By Beau Smith

In the last 20 years I’ve been to a ton of comic book conventions. I’ve been there as a reader, a fan, a media reporter, a publisher, and a comic book creator. I’ve been down on my knees shufflin’ through the ol’ comic boxes lookin’ for that prized issue of Star Spangled War. I’ve been crammed in the back of the booth thowin’ down a quick lunch of high calories and drinkin’ high octane ounces of carbonated sugar water that we call soda pop. I’ve also done my part on the front lines. Sittin’ and talkin’ to the fans and readers about some of the comic books that I’ve been lucky enough to write. Why sometimes they even ask me to sign em’. I gotta say, talkin’ and signin’ comics for the readers is one of my favorite parts of this job.

Without soundin’ corny – I figure it’s my privlige to sign those comic books that they’ve chunked down hard earned money for. After all, it’s what keeps me in beer and corn dogs. It wasn’t that long ago that I was on the other side of the table. I’ve met some of the nicest folks in the business that way. Ones that took the time to share some of their thoughts on comics, writing, art, and the industry that I wanted to be a part of. Most all those good guys are very good friends to this day.

It’s those same creators that I learned from. They showed me how you should treat the reader and fans–the ones really payin’ your check.

I feel that by givin’ the readers, fans and those tryin’ to break into this crazy buisness, any tip I can that will help em’ out, well? that’s my way of payin’ back all those that helped me. It’s the least I can do.

Of course… my autograph is worth three beers!

The least? that brings up another topic. Like I said, I’ve been to a ton of conventions in my time. I’ve seen the best. I’ve seen the worst. Lucky for us the best outnumbers the worst – for now.

In the last few years I’ve seen some real bulging egos sittin’ behind that signin’ table. All festered up with self-importance and just waitin’ for the chance to spew some of it on the first fan that walks up to the table. I’ve seen em’ in all career sizes. From the biggest and best sellin’ names in the industry to the ones that can count their print run on one hand. It don’t matter. They all think that roses sprout from both ends. Sorry, pal, but that garden of ME has got a few weeds that need yankin’.

I’ve seen the bitter, the bad, and the bullies.

The bitter whine about how someone else is gettin’ all the money and attention that they deserve. How some young upstart scurried through the industry in the middle of the night and stole his scepter and crown. Well, this bulb-headed joker has never stopped to think that maybe he just might have lost touch with the readers. He figured he was the only one good enough to ride on the bus so he threw everyone else under it–thump-thump!

In reality they readers figured out that they were gettin’ charged too much ego per gallon and traded the old model in for one that treated them a little better and was more efficient.

The bad are the ones that see themselves as the king/queen of all they survey and that the readers are nothin’ more than slaves comin’ to worship at the alter of “Keep That Spotlight On Me.” They’re the ones that’ll charge ya for an autograph. They’re the ones that’ll gripe at the way you lay your comic down or get pissed off when ya expect em’ to say “Hello” or “Thanks for reading my book.” Yeah, they’re real beauties. Most the time they’re too busy talkin’ to one of their flunkies that’s doin’ the yes-man routine to beat the band. A lot of times they won’t even look up at ya while they’re signin’ that unreadable scribble they call a signature. Nope. They’re too busy thinkin’ about tonight’s episode of Real World or wishin’ they could be a member of the opposite sex? My advice? give em’ a little gastronomical atmosphere and let em’ inhale an odor that has a special kinship to their own breath.

Then ya got the bullies. The ones that get their joy juice from tyin’ fans to the verbal whippin’ post and crackin’ an acid tongue on em’. They got that “I made it and you haven’t” kinda attitude that makes ya wanna go back in time and and start a shoe factory in the butts of his or her ancestors. What they don’t want ya to know is that they’re all promise and no deliver. While you’re out havin’ a real life, they’re sittin’ at home tryin’ to memorize Dr. Who dialogue or somethin’ even more perverse. I wouldn’t let these guys sign my bad checks.

It don’t matter if they’re some old guy wearin’ an ill fittin’ t-shirt with a bad pair of polyester pants or one of the young grunge-surfer-manga- mega- egos that thinks that there is just one coast. There are always gonna be a few bad meals on the ol’ comic convention menu. Ya just gotta learn to stay away from em’. That way they can’t throw up their bad egos all over ya.

I don’t mean to sound all negative. There are a boatload of good guys out there that are more than happy to meet ya, greet ya, and talk on an equal table to ya. Those are the ones that you should support and learn from. The others? well, just write down their names and give em’ to me at the next convention. I’ll see that my cousins Billy-Beau and Jimmy-Beau-Bob come visit with em’. Maybe they’ll give em’ that loooong tractor ride. And after that ya just call em’ Fifi.

The good guys… Beau, Dwayne Turner, Chuck Dixon, and the incredible Flint Henry!

I hope that ya have a great run of conventions this summer. If ya see me buy me a cold one.

Or better yet, just give me the money.

Did ya think a big-time comic book star like me would be seen with a nobody like you? Dream on, fanboy.

“Hey, McFarlane! You got my boots shined yet?”
“Somebody have Jim Lee wash my car.”
” And tell Eva Mendes to quit stalkin’ me!”

Yours by the fistful,
Beau Smith

Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!

About The Author

Beau Smith

Beau Smith is a writer for Comics Bulletin