signing books I’ve worked on has become almost impossible. ESPECIALLY as I continue to produce work, and people bring more of what I’ve done to have signed at shows. Some folks will have almost every comic I’ve ever worked on– and after something like 12 years drawing comics, that really adds up…! And so I got 5 pieces done, and also had some other sketches — and that allowed me to resist any sketching requests/commissions– for a while, anyway. I’ve long since stopped doing free head sketches for people at shows. I used to, years ago, spend all my time at shows doing free head sketches for people, and only making whatever money I might make during those shows by selling art pages from my published work. I thought it was a way of thanking people for buying my comics. But what started happening was that people who didn’t even KNOW MY WORK would be waiting in line, because it’s in the nature of people to get free stuff. People LOVE free stuff. That bothered me greatly. And in an effort to accommodate EVERYONE, I would whip out very quick, and often pretty BAD sketches. Many of these would end up on eBay for auction… which just made ME look bad. And so I stopped doing free head sketches. But in Baltimore, A.C.T.O.R., a non-profit organization set up to help retired and/or out of work comic book artists who need money for living expenses or emergencies, had asked all the guests to display their donation collection containers…. and to ask folks for donations when sketching or signing. And so, for the last few hours of each day of the show, I decided I’d do head sketches for people and ask them to donate to A.C.T.O.R.– which most did. There was one point when a group of teenage guys came up to get sketches and I asked them to donate– and I could hear the plink of just a couple of coins in the bucket. That was more than a little annoying. I felt like saying “C’MON, GUYS…. YOU CAN’T EVEN AFFORD ONE MEASLY DOLLAR….?”– but I kept my mouth shut. Then there were the couple of guys who, on the last day– after the announcement that the show was CLOSED– still stood there and wanted sketches… and these guys didn’t donate to the fund either. It’s people like this that cause me to act in a surly manner at these cons– which is not my real nature. But there’s something that people who expect free sketches have to understand: folks who draw comics for a living are doing it because they love it, yes– but it’s also their/our way of MAKING that living. To ask for– or expect– something for free from an artist is to absolutely devalue that artists work. Getting a comic signed is fine. I would never even THINK to charge for signing something. But the reasons above are a large part of why I have stopped doing free sketches at shows. I did it this time because it was for charity– but it reminded me like a slap in the face why I stopped doing it years back. I’ve come to the opinion that I don’t owe people sketches for buying my work. The COMIC ITSELF is what they paid for, and I don’t owe anyone anything else beyond that. It might sound hard– but it’s the truth.
But don’t get me wrong– over all, I had a great time. I got to see friends…. many of whom I ONLY see at these shows; got to eat some great food; and got to meet some wonderful fans– the vast majority of whom were kind and delightful folks. One of them– Devon Sanders– I would like to thank for sending me a scan of the WONDER WOMAN sketch that begins today’s blog. This is one of the sketches I did Friday when I got to Baltimore, and again, thanks to Devon for sending it to me.
OK– that’s it today.
This is entry 147.