by Nevs Coleman

No One Is Innocent: And We All Sign On!

If you hadn’t worked it out, this one’s about signings. As always, it’s a general look, rather than a series of hard and fast rules.

Things not to do:

1) Don’t Bring The Full Works Of The Artist With You:

Seriously. I guess if this column is meant to be about anything, it’s empathy. It’s the reason I take my glasses back to the bar after a night in the pub. I’ve been a barman. Try writing your name with a marker pen for two hours straight and see how much fun it is. You’re looking at people at crotch height and maybe the shop has taken you for lunch first. Maybe they’ve bought you a bag of crisps to share between the eight of you and set up a rule where creators don’t get food or drink unless they ask for it first. And then someone is holding a pile of each comic you’ve ever written. Okay, you figure, maybe they’re just a really big fan. You ask them if they want ’em personalised.

‘Nope.’

‘Why don’t I just make them out to eBay instead?’, you joke.

But they’re not laughing.

2) Sketches:

This is obviously going to change according to who you’re dealing with, but most artists will do you a sketch since you’ve gone to the trouble of showing up to their event. You’re probably all right with ‘Can I get a Joker or Spider-Man, please?’ There’s one guy who does an amazing line in drawing people as a zombie. Don’t take the piss. Walking up with an A1 page and asking for all of The Avengers taking on all of The X-Men is just going to be awkward. This can vary depending on how busy the signing is. If it’s quiet, they might be inclined to do a bit more than usual, if the queue is reaching to the end of the shop, maybe just be grateful for what you can get. The idea is that the creator is trying to see as many people as possible in a set amount of time. Some guys are willing to run over their allotted spot by a few hours, others want to get out of there the second their time is up.

Remember, you’re not paying for it, you don’t get to complain about it.

3) A Signing is not a Speaker’s Corner.

Okay, the whole thing is a chance for people to have a chat with creators they might not ever meet otherwise. A ‘Wow, man, your work really changed my life’ chance, or maybe people who hadn’t seen each other for a while get to hook up again. And you know, the probability is you’ll have a word about their new work.

Just don’t go mental, if you can help it. I don’t know why this would need saying, but if you don’t like their work, why would you show up? Is there nothing else you could do that day?

I’m not saying this for a laugh. I was working at a signing where some…slightly not right looking person showed up and the creator actually groaned as our new friend wandered to the table. After flinging one of his comics at the poor creator to be signed, he launched into a half hour rant about another creator, at the end of which he decided said absent creator probably was the actual Anti-Christ. Which was pretty ironic given who he was talking about.  This guy does this to everyone, I hear. Also of significance is the bloke who showed up at a signing to throw an art book at someone. And then blogged about it as if he was going to come off as a hero. File under ‘Making someone you hate look like the Good Guy!’

4) Play Fair.

It’s a small business, this. We all know each other. Most creators got into this because they’re big fan-boys and girls and will get a bit star-struck if certain people are doing a signing, and they queue up to have a word or talk business.
But when they’re not actually doing a signing, they don’t owe you anything. And by that, I mean, just because you happen to see Uncanny X-Men artist chatting to a staff member, they aren’t obliged to do you a sketch. They might if they’re nice people, but whining as if you deserved it just because you happened to be in the same place at the same time? Entitlement FAIL! If you were down the pub and chanced into a doctor, would you ask them for a quick check-up?

This is just an aside, but remember when Vince Mcmahon screwed Bret Hart in Montreal back in 1997?

What if the big guys had walked. If The Taker, Mick Foley, Kane, Austin, Rocky, Ken Shamrock etc. had the balls to say ‘THIS is enough! Now we go home.’ Would Mr McMahon benefited from a lesson in consequence?

I think, at the our worst moments, we forget how small our whole business is. How much we get angry and outraged about things that don’t matter. We spend money to get annoyed about fictional trademarks. One of the most remarkable moments of Nerdgasm was when the H.E.A.T group managed to raise thousands of dollars to get Ron Marz ousted from writing Green Lantern. Because DC told him to write the Emerald Twilight story that featured the transformation of Hal Jordan from hero to mass murderer.

Thousands of dollars.

There are people, right now, who have nothing. Whose stomachs ache with hunger. Who don’t know where they’re going to sleep or how they’re going to feed their children tomorrow. But we can raise money because we don’t like how a fictional character happens to be written? Does that embarrass you? That total lack of perspective on the world? Because it sure as hell makes me outright ashamed to be part of this business. I don’t have much in this world beyond a bed and some comics anymore, but I’m doing what I can.

So I am suggesting to you, each of you, that there will be another bunch of variant covers this week. Maybe a hilarious picture of Deadpool juxtaposed with a 70’s Marvel image or a bad Michael Turner knock-off artist of a witch or a fairy bending over with badly drawn tits? Maybe you could save that money. Wait a week and save the images onto your hard drive. They won’t go up in value anyway. You’re LYING TO YOURSELF IF YOU THINK THEY WILL.

Take the money you were going to spend and donate it towards the fine people at The Playtex Moonwalk, who are trying, ultimately, to make the world a bit better for everyone.

It’s just a thought.

I’ve been Nevs Coleman It’s been a laugh. My future writings can be found here.

If we don’t speak again, let me leave you with this.

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