Fan Expo 2010 Day One: Art and Hardcovers

Originally published at Comic Book Daily under my Bound Together column.

Fan Expo 2010 started today at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  The early bird package had a 2:00 PM entrance and there were hundreds lined up to get in: I’ve never seen a crowd that large buying a premium VIP three day show pass.  Media and vendor passes are a beautiful thing.  Art prices are continuing their dramatic increase while vintage hardcovers are scarce.

fan expo logo

My focus was artist alley and acquiring sketches from my favourite artists.  Paolo Rivera was set up and ready to go so I put my name down for a watercolor head sketch, $80.  We chatted about his pricing and size choice: he’s able to complete head shots in a reasonable time and feels $80 fits for the time committed to the piece.  A really nice guy; he was happy working for Marvel and  covers in general and wasn’t in a rush to get a creator owned work out.  I wandered by and spotted him working on my Namor head sketch: it looked stunning.

Next stop was my local favourite Michael Cho.  He had a two phase art attack: creating large painted works before the show averaging $450 and doing coloured headshots for $40.  Previously Michael had done smaller painted commissions before the show in the $100 range but he said the time dedicated to the smaller works creating unique poses and researching characters ended up taking the same time as a larger piece.  Plus requests for work kept coming in for larger pieces. He had a large variety of completed items from $100-$550 available; I committed to a Green Lantern piece that will be used on an upcoming DC collection, but I won’t be able to get it until after the cover is published.  Michael is working on some covers for DC in the near future and hopefully a series in the new year.  As well he’s diligently working on an indie graphic novel for future publication.  Looking forward to everything he can put out.

Darwyn Cooke unfortunately wasn’t doing any sketches this show but he did bring some previously completed works; they went quickly.  I grabbed a yellow 3/4 Power Girl piece for $400 as the full colour Power Girl head shot I had my eye on was snapped up by the customer ahead of me.  It was more than I wanted to part with but I hate to pass up getting a Cooke work.  Darwyn was happy his new Parker book The Outfit would be available in October but said the third book won’t be out until 2012; he has committed to four books in eight years and had completed two in two years.

I checked out Olivier Coipel but his prices had jumped since last year: $250 for a bust and $500 for a full figure.  Doug Mahnke was charging $250 for a head shot as well.  The days of the $100 sketch are coming to an end: for a nice work from a big name you have to be willing to spend $500 which means most of us will come home with one sketch if anything at all.  Chris Sprouse and Alex Maleev weren’t to be found: hope they make it for Saturday.  Anyone in business for themselves deserves to make the most profit they can and people seem to pay whatever artists are charging these days but we have to hit a ceiling soon.

In the collected edition department I was hoping to hit some decent discounts or discover some lost treasures but both eluded me so far.  I spotted 50% off Canadian cover price on trades and hardcovers at a few booths, along with 40% off U.S. price and a sliding scale below that around the convention.  There were a lot of books out there but most were clearance items from Marvel and DC that had been on deep discount from Diamond this year.

There were gems to be had: it just required digging.  I spotted a Hulk Future Imperfect Marvel Limited hardcover for $30 that’s easily a $100 eBay item.  Unfortunately Canadian shows rarely have old Fireside volumes or really anything more than a few years old: hardcovers are heavy and vendors don’t want to lug “maybe” items to a show.