Tuesday, December 6, 2011


My friend Peter David, in union with the fans and pros who frequent
his www.peterdavid.net, has crafted a thoughtful “Fan/Pro Bill of
Rights” to address an assortment of issues in the often contentious
relationship between fans and pros.  I’d probably reduce the whole
mutual rights thing to “Don’t be a jerk,” but Peter and his friends
have put so much work into this document that I’d be, well, a real
jerk to do that.  So I won’t.

The document’s prime directive reads:

Fans and Pros have the right to be treated by each other with the
same courtesy that they themselves would expect to be treated. Fans
and pros who act like jerks abrogate the right to complain when
they themselves are treated like jerks.

That’s a compact and generally attainable goal.  I’m taking it to
heart and will keep it in mind going forward. 

What follows the opening statement is five proclamations of rights.
I’m only going to discuss the first one today, but, over the next
few weeks, I’ll get to them all and maybe add a few more of my own.

Right the First:

Fans and Pros have a right to a mutual understanding of what is
expected and required from each when it comes to the giving and
receiving of autographs.

Here’s what you can expect from me:

I will sign anything I’ve written.  However, if you ask me to sign
Ghost Rider #19 [August, 1976], you’ll have to listen to my usual
rant about how an arrogant assistant editor took it upon himself to
complete change the end of my two-years-in-the-making story.  I’ve
been explaining this absurd shift in direction to readers offended
by the absurd shift in direction for decades and I expect I’ll be
doing it for as many years as I have left.

I will not sign Black Lightning Year One.  It is an abomination in
my eyes.  I didn’t write it.  The editor was ordered not to hire me
to write it.  I have not read it and will likely never read it.  It
is an unclean thing and I shun it completely.

I will sign Black Lightning merchandise (action figures, clothing,
etc.) even when DC Comics has failed to honor their agreements to
compensate me for such things.  It’s not your fault DC has chosen
to screw me over.

I’ll sign your autograph books, original art from stories I wrote,
and comics histories that mention me.  However, I am having serious
second thoughts about the last in the wake of knowingly inaccurate
histories generated by DC Comics.

I’m also having second thoughts about signing articles of clothing,
mostly because I’m so bad at it.  I don’t have the firmness of hand
to do it as well as I’d like.  But it seems to delight those fans
who ask for my signature on shirts and it’s likely I’ll continue to
be a pushover for such requests.

I will not sign body parts.  Yes, I signed one breast decades ago
and it was not an entirely unpleasant experience.  But it’s really
not me. 

The Fan/Pro Bill of Rights recommends that such information be put
on a sign wherever the pro is signing, but, looking over the above,
the sign would be taller than I am.  Which is, I know, not all that
unusual.  I started out short and I’m shrinking.  Soon I may have
to retire to the Roloff farm.

I prefer to sign at my table or scheduled signing events.  I don’t
charge for my signature unless I’m signing for a charity.  Please
give generously on those occasions.

Since I don’t generally have a long autograph line, I can sign as
many items as you like.  However, if for some reason I become the
flavor of the minute and do have a long autograph line, I’d limit
the number of autographs to ten.  If you have more than ten items
for me to sign, you would have to go to the back of the line after
I sign the first ten.  Realistically, this is not likely to occur.

I’ll gladly answer even the questions I’ve answered a hundred times
before.  However, be respectful of my time and that of other fans
waiting to talk to me.  Don’t come to my table to debate me or to
bitch about something I’ve written.  That’s not what I’m there for
and it’s not what your fellow fans are there for.  There are many
online venues in which you can attempt to vex me.

If you want your items personalized, tell me so and spell your name
slowly and clearly.  I want to get it right as much as you want me
to get it right.  I rarely take requests as to how I personalize an
item.  But I’ll keep an open mind.

Please remove your items from their protective bags or containers
before giving them to me to sign.  I dread the thought of catching
your comic book on a piece of tape. 

Let me know if you want an item signed on its cover or an interior
page.  I try to find somewhere to sign where I won’t cover up too
much of the art.  If you’ve a specific place on the item where you
want me to sign, I’ll accommodate you.

If I’m somewhere other than at my table or signing session, I may
or may not be able to sign something for you.  It depends where I’m
going at the time or if I’m in the middle of a conversation or many
other factors.  But, if you catch the right window of opportunity
and there’s a convenient place to sign, I’ll try to accommodate the

The Fan/Pro Bill of Rights states:

No matter how long a line is, fans should yield the right of way to
a fellow fan with a screaming baby.  This may seem unfair, but
it’ll will make everyone’s life easier, and it beats scowling and

I hadn’t thought about that one, but it makes sense to me.  I will
make it so from here on.

I don’t care if you’re planning to profit off the items I’m signing
for you.  The more you make off Isabella-signed stuff, the more you
have to buy more Isabella stuff.  It’s the circle of life.

One more comment...

Consider my table as you would my home, my blog, my Facebook page,
or my message board.  I’m your host and will always strive to treat
you cordially and courteously.  I expect, nay, insist, you treat me
in like manner.  Nobody, especially not me, gets perfect marks in
this area, but it’s a goal worth striving for.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   

© 2011 Tony Isabella


  1. Peter David has informed me that there is a nice downloadable PDF of the Bill of Rights at:


  2. Tony, I would never attempt to vex you.

  3. Thanks for this.

    I have an unusual first name and so I bring along business-sized cards with the proper spelling of my name on them. Barring that, I write my name on an index card.