Peter David and some of his friends and fans 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
this Bill of Rights at:
Last Tuesday, I shared my thoughts on the first part of that Bill
of Rights, which offered some smart rules for the getting/giving of
autographs. I realized I would need a huge sign to explain my own
rules in this area and that, for me, at least, such a sign wouldn’t
be practical. But I kept thinking about it.
When I’m signing at a convention or other event, I’ll only mention
my rules on what I will or won’t sign when they become pertinent to
a situation. If they do become pertinent, I’ll explain them in as
concise a manner as possible. If my rules should prevent one of my
readers from getting the autograph they want on the item they have
brought for a signature, I’ll make sure I can do something else for
them that will, hopefully, leave them with a cherished souvenir of
their brief meeting with “America’s most beloved comics writer and
columnist.” I’ll let you know how this works out.
Getting back to the Fan/Pro Bill of Rights...
Right the Second:
Fans have a right to wear and/or carry whatever they want to a
convention. But one fan’s right to personal expression ends at
another fan’s right to personal space.
Team Peter offers good common-sense rules of mutual respect here.
I especially liked the one about how being in a costume or wanting
to take a picture of someone in a costume doesn’t confer upon one
any special right-of-way. If you don’t want me to come between you
and whoever you want to snap a photo of, take your photos someplace
other than the aisle I have to traverse to get where I want or need
to be. Extra points to conventions that provide designated photo
areas for their cosplayers.
Additionally, though this doesn’t necessarily fall within the realm
of fan/pro relationships, exhibitors should not cause blockage of
aisles with their activities. In writing about the New York Comic
Con, I applauded DC Comics for designing their convention space in
such a manner that it never, at least on any of the many times that
I walked by it, obstructed traffic. Such care of design should be
mandatory for exhibitors.
Right the Third:
Pros have as much right to enjoy conventions as anyone else. Pros
are typically referred to as “guests” and even “guests of honor.”
If you treat guests in an insensitive manner, they will stop coming
to your house.
For the most part, these are more common-sense rights of courtesy.
Even when walking the convention floor, I try to accommodate fans
and their requests when I can. I discussed this in last Tuesday’s
Still, a “right to privacy” paragraph in this portion of the “bill
of rights does give me pause. If a pro, or a fan for that matter,
wishes to have a private conversation, I don’t think the convention
is where they should have it. Yes, it is a douche move for anyone
to spy or eavesdrop on such conversations, but you open a door if
you choose to converse where they can spy or eavesdrop on it. This
part of the bill is reasonable, but, let’s face it, we don’t live
in a reasonable world.
If I’m sitting in a bar and you wish to approach me, and if I don’t
have a comely Zatanna cosplayer sitting in my lap - just kidding,
Sainted Wife Barb - there’s no harm to approaching me and offering
me a drink by way of introduction. In my case, it’d be some sort
of soft drink. Too many comics pros and fans embarrass themselves
by drinking to excess. If I drink too much Pepsi, the worse thing
that will happen is frequent trips to the loo.
If I’m not in the mood for a conversation with someone I don’t know
or don’t know well, it’s up to me to convey that politely. Don’t
take offense. It’s not you, it’s me. Unless “you” is some online
troll who’s annoyed me in the past and the first words out of your
mouth are something other than, “Mr. Isabella, I want to apologize
for being such a dick.”
If, as yet another portion of this part of the bill addresses, I’m
eating at my convention table, you probably should be prepared for
my not being able to accommodate your request for an autograph at
that particular moment. On the other hand, whenever possible, I do
try to arrange my convention appearance so I don’t have to eat any
meals at my table.
A note for convention promoters: having trustworthy volunteers who
can watch a guest’s table while he attends to meals and any other
necessities earns you bonus points.
A note for pros: exercise reasonable caution in accepting any such
assistance. The convention probably hasn’t done background checks
on their volunteers.
When I wrote about this bill of rights last week, I commented that
the whole thing could be summed up as “Don’t be a dick.” The two
final rights in this section strike me as argumentative and, yes,
6) Authors are not your bitches (AKA The Neil Gaiman Assertion).
7) Actors are not your performing moneys (AKA The Misha Collins
Of course, authors and actors are neither bitches or performing
monkeys. But including those rights is overkill. Treating guests
as you would wish to be treated in their place has been covered in
some detail here. These two lines seem excessively in-your-face to
me. You know, like when some online troll seems determined to ask
you the same question over and over again until he gets the answer
he’s already decided he wants.
Crediting these assertions also strikes me as foolish. We live in
an imperfect world. I suspect some creep will see the lovely Neil
Gaiman or the doubtlessly equally lovely Misha Collins at a con and
think to himself or herself, “I’ll show them!”
I’ll discuss the rest of this admirable document in a near future
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella