I have an interesting collection of autographs on some of my favorite artwork or comics.
For me Fan Expo was an opportunity to add some new pieces to that collection, and I did it in a very systematic way.
Steve McNiven - I think most people going to see Steve were high on his work from Marvel that he did with Mark Millar. Whether it was one of the books from the epic Old Man Logan story in Wolverine, or the newly released and incredibly edgy Nemesis, I saw a lot of people in line with that work looking for an autograph. I must confess I too had two books from the Wolverine run which I wanted signed by the artist (in hopes that one day soon Mr. Millar's signature will adorn the same books - I enjoyed Old Man Logan.) I also had with me my ten year old daughter, and we brought along two books for Steve to sign for her as well; both issues of the CrossGen gem called Meridian. Steve immediately latched on to those two covers as his favorite pieces of work from his time with Meridian, and they really are gorgeous pieces of art. He took a little bit of time to talk with my daughter, and even brought up and mentioned his own ten year old. Steve was a genuine and friendly guy, and I enjoyed meeting him.
With that said, I should mentioned that while we were in line (it wasn't too long - maybe 20 minutes) I did notice that Gary Frank came out and started speaking to Steve while other fans were up getting their books signed. I hate that, because Steve immediately gravitated to Gary, and I felt like the fans getting autographs at that moment were missing out on a chance to have any real personal interaction with Steve. If it had been me, it might have ruined the experience for me.
Stan Lee - One and a half hours in line to meet one of the most influential men in all of comics, and it was a sterile, sanitized and unfulfilling experience. I don't know whose fault it is that it runs that way, but I know that it was a terrific disappointment for me. I have Stan's autograph on a copy of Incredible Hulk #109 (also featuring Ka-Zar) now, and I can say I've met him, but it was like a person you're introduced to as they pass you going down on the escalator while you're on the other side going up. It hardly counts.
Gary Frank - Straight after Stan I went and got in line for autographs from Gary Frank. Aside from Stan he was the next most important target on my list due largely to the fact that I'm such a big fan of his work. I don't know that he was the second biggest name at the show, but to me he was clearly a step apart in terms of the impact he's had on my reading enjoyment over the years. The line moved well, and it was about a thirty-five or forty minute wait to get to the front. I broke my rule of only bringing two or three books and took five for Gary to sign, because he's worked on so many things that I loved. I had him sign the cover of the final issue of the awesome story in Action Comics entitled Superman & The Legion Of Super-Heroes, and then switched gears and had him sign the first issue of Midnight Nation. Sticking with Marvel published books after that I had him signed Incredible Hulk #420, the issue in which Bruce Banner's former sidekick Jim Wilson dies of aids. It was a controversial and powerful book, and an easy choice to get the men responsible for creating it to sign. I finished off with copies of Issue #1 and Issue #6 of Kin, a creator owned project that Gary did years ago that I really enjoyed. It was always intended to be a series of three mini-series, but after talking with Gary I found out that the next two will probably never happen. A tremendous letdown, as all of my sons have read and enjoyed that book and I was looking forward to enjoyed the next round of books with them as well.
Gary was very personable when I spoke with him, friendly and witty. He held a conversation while signing, which is a plus. So many guys just sign and really don't have anything to say, either because they've been at it all day, or because they just aren't outgoing people. Gary was different and it showed.
Brian Azzarello - Fifteen minutes in line right after I exited the Gary Frank line, and I got two books signed by Brian. Seeing as I don't read 100 Bullets I went with one of his Superman books and the new First Wave #1. It was signed and done so quickly that I barely had time to thank him and I was out of there. Not much of an experience, although I thought that others seemed to be connecting with Brian more, so maybe it was me.
Ian Churchill - The wait for Ian was only about fifteen minutes long, and it was easily my favorite time with any of the people who signed for me. Ian signed one book at my request; Titans #1, which I liked for the way that it reflected the team. We then got quickly into where he came from, and the time I spent traveling in the UK, and how much he loves Canada. I found him incredibly personable and engaging and would recommend that anyone with the opportunity to meet him does so. Terrific guy.
Now that you've heard about who I saw and what they signed....let me tell you about one of my autographing pet peeves. I absolutely HATE when somebody in line is allowed to go up with thirty books that they want signed. I think the authors and artists should limit them to five autographs and then make them go to the back of the line if they want any more. The selfishness that is rampant at shows is beyond my ability to properly describe to you, and it blows me away that there isn't better regulation of it to ensure that as many people as possible get to meet the special guests at each show.
I also would love to hear them insist that every book be signed TO somebody. If you're chasing autographs for resale, you should have to pay for them. The artists/writers are entitled to a piece of your heightened income on their book, so if you don't want it signed to you (or to a friend) then you can't have an autograph - you can BUY an autograph. That will also stop people from getting 5 copies of the same book signed (and you just KNOW those are for resale!)
Anyways, that's my 2 cents.