The Case for Waiting in Line

Last weekend, at MorrisonCon I had the opportunity to chat with some of the most inspirational creators whom I regularly subscribe to. One interaction in particular left me feeling as though I had engaged in a conversation that wasn’t built around my love for their work, but rather a conversation between two lovers of the medium. During the chat we managed to cover why we latch on to certain books. More to the point, why the hell do we so emphatically pursue creators to sign our books?

Before every convention I usually prepare by packing 3-5 books by my favorite creators who I know will be at the convention, along with a few backups too for those-just-in-case-surprise-appearances. When I first started going to conventions, some 6 years ago now, I had in my mind the rationale of a collector. Thinking that someday, maybe these comics will be worth something, and having a signature on it will surely make it more valuable! ….Right? Probably.

But why? First of all, why would I want to sell a book that stood out enough to me to take the time to stand in line and get it signed? Some people attend these conventions and spend the majority of their time waiting in lines to buy things, or get things signed, just to turn around and sell these items straight away online. Perhaps I’m not the person to talk to about this, but it seems to me as though all that time spent waiting and waiting, just for a couple bucks in return, sort of negates the whole experience of the convention.

If your idea of Comic Con is nabbing up as many convention exclusives as you can, just so you can sell them at twice as much as you paid, you’re doing it wrong.

So are the people who buy these exclusives from you. I understand that not everyone has the opportunity, or the funds to attend a convention like SDCC, but buying any of these exclusive items shouldn’t be your solution. It’s like buying a band’s tour shirt when you didn’t actually go.

Don’t get dissuaded from a convention experience just because SDCC is out of your price range, or Geoff Johns won’t be at your local show. Conventions are spreading like wildfire; big names, and big publishers are making their presence known across the globe, not just San Diego, not just the U.S., not just North America, but across the globe. Internationally there are shows in Spain, Ireland, Singapore, Brazil, India, and Saudi Arabia, the list goes on. Just because some are bigger than others doesn’t mean they are better. You’ll often have a better chance of really getting to talk with like-minded people, (who just may happen to be a writer, or illustrator that you also admire) at smaller conventions anyways. The big shows become a waiting game, be it for signings, panels, or bars, there’s no way you can do bigger shows without sacrificing time, just do it for the right reasons.

Conventions are about meeting people, creators and fans, and recognizing how you fit into this wonderfully mad community. Some find inspiration at conventions, others find friends, and collaborators, others just love to keep ahead of everyone else by knowing what’s coming for GL, or the Avengers. These are the things that make SDCC worth saving up for every year. Not so you can whip out your exclusive 3 foot tall Galactus. That’s when it just becomes a pissing contest over “who got how much.” You shouldn’t let your material items define your convention going experience. Instead, come back with stories, experiences and the feeling of accomplishment through interaction.

This brings us to the second answer to the previous question of “why get comics signed.” The usual go-to for anyone is to bring a #1 issue that your favorite creator worked on. With all the reboots and re-numberings this is becoming much easier and a pretty standard norm for people bringing books to get signed. The logic behind this, at least for me, is that it shows the creator that I was willing to buy something just because their name was on it. I trusted that their name ensured a certain level of quality, so bringing this issue shows an understanding between us that I know, and appreciate their work, and am willing to take a bet that my $3 or $4 will be well spent.

Beyond bringing a #1 I have found myself bringing what seems to be random issues as well. Fantastic Four #605, All Star Superman #10, Casanova: Gula #4, Green Lantern #34. These issues are in no quantifiable way any better than any other within their stellar series, but for me, these issues in particular stood out because they spoke to me. Whether on a personal level, character level, or inspirational level, each of these issues holds a special place for me.

Bringing these issues to signings, even the bigger conventions gave me an opportunity to actually speak to the creators and let them know what it was about these issues that meant so much to me. For the most part I’ve found that speaking up about things like this means a great deal to these people. Profound discoveries aren’t usually being put out there on accident. These issues, scenes, and characters were all created for a reason.

When I talked to Frank Quitely about All Star Superman I told him why the series and the issue meant a lot to me. To get this issue in particular signed meant so much more to me, as I got to engage in something more than a 2 second signature with someone associated with one of my favorite comics. If you’re just bringing books to conventions to get signed that’s fine, but chances are you’ll be rewarded for going out on a limb by engaging creators. Being able to get Quitely’s signature was great, but getting the chance to speak to him as a fellow fan of comics was something I hope more fans get to experience with their idols.

Kahlil T. Schweitzer

The Case for Waiting in Line