Last week I received a message from super-star comic book artist Tony Moore (The Walking Dead) asking me if I had ever heard of a guy named Scott Roush. Tony is running his own comics convention and was contacted by this person who claimed to be representing hundreds of comic book artists/cartoonists for appearances at conventions, offering to bring in anyone on his extensive list. Apparently I was on this list.
That was news to me.
Just yesterday another super-star comic book artist, my good pal Doug Mahnke, sent me a note with a link to an article on BleedingCool about this Roush character called “Are you Being Repped for a Comic con Without Your Knowledge?“. The article published Roush’s list of clients, rife with misspellings and inaccuracies. Sure enough, I’m on it.
I think I’m on his list because when I did Grand Rapids Comic Con in 2014 some lady came up to my booth and asked if I was interested in doing other comic cons. I said maybe but they’d have to be ones I felt I fit into and met other criteria I needed. She said she repped creators and might be able to get me paid to attend future conventions if I was interested. I was pretty skeptical but she took my my contact info, something that is just sitting in a pile and that anyone could take, and said they’d be in touch. I never heard from them again and I certainly did not agree to have them rep me. I’m not even sure this is the same company but it’s the only thing that comes even remotely close to explaining why my name is on that list.
I’ll be contacting Roush and be asked to be removed from his list. At first glance it might not seem damaging to me to be on the list… after all if it gets me a spot at a good convention why not? To understand the reason it’s damaging you have to look at it from the perspective of a comic book convention organizer. Roush goes to them with a long list of comics creators he claims to represent. His purpose is to get them to book people from his list for an appearance fee and presumably he gets a percentage of that fee. The comic con organizer assumes those on that list expect to be paid an appearance fee to participate in their (or any) convention and have authorized Roush to negotiate terms for them. Since no one in their right mind would pay me an appearance fee, I would not be considered to be a guest at their convention. I might have been happy to appear as a guest at their convention without any fee, especially if my travel and hotel was covered and I got a comped table, but because they think I also need an appearance fee I’m crossed off the list. “Representing” someone implies that the person they claim to rep has agreed to them acting on their behalf. It’s disconcerting to think someone might be negotiating something in connection with your name, without you having a clue what kind of demands are being made. I can see some creators losing out on what might have been an advantageous relationship with a convention because someone “negotiated” them out of the picture without the creator even knowing it happened or authorizing any of the term demands.
This is hardly a real world problem for me, since I am somewhat farther down the totem pole of desired guests from say a J. Scott Campbell, Jim Lee or Adam Hughes (like at the bottom of the pole, then dig down a few feet into the ground), but for more well-known comics artists having someone claim to rep them and perhaps even start negotiations for paid appearances without their knowledge might be damaging to their reputations and future prospects for appearances. It’s one thing to maintain database with contact info you have collected. It’s another to say you “represent” someone. In the art world, that often means an EXCLUSIVE arrangement and no opportunity to ethically work directly with an artist.
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