The big show of the year in Toronto, Fan Expo Canada 2011, starts today. Last night I was scrambling around the house trying to get everything ready. My focus at shows the last few years is original art, sketches and getting collected editions signed.
I checked the guest list and then pulled all the books from my shelves that could get signed. Chris Claremont and Joe Kubert are the big names for me and I have a dozen books for each, plus another twenty or so for various other guests. I’ll lug them in via bags and leave them at a retailer friend of mine so I won’t hobble myself.
Getting books signed is a nice free way to enjoy the con, since you already own the books. This year the show seems writer heavy so I won’t be getting many quick sketches along with the signature but it’s fun to chat the creators up for a few minutes.
The big expense for me is getting sketches and original art from the visiting creators. Like most things in life set a budget and stick with it: I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something just a little more than I could afford, and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity! Unfortunately this happens at every creator table so it’s far too easy to over spend and end up eating Mr. Noodle for the next two months.
I sized up the guest list and then identified five artists I would like to get something from, priority being on those artists I haven’t seen before or don’t have anything from. At that point I do a lot of internet searching trying to identify how much the artists charge for sketches at shows and then see how many my budget allows for.
The other factor is getting your name on the artist’s list for a sketch. Most will get about twelve to twenty completed over the course of the con so if you’re number twenty-five on the list don’t expect anything. If you’re lucky you’ll land your name on at least three of your picks and go home with something. If all your picks are the big names you’re likely to be disappointed: don’t ignore the lesser known artists as they’ll usually charge less and you’ll end up with something wonderful.
If original art is your focus don’t forget to check out the inker’s tables: they have a lot of good pages and normally, but not always, charge less than the pencilers do.
Watch for Comic Book Daily’s extensive Fan Expo coverage!