Wait. Who is paying for Stallone's autograph? Or is this a Bansky art punk?
I've never been to one of these Cons, so I don't have any personal experience or insight, but Wil Wheaton talked about this a little bit a while ago.
Pat Tallman (Babylon 5) has a good perspective from the other side here: http://patriciatallman.us/2012/patricia-tallman/conventions/
Unless you are a very famous actor on big shows, you don’t make more
money than any one else in the USA on a yearly basis. Actors are
middle class, if they are LUCKY. So please understand, I cannot fly to
another city for the weekend without a lot of arrangements to cover
these afore mentioned responsibilities, and that COSTS me money. I pay
for a house, child and pet sitter. There is now a charge for your
bags, so we pay for that. Transportation to and from the airport here
in LA, plus food and water at the con, there are all kinds of costs
you don’t think about. Actors have to invest in inventory such as
pictures, DVDs, etc. ... You only need my autograph once, or twice on
things. Once you have it, you never need it again.
I've been going to cons since the mid 80s and never understood the whole paying for autograph thing.
In my teenage years I'd certainly parted with $85 for a personalized autographed 8x10 of Agent Scully.
Personally I'd love to have Tim Thomerson sign this:
While I realize that his career was much broader than Trancers, he played one hell of a Jack Deth.
I remember my first time going to Dragon*Con and having my hair blown back when I hit the Walk of Fame to discover that the celebrities were charging for an autograph. I could kind of understand celebs that were in current or just-finished shows, or very popular series to charge something for their appearance. But I was incredulous to see "That guy from that one episode of that show from 25 years ago" charging $20 a pop for a signature on a glossy 8x10.
What's even more disgusting are the brokers and sellers of the signed pics in the Dealers section. They have the celebs sign stacks of prints, then the dealers frame them (or not) and sell them for anywhere from $20 to $2000 depending. The celeb doesn't make any of that money. And the shit part is they won't even sell the un-signed prints if you like the picture.
To me it would make more sense for "That guy from that one episode of that show from 25 years ago" to charge for autographs than for popular actors. Seems kind of petty for them to do this.
Personally, I wouldn´t even want to spend the time in line for anybody´s aurograph, much less spend a single dime on it.
Worth looking at the extended pricing list...Jason David Frank $50! That's the green/white/red/whatever power ranger! Holy nuts, and after confirming that the name was right, I see he's still playing that part?? And I thought Shatner and West were the kings of milking a part forever.
Absolutely, from the actor's standpoint it makes more sense to charge if you're from an obscure show or movie from years ago.
But from a fan's standpoint, the more obscure and less well-known the actor is, the less desirable his/her autograph will be.
I wouldn't spend a dime on this shit, either. But in our free-market-obsessed world, if you can make a buck on something, society says "go ahead, we'll support you."
I know I'll be dead long before this happens, but hopefully some future kin of mine will live in a world where people realize they don't have to feed into this sort of mentality and just stop paying for autographs, over-priced concert tickets, bloated sports star salaries, etc. And maybe use that money for something a little more important.
This is what you get for going to a commercially-run con. They are EMPHATICALLY money-making enterprises, and you should expect to get charged for any opportunity to get near guests of honor.
At fan-run cons the GOH's tend to be much more approachable, because they don't accept unless they're willing to actually interact with the fans, and there generally isn't a fee for the signature line. Of course depending on whose signature you're trying to get that may not be an option.
(Personally, I don't need star signatures. There are a few author signatures I've accumulated... but I value much more the chance to have heard them speak, and in some cases to have spoken with them, and in a few cases to have socialized with them.)
I'll say this for the pay-per-auto method, I think when actors are out in public they deserve some space and not to be mobbed by a fan saying, "OMG I loved you on that show you did. Can I get a picture with you and an autograph?" I would be comfortable, though, coming up to a star at a booth where he or she is expressly there for people to do that. The fees - to me - seemed excessive for some of the actors. I think they could like first tier and second tier prices - $30 for a minor star, $45 for a big watt star or something.
Many moons ago Neil Gaiman explained why he charges his speaking fee, which some found to be excessive. It's a filter, a way to weed out the gigs he takes from the hundreds of requests he receives. I imagine the signing fee is similar.
It also changes the nature of the interaction to keep the line moving. Gillain Anderson isn't doing you a personal kindness in signing an autograph, she's completing a financial transaction for which many others behind you have similarly paid, therefore it would be inappropriate for you to take 5 minutes of her time to explain how she was the only positive female role model you had when growing up. You pay, exchange a few words, get your photo and move on.
All cons are money making enterprises. You want another con next year? Then this years better make bank. Shit cost's money, travel costs money, hotel ballrooms cost money. Fan love can make a lot of things happen, but it can't produce 100 folding tables, 75 chairs, 30 sound systems, plane tickets, food, water, etc. out of thin air.
The only reason I'd ever have for lining up and paying for an autograph is if I considered it would make some nice multiple on the investment. Which must be exactly what everyone is doing.
The actor behind the character is just ... the actor. The character is interesting.
Not quite true. Fan-run cons are often quite content to break even after all expenses are accounted for. Some are willing to run at a slight loss, if subsidized by a club (though they'll try not to.)
There's a major difference between recouping your expenses and possibly making a bit of buffer to seed the next iteration's budget, and running the con to pay staff and return a profit which can be drawn out of the con's coffers. And there's a major difference in atmosphere/attitude that goes with it.
And some actors are fascinating people independent of the characters they play, or across the multiple characters. . Personally, I would love to have had a chance to talk with (for example) Andreas Katsulas and Claudia Christian while they were starring in Babylon 5 and tell them how much I appreciated their work, and I wouldn't object to having either's signature (though I wouldn't pay convention rates for it).
If that opportunity to "meet and greet" doesn't interest you, that's fine too.
The fact that the autographs get sold is plenty of reason that the celebs deserve to be paid in the first place.
Stars get hassled all the time for autographs by people, even kids, who will sell them immediately, "OK, what's your name?" "Oh NO! Don't put my name on it!"