Have you ever shaken hands with a thousand people in a day? And signed a thousand books at the same time? Then done it all again the next day? Then tried to type something? I have.
Heroes Con in 2006 was the first big comics convention I’d done in years — the first since 1997, I think, when I wasn’t really as well-known in the field as I am now. Towards the end of the second day, after my second or third signing of the show, a book editor I know caught me as I was leaving the building and shook my hand. And I yelped.
Did you ever see that episode of THE WEST WING with Alan Alda as the presidential candidate whose paw got crushed to pulp by repeated handshakes? They weren’t making that up.
I don’t do these big American shows often — one a year at most — and so I tend to have a lot of signings scheduled for me. Two a day, two hours apiece, often running over that time. And, for some reason, everyone sticks out their hand when they turn up with their books. Now, trust me, signing books for two and a half hours is rough enough on a hand. I’m not saying it’s like breaking rocks or something. But if all you usually do with that hand is type all day, it’ll cramp after a couple of hours of sustained handwriting. And if you’re using the same hand to shake with a few hours’ worth of punters… well, I was icing that hand down on the Saturday at Heroes Con, and keeping it in my pocket when I walked around the floor (which was another weird event in itself).
I’ll post my signing schedule for the Chicago con when I get home. Five hours a day minimum. I’m the show’s guest of honour, and they figure there’ll be a lot of books for me to deface.
So Avatar Press tell me they’ve gotten me a hand brace for this show. Which makes me feel like a cripple, frankly. But when I got into this business, I never thought I’d be shaking more hands in a long weekend than a presidential candidate does in a month.
So, yes, I’d love to shake hands with you at the signing table. But if I do, my hand will fall off. And I’m not having you bastards eBaying my hand.