20Cf 1When it comes to cartoonists, Stan Sakai is the gold standard. Not only is he one of the nicest people you will ever meet, he’s also one of the most talented. His 20-year-long epic Usagi Yojimbo has quietly become one of the greatest single works in recent comics history. So why is some sh*thead ripping him off? Stan reports he just got back from Motor City Con where he had a great time and did free sketches for the fans, a sadly rapidly vanishing practice due to the prevalence of people turning around and selling these free sketches on eBay. This time, the sketch-seller went above and beyond, however, going so far as to ALTER the sketch to remove the personalization.

Here’s a link to one of my drawings from the Motor City Con, with a BIN option of $45.99 plus $7.99 for mailing the sheet of typing paper:

Except it is not completely my drawing. Someone (the seller I presume) has drastically altered the art , using a broad marker to darken the border and drawing some grass to obliterate the personalization. Drawings usually fetch a higher price if they are not personalized to someone. I assume it is the seller that did the alterations, because he is selling a piece by another artist with the drawing drastically cropped to leave out the personalization. I don’t know if it technically it is counterfeit, but it certainly is fraud.

Most cartoonists will not do these free drawings anymore because of dealers reselling them. I think I will have to join this majority.

[link added for clarity.]

Sketching at shows has become much more controversial in the eBay era, and while we can see both sides of it a little, the bottom line is that artists don’t have to give ANYTHING away, and sitting at a table sketching all day isn’t that different from being at work, so if someone is going to profit, it might as well be the artist.

Thanks a lot, Mr. Comicman182, for ruining it for the vanishing breed of people who are just trying to be nice guys and just give something back to their fans. We expect this auction to be taken down very very soon.


  1. Hmmm…

    Ran into the same problem myself several years ago and it caused me to stop doing drawings of any kind (except in personalized books). I used to love giving something back to, after all, the very people that allow me to draw all day long for a living. That is, until one such ‘fan’ ,when confronted about his immediate selling of my free sketch, commented, ” I don’t even like your art. I was just getting the sketch so that I could sell it and make enough cash to buy one by an artist I do like.” Sorta blasted away all the fun from the process.


  2. I can’t even begin to tell you how much these scumbags piss me off. As a sketch collector myself, these folks make it just that much harder for me to get a sketch from somebody. I’ve got two sketches by Stan in my collection, both of them I got in person and I love deeply. I would never sell my sketches, and I generally don’t buy sketches except from the original artists.

    And Jamie, yeah. Sergio doesn’t do sketches anymore, he told me when I asked for one. But he did do a “leetle drawing” in my book for me. I love it dearly.

    Charles, if I ever meet you in person I’ll show you my Aquaman sketchbook. It often brings the fun back into it for people. My husband’s themed sketchbook also gets rave reviews. And at the last Emerald City Comicon we started a Doctor Who sketchbook just for the heck of it. I’ve got some truly lovely pieces that I would never sell.

  3. When I collect sketches, I try to get self portraits, since the artists rarely draw them.
    Of course, these are added to my archives, with all the other stuff I’ll never sell. As for eBay, the only artist I follow, Phil Foglio, has his own store.

  4. Another option is to offer the sketch free with the purchase of a book, with the sketch inside; $10 if done in a sketchbook; $20 or more (or don’t do them at all) for a paper sketch.
    Heh… what prevents an artist from contacting the bidders on eBay and sending them a free sketch?

  5. Stan and Sergio are probably the two nicest people in comics and it absolutely kills me to see them treated so poorly. (And eBay sales of their free drawings are the LEAST grevious of the crimes committed against these creators; you should hear about some of the literal thefts that have occurred from their con tables.)

    Unfortunately, this ain’t a new practice, Heidi, just a new spin on an old scam. Mark Evanier once told me about how, back in the early 1970s, a fanboy begged Jack Kirby for a sketch of Odin. Being the great guy he was, Jack complied and handed over a nice little drawing of Asgard’s big daddy. Literally seconds later, quite loudly and within earshot of Jack, the weaselly little shit began auctioning off the Odinsketch!

    I still do free convention sketches, but I’ve got a caveat that seems to work. I advertise this by posting a sign on my con table that reads: “Complimentary sketches for kids twelve and under”. You’d be amazed how the absence of the word “free” eliminates the throngs of fans who would ask for a free drawing from ANY artist, as long as they don’t have to pay for it. (I call this the “Buttermilk Principle”, due to the long lines of people I’ve seen, at the dairy pavillions of various county fairs, standing in the hot sun for a free thimblefull of fresh buttermilk, a beverage that most people openly detest.) Most of these young kids are delighted to receive a sketch of a cartoon character they know and love; they really don’t have the slightest sense of whether or not the drawing is actually worth anything. Some of ’em fold up my drawings and cram ’em into their pocket; others proudly tell me that they’re gonna color my b&w sketch when they get home. That’s fine with me. Little kids feel incredibly frustrated when they find out how expensive EVERYTHING is at a comic convention — most of ’em have no real concept of what a “collector’s item” is (Pokemon cards aside) — and it’s kinda gratifying to give them something, chat a bit, and know that you improved their experience a teensy-tiny bit.

    I’ve even had full-grown, adult doofuses inquire, “How much for the complimentary drawings?”



  6. I used to do free sketches at shows. As many of you have stated it’s fun to interact and do sketches for people who appreciate your work. That being said. A few years back I started to get emails telling me my free sketches were being sold on ebay and being traded. On one level I see it as a gift and in the same way I wouldn’t be hurt if someone sold the X-Mas gift I gave them I don’t mind that they sell my drawing. On another level it feels like it corrupts the original intent of the drawing.

    In order to preserve the intention of the sketch, I do free sketches for little kids (Power Rangers and Spiderman mostly) and I ask that the older folks buy a comic or a sketchbook from me and I do them a “free” sketch. It works pretty well. Most people seem happy to buy something in exchange for an original drawing. This seems to sort out the sketch pimps from the actual people who enjoy my work.


  7. Thank you for the support, everybody. I don’t like those guys who resell free sketches on e-bay, but I’ve been tolerating that for years. What I really objected to was this guy marking up the artwork, then trying to pass it off as completely mine.

    We’re still trying to figure out how to handle this e-bay thing. Having someone buy something in exchange for a sketch is a good idea.

    By the way, that other artist I mentioned–the one whose art that guy cropped–is Sergio.

  8. Yes, this is a severe disservice to the artists who worl for hours at these cons doing things for their “fans”. I do not have a sketchbook currently, but i have been lucky to get some creators to draw art for me and my family, some really great stuff, thins i wouldn’t dream of selling on ebay.

    Resellers such as this will make it impossible to ever find creators who will be willing to do the free sketch anymore, though i have no problem buying something in return.

  9. These people put the word “CON” in comicon.

    Selling free sketches is downright RUDE. Its a shame because I love collecting sketches and I don’t have a lot of money (or a job). So free sketches are perfect for me. It’s a shame that great artists will be forced to stop this practice because of a few jerk-faces. I’m also the type of guy that asks for the sketch to be personalized because it makes me feel special.

    I think its cool when an artist that charges for sketches will still do something really small for free for me. An example would be the superman symbol or like the comedian’s button (Watchmen). Its neat and I really appreciate it.

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