Comic Art Buyer’s Guide
Comic books come and go. It is the nature of the industry that as interest ebbs and flows, so do the comic books which contain our favorite characters. Where a fan might be able to get Animal Man or Iron Fist comics one month, those characters may be out of vogue the very next month and might not show up again for a very long time. Still, what's a super fan to do if he or she really loves a character? Well, the simple solution would be to make that character's adventures a part of your life forever. Where comics may come and go, comic book art is forever. We wanted to help those attending San Diego Comic-Con (and other conventions this year) with their purchases this year by providing a handy buyer's guide for comic art.
Not everyone has a whole ton of disposable income these days, but some are still going to want to get a bit of art to hang on their walls. That is why the first thing up is prints. If you love a certain artist, like David Mack or Peter Nguyen, but can’t afford to purchase an original piece, or said artist only works in digital formats, your best option is prints. Often times prints will be done in limited runs and will cost anywhere between twenty and fifty bucks. The artists will throw their John Hancock’s on the thing and you will have a great piece to decorate your walls with.
Before you really get out and searching for that perfect piece of art, check out the list of artists who have set up shop in Artists' Alley. It's really easy to see if some of your favorite creators are going to be there, and what better source to get a piece of original art from than the person who made it in the first place? The artists are always happy to greet fans and talk about their work.
Know who inks your favorite books. Often times many of the interior pages end up in the hands of the inkers. Sure you won’t necessarily be getting the piece from the hand that drew it in the first place, but it is coming from someone very important in the process. The other great thing about hunting down inkers is they will often have a wide variety of pages from different creators. If you happen to love Ian Churchill’s art and look for him at the convention, you will likely come up short, but his inker Norm Rapmund normally has pieces.
There are a lot of comic art retailers at the convention from Blue Line Art to Albert Moy. These guys have been doing this for decades. Another source for variety and a place to get art by creators who aren’t at the con for various reasons, many of them actually have some artists exclusively. These retailers are always happy to help you find that perfect piece. Just remember though, you may pay a little more with one of these guys over an artist directly, since they have to bring in some profit.
Not every artist worth seeing is in Artists' Alley. Many of the more indie creators are chilling in the small press area. These guys may not be some of the most well-known artists in the game, but they often have great stuff at reasonable prices. Many of them are legends in their own ways. Shannon Wheeler (Too Much Coffee Man), Dan Parent (Archie) and Sergio Aragones (Groo) are often set up in the small press area with art for sale.
Always bring cash with you and stock up before the convention. Lots of artists and some venders will give you a break if you are paying in cash. This prevents them from having to pay extra fees on their end for the credit card use. It is also good to get your money before entering the convention center. There are ATMs but they charge a hefty fee.
There are all sorts of different types of pages to purchase. A basic interior page may get you the most bang for your buck. They are the most abundant in a comic, but also often have a lot going on. Splash pages (one big picture) are great, but they will cost a little more. The more time an artist spends on a page the pricier it will be. That then brings up the two page spread. These are cool wall hangings but again, they take up the time of two pages and cost more. Finally, covers are the most expensive. If you want a cover be prepared to shell out some dough.
Some artists aren’t going to have booths, but they will have a presence at the convention via signings at their publishers. They often bring pages for sale to these events, so check the publishers each and every day to see who their singings will be. They are almost always posted at the booths. Keep in mind, some of these signings are ticketed so you may not be able to get in.
If all else fails and you can’t get that special piece of art you are looking for, fear not! There's always the Internet. So many artists have some sort of net presence now that it is simple enough to find them online and ask to purchase art. If you go this way, don’t be surprised if they ask for a cashier’s check.
The hunt for art and other items can become all-consuming at big conventions. Don’t let it ruin your time. If you walk away with nothing but a smile on your face and a story to tell, then you have had a great comic-con experience. Don’t get too caught up in the insanity. Also, stay hydrated and fed. Thirsty, hungry people are cranky people.
For more San Diego Comic-Con Prep Week posts, click here.