[People lining up at last year’s SPX.]
Sean Gordon Murphy, a creator no stranger to speaking his mind, has offered a Creators Rights at Conventions , which includes lots of positive stories, but also some rules that suggest some not to great experiences. The rules are pretty common sense: creators as guests shouldn’t be expected to work for free and hectic schedules, and travel assistance should be offered, along with adequate hotels and some downtime to socialize with friends. Simple, yes. And definitely guidelines to be added to the playbook of any nascent con-runners, of whom there seem to be more and more. I’m not privy to any recent horror stories, but I’d suggest to any one putting on any kind of Comic-Con that what’s sauce for the Shatner is sauce for the comics guest. Comics guests usually don’t have riders for jelly beans and that kind of thing, but they shouldn’t be left entirely adrift at the airport either.
I think the free work thing is more complex, at least as far as foreign shows go. In Europe, it’s expected that guests will sketch for two or three hours at a stretch, and not little doodles, but detailed beautiful sketches. It’s a practice that has begun to wear on some creators, especially when the drawings go right up on ebay. At least one French show has officially changed its policy.
At any rate, it’s good to get these ideas out there, just in case anyone didn’t know any better. Although in that case, they shouldn’t be putting on a big event with multiple moving parts.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.