By Will Henderson
From prints and buttons to the original cover art for Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon
Issue #88, theft was rampant at NYCC, according to creators.
Larsen tweeted about the theft before the convention was over, first an image of the
published cover, and then a series of tweets about the person he believes stole it. Larsen bought the cover with him to sell at NYCC, but later the person came up to him asking to get it signed, a truly brazen crime.
Larsen encouraged anyone with information, either about the person who stole it or when (and if) the person tries to sell it, to come forward. Larsen also tweeted what he remembered of the incident and the man he believes stole the cover art.
“He was a somewhat swarthy male with short hair and a thick full beard,” Larsen
said. “He was not an individual I had seen before, but he was standing there so
long I would immediately recognize him if I saw him again.”
Larsen added that there was no chance he had sold the piece of art, which he had
priced at $2,000, because the cover was the only Savage Dragon cover he had with
him, and he would have remembered a $2,000 sale.
The man, tweeted Larsen, had purchased a commission from him, and while picking
up the commission, asked him to sign the page in question. According to Larsen, the
two argued over whether or not the man had paid for the cover art, and then the
“It was a very odd exchange,” Larsen tweeted. “It made me think maybe he’d bought
it from a third party because of his protests – but the timing is pretty suspect as
someone would have had to have stolen it from me and immediately flipped it.” Other creators, including Rob Liefeld, Gail Simone, and Walt Simonson, were also victims of theft and turned to Twitter asking for help tracking down stolen art.
One of Larsen’s Twitter followers asked him if “this kind of thing happen often at
cons,” to which Larsen replied, “not to me.”“It does happen, though – and in some cases thieves make off with quite a few pages – talking portfolios from art dealers and such,” Larsen replied.
And happen it did. Sadly in recent years, NYCC has become known as a con where theft is not uncommon, with art and stolen phones and more. Its a call for caution, especially in the frantic artist alley, where it’s crowded and scams can be pulled.
Artist Alison Sampson reported losing “a bunch of prints.” Blogger and fashion designer Tony B. Kim reported someone walking off with a custom Black Panther Car Coat, tweeting: “Cool enough to steal off the rack. Thanks for nothing NYCC jerk.”
Artist Yoshi Yoshitani described realizing on Sunday that people had stolen merch from
her table. “I have postcards and books and pins people can read [and] look at, and they’ve been just walking with stuff,” tweeted Yoshitani. “I’m just… really disappointed.”
Caitlin Reynolds, who works as artist Barry Kitson’s assistant, reported having a one-of-a-kind tote bag stolen. This bag, made to look like an old-school library check-out slip, had been signed by several artists, including Neal Adams, Joe Jusko, Arthur Adams,
Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jim Lee, and also had on it what appears to be a sketch of
Wolverine, also by Lee.
Several of her friends turned to Twitter, posting images of the bag and asking for
help tracking it down. Reynolds reported the bag “disappeared from my purse… while behind a booth at NYCC,” on Saturday.
Several creators described being conned by a woman asking for donations for “The
Day of the Youth,” and “demanding free stuff from folks and/or outright stealing
things off of tables,” said artist Jen Bartel.
“She got me,” Bartel tweeted. “I guess keep an eye out at NY shows.”
Larry Hama, comics legend, in talking about the theft at NYCC, said that theft happens at a lot of conventions, not just at NYCC, but that NYCC specifically has a big problem.
In an FB post, editor Renee Witterstaetter noted that her phone has been stolen off her table.
As for Larsen, he remains hopeful that his original Savage Dragon art will be
returned to him, but he also knows that stolen pages are often lost forever.
“Every Steve Ditko original is circulation was stolen (unless inked by somebody
else,” Larsen tweeted. “Ditko never sold any of his original art.”
While theft can happen anywhere any time, the rampant nature of it at NYCC behooves everyone to be especially cautious and perhaps bring booth minders to help keep an eye on valuables.
The Elite Beat Staff is a trained squad of ninja masters.