"Reynolds, we now own all rights to your image. You'll have to pony up $100 to the company every time you look in the mirror."
Tim Broderick writes about book contracts. He'll tell you what an advance is a what a typical print run is. There's a lot of good first-time advice like this:
"You do not pay for copy editing or any printing, storage or shipping. That's the point of finding a publisher, they're in business to take a risk with you. If someone wants you to sign a contract that stipulates you pay for services or fees, they're not a real publisher. Run away!"
One of the first contracts that I was offered mentioned that I would be charged for all phone calls and faxes by the company. I didn't sign that contract!
More and more, I see contracts that want ALL RIGHTS. Even for an online cartoon illustration contest (like the recent New Yorker's "draw Eustace Tilley" contest or the monthly DC Comics Zuda contest), the rule of thumb of the powers-that-be is to procure all rights up front. So, when you upload your comics to these contests, you're agreeing that they may stick their finger in your creation and use it any way they see fit. And you, the person who created the work, no longer has any say in it.
Factoid: the three-part contract with DC Comics Zuda Web site is 6,085 words. The U.S. Constitution has 4,400 words!
Hat tip to Journalista!