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#479317 - 11/14/01 11:33 PM JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Hi,
This question actually goes out to everyone, but I mentioned Jeff by name since he was the only comic publisher nice enough to respond to my previous topic on new talent in the industry. Several of the replies about there being no money in the industry got me wondering, "what exactly do funnybook writers and artists make?" I remember seeing this special on Todd McFarlane where it said he was making a million dollars a year back when he was drawing Spiderman for Marvel. Of course, I imagine the pay has dropped since those years. Can anyone tell me what a writer makes for one of the major two publishers, what about image, what about and independent like alternative? Same thing for artist. Do independent or small publishers only pay creators if the book sells? How does it work?
Zeus

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#479318 - 11/14/01 11:51 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Milo George Offline
Member

Registered: 05/19/99
Posts: 759
Loc: Seattle
I know the writer rates at DC range from about $75-100.00 per page, though writers who have names and/or are writing books that sell well make more. Pencilers make $120-200 a page, inkers around $100-150 a page. [I try not to think about what letterers and colorists make, the poor bastards.]

I haven't bothered to look at sales numbers in a long time, but I seriously doubt anything is selling well enough for freelancers to get royalty checks anymore. I would assume Marvel & the Image studios pay something in the same ballpark as DC and, as I think either Steve Lieber or Bob Fingerman said, "In small press comix, the floor's the limit."

-- milo george www.tcj.com

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#479319 - 11/15/01 09:41 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Brian Jacks Offline
Member

Registered: 01/06/01
Posts: 638
Loc: NYC
Quote:
Originally posted by Milo George:
I would assume Marvel & the Image studios pay something in the same ballpark as DC and, as I think either Steve Lieber or Bob Fingerman said, "In small press comix, the floor's the limit."

-- milo george www.tcj.com


How would an Image studio, most of them being fairly small operations, be able to afford the same pay-rate as DC or Marvel? I'd imagine it's substantially less, unless it's a huge book like SPAWN.

-Brian
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#479320 - 11/15/01 11:45 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
United Comics Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/99
Posts: 202
Loc: Milford, CT, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Slush:
How would an Image studio, most of them being fairly small operations, be able to afford the same pay-rate as DC or Marvel? I'd imagine it's substantially less, unless it's a huge book like SPAWN.

-Brian


Have you seen the sales figures lately? SPAWN's not quite as huge as it used to be.

I believe like most of the small guys (including us), it's a percentage of sales (possibly with an advance against same), since books from Image Central are creator owned. I don't know about Top Cow.

TC at
United Comics http://www.unitedcomicworks.com
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#479321 - 11/15/01 12:59 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Elayne Riggs Offline
Member

Registered: 01/29/99
Posts: 2983
Loc: Bronx, NY, USA
The question of "how much do they make" is very circumstance-dependent. As already pointed out, page rates vary depending on the publisher, and freelancers can make different page rates at different publishers even when they work for more than one place at the same time. But this doesn't take into account special per-book or per-series contracts, exclusives (where there are bonuses for things like meeting deadlines), royalties (which as Milo pointed out are few and far between now but do still exist) and situations like CrossGen's where most of the creative talent are considered employees.

I'd say maybe 75% of comic book writers and artists do not make enough money in the primary market (the secondary market being sales of original art) to support themselves, and I suspect I'm lowballing that percentage. The rest are the lucky ones. It helps to have a spouse with a steady job. [img]/resources/ubb/smile.gif[/img]

- Elayne (spouse with a steady job)
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#479322 - 11/15/01 06:35 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
You know that pay rate really isn't that bad.
Lets take the low range at DC for a writer.
$75 page X 24 pages a book = $1800 an issue.
You write two books that translates into $3600 a month or $43,200 a year. Not enough to buy a luxury yatcht, but $40K plus a year ain't bad. And most of the hot writers are probably making the high range and seem to be writing like 5 books a month. Some of the top writers are probably making a $100K plus using these figures.
Anyone know what the rates are at Marvel? I'm especially curious about the independents.
Zeus

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#479323 - 11/15/01 07:53 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
ScottChantler Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 675
Loc: Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Actually, it IS pretty bad. Making $40K as a freelancer isn't like making $40K as an employee. You've got to cover your own expenses, buy your own health insurance, invest in your own pension plan, as well as socking away enough to live on in case the work dries up. It's not as if freelancers work consistently. It's feast or famine in my experience, so the "feast" months have to pay for the "famine" months. Having to write four or five titles at a time just to stay ahead of the game is ridiculous--that's more work than you think!

While I can't speak for writers, I can say that the page rates that comic artists make is an embarassment considering what commercial illustrators (such as myself) make. For what Marvel or DC would pay for an entire page of artwork, I make for a single spot illustration in a magazine. AND I get to hold onto my copyright, in case I want to sell the same illustration to some other magazine in the future.

Drawing comics is a lot of work. It requires a knowledge of cinematics, acting, design, anatomy, movement, and a whole lot of other stuff. To do it right requires enormous skill. For $120-$200 a page, plus a complete sellout of rights, is it any wonder the big companies have trouble finding any decent talent?

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Scott Chantler www.scottchantler.com

"We are here on Earth to fart around. Don't let anybody tell you any different!"
- Kurt Vonnegut, Timequake

[This message has been edited by ScottChantler (edited 11-15-2001).]
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#479324 - 11/15/01 07:59 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
madget Offline
Member

Registered: 05/11/01
Posts: 4870
Quote:
Originally posted by Zeus Thrillkill:
You know that pay rate really isn't that bad.Zeus


S'what I was thinking. I'd be happy with $40,000/yr. I assumed that comic illustrators were fairly poor.

K

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#479325 - 11/15/01 09:36 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Elin Winkler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/15/01
Posts: 72
Loc: San Antonio TX
Man, it sure would be nice to make $40K a year! But remember, freelancers count as self-employed, so they have to pay self-employment taxes. It's a ridiculously high percentage, as the government obviously does not like the self-employed. ^_~ (If I recall correctly, it's something like 30-40 percent of what you make.)

Also, only the high-end people are going to be making $40K a year. In the small-press arena, it's rare to make enough to live on and artists have to either have day-jobs or do lots and lots of outside work, art commissions, original art sales, etc. For example, at our company, artists get a royalty based on sales of their books. Let's say Jim Bob draws "King of Manga" for us and it sells 1800 copies (decent, pays-for-itself numbers). We figure our royalty based on our wholesale price of the comic, so Jim Bob would get 17% of the wholesale price (about $1.04, so he gets about 17 cents per book) which would make his royalty for that comic about $320. (Of course, if a book sells better, the artist gets a better royalty rate, and has the potential to make more.) All our stuff is completely creator-owned though, so we only get one-time printing rights. Obviously, if Jim Bob does a monthly book, even if it maintains steady 1800 sales, he's only making $320 a month, which comes out to a whopping $3840 per year. Well below the poverty line. The small-press area is pretty much for people who are just really passionate about comics, because there is not really any real money in it. (As the publisher, I'm not getting rich off it either- I make a thrilling $12K a year *before* taxes. Yes it's true, I could make more if I stayed in retail.)

Hope this info helps show the differences in pay scales for the majors and the indies.

--Elin Winkler http://www.radiocomix.com
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#479326 - 11/16/01 02:28 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
United Comics Offline
Member

Registered: 08/08/99
Posts: 202
Loc: Milford, CT, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by Elin Winkler:
We figure our royalty based on our wholesale price of the comic, so Jim Bob would get 17% of the wholesale price (about $1.04, so he gets about 17 cents per book) which would make his royalty for that comic about $320. (Of course, if a book sells better, the artist gets a better royalty rate, and has the potential to make more.) (As the publisher, I'm not getting rich off it either- I make a thrilling $12K a year *before* taxes. Yes it's true, I could make more if I stayed in retail.)

Hope this info helps show the differences in pay scales for the majors and the indies.

--Elin Winkler


This is true...and I still get those submissions from people who think they're going to get Marvel and DC rates from us (if not, then we're ripping them off and hoarding the money for ourselves--no concept of sales).
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