Friday, August 21, 2009

Bill? I didn't expect to get it from you!?!

The Comic-con never disappoints even this year where I was working the other side of the table. It surprised me that sitting still for most of the con you see almost as much if you spend the whole time walking around. Just a different type of entertainment.

From meeting Jorge Garcia, (Lost's "Hurley"), to being nearly ripped off by Bill Sienkiewicz's agent, to shaking the hand of Dick Clark, (one of the four original creators of the San Diego Comic-con), my dream getaway wasn't going to disappoint.

I spent the majority of the trip promoting our animation company and by talking to passers by selling my product "Cardcitures". (A phrase I hopefully coined, but if not, oh well. There goes another one. . .) These are characters of comic-con visitors, drawn on the spot, onto card size canvases. They sold like wild fire and I'm bringing them back next year for sure.

Then there was Bill. An artist whose work I've admired since I remember comics. Him and his agent Eric ______. Now don't get me wrong, we're all starving artists, but I doubt Bill and his manager are losing sleep over the bait and switch they tried to pull on me.

Here's a book and art Bill's known for:

"Hi Eric. How's Bill doing today."

"He's doin' fine. Thanks for stopping by. Is there something I can get for you?"

At this point I'm thinking this is where I would like to spend a little to have an original piece from this comic great. Little did I understand that this relationship would affect the way I view one of the greats in about a day.

I ask Eric for pricing on original art and he quotes me $100, $200, and $300 dollar art. Because I don't want to spend all my Comic-con money, that and I need to eat in about 45, I settle on the $100 art. Knowing this wasn't going to be a mural I thought it was worth it.

I pay cash on the spot and meet Bill. He was nice. He was approachable. He was getting ready to leave for the day. I make my request be known and we all agree this was a great idea. Sleep was about to change someone's mind. . .

After returning multiple times to Bill's booth the next day, (which was facing the back wall of the convention center), I was met by Eric. Eric had news for me. "Bill has a habit of getting into his drawings and so I think the original sketch is going to cost $200."

My eyes rolled. I really would love an original, but $200? There goes burgers at Hard Rock and dinner at Little Italy.

"Okay, I'll get you $175 by tomorrow, but I'm hoping it's a great drawing." Eric looked uninterested in my financial disposition. For all I knew he was going to pocket a $100 and give the rest to Bill. Reluctant to pay, I returned the next day and decided to stand my ground.

"I think all I want is the $100 dollar sketch please."

"No no no no. I'm sorry. Yeah, we can do that. That's fine. It won't be much. Like a a head and shoulders but that's it. We really would like to get you something nice, but you won't get it for $100. Plus Bill is a busy guy and I'm carving out of his schedule to do your drawing. He's a very very busy guy."

All I can think is, "busy enough to come to the comic-con and sell sketches. THAT busy eh?", but I didn't want to put it past the agent. He was only trying to pull the ol' bait and switch which, in my eyes, leaves no room for respect.

"Come back tomorrow, he'll have your sketch for you."

Since I was planning on leaving the next day I explained I would have a close friend come with the receipt and ship the art home for me. They agreed and I was off. Was this going to come true? Was I finally going to get the original I've been craving? Was the drawing going to suck after all the debating and appear insincere and heartless? Sunday would tell . . .

"$300. Bill got into it and didn't really stop, and now it's a $300 dollar sketch."

Now I'm pitchering this business guy trying to rape my wallet. Paul calls me over the phone and is kind enough to extricate my original $100, sans drawing, I was quoted for getting at that amount. He also saw the drawing and said it didn't look that great to him and it actually wasn't worth $50, let alone $300. Being a good friend I take Paul's word, sadly re-take my $100 and walk away.

This really killed my first impression experience and has tainted any connection I will have with the artist, be it in comic, or in person.

Bill, if you read this, what you did was shitty business practice and I warn all of you who want an original Bill Sienkiewicz piece: There is a whole lot of red tape made by Eric the agent you'll have to go around. Unless you're ready to dump $300 dollars for a simple / mediocre original sketch, save your money and invest in someone who wants to take care of their fans. Also, I recommend don't deal with anyone else other than the artist when it comes to their art. That's what makes the Comic-con incredible. Getting to meet people you only read about and prove they actually exist eye to eye.

All in all my experience at the con has got me excited for next year. I made some friends, made some fans, and made some great connections. Next year there will hopefully be a signing for "Clipstick" at the Ape booth, and if the time allows, perhaps greater things, like hiring an agent stuffer.


Here's a link to the latest animations I worked on and Directed for PPL energy plus. Thank you to Alex Bell, Paul Linsley, and Andreas Peterson for your help on these as we had a blast and are looking forward to the next big animation project!