Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Peter David and the fine folks who frequent his
have crafted a “Fan/Pro Bill of Rights” to address various issues
in the sometimes contentious relationships between fans and pros.
You can download a PDF of the Bill of Rights at:

This is my third and probably final commentary on this thoughtful
bill of rights.  However, ten years from now, when you’re thinking
how much you loved these bloggy things, I plan to remake them with
updated special effects and other changes.  My friend Peter will,
of course, be computer-generated in the revised blogs.

Right the Fourth

Fans and Pros have the right to enjoy panels.

Once again, these are common-sense “rules” for convention panels.
Filming and recording permitted unless the con or the guests state
otherwise in no uncertain terms.  If you’re in the front row, don’t
fall asleep and snore loudly.  Knowing some of the snorers I know,
I’d extend that to any row.

Turn off your cell phone ringer during the panel.  Be succinct in
asking and answering questions.  Remember it’s a Q&A thing and not
a debate.  Because if it was a debate, Peter would win. 

The bill of rights says audiences have the right to boo if someone
tries to flirt or hit on a panel member.  I’m not sure about that.
However, I think such flirting and hitting on should not be part of
any panel whose title doesn’t include the phrase “dating game” and
should not be done by any of the people attending the panel or on
the panel.  Keep it in your storm trooper costume.

Don’t be a dick and ask a knowingly provocative question to get a
rise out of a panelist.  However, the panelist’s response should be
something along the lines of “I’m not going to discuss this in this
venue.”  If the question is asked innocently, then the fan should
make a quick apology on realizing that he or see has erred and the
panelist should accept it gracefully.

This section has a paragraph about geeky questions and how actors
should be expected to know the answers as if they were, indeed, the
characters they play.  Agreed.  But, on the other hand, why not be
prepared for such questions with a clever quip that will have the
audience saying, “Wow! Tommy Thespian is really a funny guy.  I’m
going to see all his movies!”

Pros should answer questions honestly or decline to answer them if
they think the answers will be inflammatory.  Yes, they have every
right to be provocative.  First Amendment and all.  But, as Peter
and his crew state, the pros who choose to do this have to accept
the consequences without whining.

This section also raises the question of children at panels.  It’s
tricky and parents have to be, well, parents.  If your child is a
disruption, you should leave.  If you don’t want your kid to hear
Walter Writer utter a string of profanities, don’t bring your kid
to Walter’s panel.  However...

Would it hurt panelists to be a little more temperate if they see
kids in the audience?  Unless you have Tourette syndrome, you can
exercise a modicum of restraint.   

Right the Fifth

Convention-related rights stem from solid organization, and
therefore convention organizers have certain expectations that they
should meet.

If you click on the PDF link above, you know these are more common
sense rules.  Getting checked in quickly and efficiently is always
a great thing.  Having an information booth to answer questions of
fans and pros is also wonderful.

Pro and fan badges alike should have a large enough space so names
can be clearly printed and read.  I meet thousands of fans and pros
at conventions and I’m not as good at remembering faces as I used
to be.  Help a newly-minted senior citizen out, okay?

Convention organizers should be clear on what support they are able
to provide for a guest.  I generally ask for hotel/travel expenses
and a table or two.  I don’t like being restricted to selling just
things I have worked on.  Often, it’s selling the other stuff that
pays my expenses and pays for the time I’m losing because I’m not
at home working.

A big “yes” for the paragraph about the responsibility of the con
to provide access for people in wheelchairs.  I was appalled at how
little the New York Comic Con provided for this, though, to be fair
about it, most of the problems I saw were due to fans being equal
parts rude and clueless.

As someone who was involved with Mid-Ohio-Con for a couple decades,
I’m appreciative of fan volunteers.  But the convention must always
be sure of those fans given positions of authority or working any
kind of security.  A good crew chief will, over time, weed out any

For those volunteers cosplaying as Klingons or storm troopers, you
need to be ready to drop your character whenever you deal with any
real-world situations.  Bony forehead or helmet, you need to deal
with those situations as yourself.

That’s what I got, save to express my admiration for what Peter and
friends have crafted.  Even if you don’t agree with everything in
their Fan/Pro Bill of Rights, you should be grateful for the effort
that went into it.  At the very least, it’s a great start to what
should be an ongoing conversation.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. The link to the PDF isn't working. If I cut-and-paste into my browser, it takes me to the website and, by scrolling down, I can find a link to the bill of rights.

    If I can figure out how to fix it, I'll do so. In the meantime, I apologize for the inconvenience.

  2. Nice one, Tony. I agree with most of your points. (I do like provocative queries, tho, even if I never ask them myself. As long as they're truthful, I say go for it.)

    Missing from the list is the biggest "pro" pet peeve of all panels for me: PLEASE TALK INTO THE MICROPHONE. I know we're raised to look at those we're talking to, but even if you're responding to the guest next to you and want to look at him/her, TALK INTO THE MICROPHONE.

    Pretend you're on radio--put it close to your sound hole. Eat it if you have to. Those panel rooms can get very large and people beyond the first four rows would like to hear what you say. If it's too loud, we'll let you know by covering our ears--but if it's too soft, people think it's impolite to say anything.

    Thanks! (And happy ho'days to you and yours.)

    Mike Pascale

  3. Oh, and just to clarify--the above doesn't apply to you personally! I was using the "royal you". Or "general you." (Not to be confused with General Yu, who fought with Shang Chi...)