Writer Wars Round 3: Convention Costs by Chris Mixer
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Budgeting for a comic book convention can be complicated, especially if you want to purchase original art or get a lot of books signed. Many attendees simply don’t know what artists will charge, or the total cost of getting a signature certified by a third-party like CGC. Thankfully, collectors have started sharing a lot more information online that helps others know what to expect.
Mickey Mantle was charging $18 for his autograph at a New Orleans convention in 1989. Stan Lee was only charging $15 for his autograph at conventions in 2004. Times have changed, and top-tier talent is able to charge more nowadays. When I attended SC Comicon in March, Neal Adams was charging $50 per signature (unless the item was purchased at his booth). That would have been good information to know in advance.
To help you plan for your next convention, here are some actual commission costs recently reported online:
- Sal Buscema – a 9×12 full body = $300.
- Aaron Lopresti – a 9×12 full body = $200.
- Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez – a 9×12 bust = $250.
- Mike Zeck & John Beatty – a 9×12 pencil & inked bust = $350.
- Bob McLeod – two full body characters fighting = $500.
Most artists nowadays have a menu of prices based on the complexity of the requested work. For example, Mark Bagley only charges $100 for a head sketch, but charges $300 for a full body commission.
Here are other examples from the past year (prices always subject to change):
Rags Morales –
- Headshots: $200
- Half Body: $250
- Full Body w/ Background: $300
Robson Rocha (HeroesCon 2018) –
- Headshots: $80
- Half Body: $230
- Full Figure: $350
Keith Giffen (HeroesCon 2018) –
- Headshots: $100
- Half Body: $200
- Full Figure: $300
Matteo Scalera (HeroesCon 2018) –
- Bust: $250
- Full Figure: $500
- 2 Characters or Color: $900
Mark Texeira (DragonCon 2018) –
- Headshots (11×17 watercolor): $220
- Torso (11×17 watercolor): $490
- Full Figure (11×17 watercolor): $540
Graham Nolan (SC Comicon 2019) –
- Headshots: $120
- Torso: $180
- Full Figure: $220
Greg Land (SC Comicon 2019) –
- 8.5×11: $300
- 11×17: $500
- Blank sketch covers: $300
Artists have been better about posting their commission rates prominently at their table. This is additionally beneficial for creators who have multiple price-options like Rob Liefeld, where an autograph can cost anywhere between $40-200 depending on grading and inscription fees. J Scott Campbell offers one signature free, but a second book will cost you $20 plus an additional $30 if being graded by CGC.
Comic book conventions are more fun when you know what to expect. With the rise of social media, we have the ability to share and prepare better than ever before. Let’s network together. Please comment below if you know a creator’s recent rates, and share your knowledge with our comic family. Happy collecting!