I read with interest and sympathy last week the report that popular comic-book artist Adam Hughes would no longer do commissioned sketches at comics conventions anymore after being frustrated time and time again to see the artwork he’d thought he’d created for fans sold online for several times more than what he charged for the sketch in the first place. While being told he was fulfilling a fan’s dream, he was really engaging in work for hire. His disgust with repeated deceptions is completely understandable, and it’s a shame that opportunists — who clearly know what they’re doing is shady — have ruined things for others.
I’m not only a big fan of comics, but I collect original comic art too, and I’ve got a great little collection of sketches in a small sketchbook I bring to cons (on the rare occasion I can get to one). Many artists do what Hughes has done in the past, doing sketches for a short list of fans who pre-pay. I’ve never availed myself of such services. I don’t begrudge artists the decision to charge for con sketches (especially when such paid commissions are usually fairly detailed); after all, many comics professionals are shelling out money from their own wallets for display space at these events, and selling sketches (along with limited edition sketchbooks, original art and other merchandise) is a good way to recoup such expenditures. I’ve just decided to direct my financial resources and time at cons in different directions. Whenever I’ve gone to cons, I’ve been on a budget (travel has always been involved), and I wasn’t keen on leaving my sketchbook with an artist for a day or more at a convention. Like I said, it’s a small sketchbook, and I don’t like having it tied up with just one or two artists for the entire event.