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#479337 - 11/18/01 05:05 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
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Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
With all the downsides being discussed, I want to note that there are some very positive upsides to the freelance creative life. I've been a full-time freelancer for about a decade now, and the pleasures of establishing my own work environment and building my own schedule are great. The ability to turn down individual gigs without walking away from your job as a whole is a freeing one. With the creative fields, there is also the fact that work done once can be bringing in money for years -- this didn't used to be part of the equation in comics, but it is becoming moreso with the importance of the TPB backlist and with creators being cut in on licensing deals. (It's a very important part of my income, but then most of my income comes from non-comics writing, primarily computer books. Even in comics, however, it still plays a real part for me; last year, I made money off of the very first comics work I ever had published.)

The money isn't great; next year may well be the first year that I hit the $40,000 gross point that everyone seems so interested in, and that's because of a substantial increase in my non-comics work. (I'd hit the mark handily if I wasn't purposely keeping the amount of the more lucrative work I accept down somewhat, so that I have time and energy for more creative projects.) But money is only as good as the comfort it buys you; spending half your waking hours working on something that isn't interesting and isn't what you want to do so that you have more money during the other half of the hours is a dubious bargain.

The real breakthrough for me in dealing with freelancer life came when I realized that I'd been almost out of money a number of times, but the money had always shown up from somewhere. A new gig, royalties on old material, or some other little windfall would come along and keep me going. Suddenly, I became a lot less scared of the times when I didn't have something going. A break between gigs could be treated as a break, and not as the impending end of my freelance career. That not only meant that I could relax a bit more, it also made me more comfortable in turning down crappy work. (You do have to balance this with being responsible with your money. At the moment my checking account is extremely padded, having been paid more in the past half month than I have in the rest of 2001. I could spend the money wildly and then count on more coming from somewhere, but instead I have to realize that half of that cash is an advance on work that I'll be doing over the next six months, and while I will have some money coming in during that time, this is most of the money that will get me through that period -- a particularly expensive period, since I've chosen to do some publishing during that time. So I'm treating myself to some minor extravagances and I'm chosing this time to make some donations, but I'm keeping everything reasonably in check.)

My advice: if you want to be a freelancer, don't pre-limit yourself to one type of field. If I had relied solely on comics work, I'd've starved by now. Even if I had relied solely on the more lucrative computer work, there would have been some rough times without the income from comics, web work, and all the odd little things I've done for money (magazine writing, crossword puzzle design, extra acting work, and so on.)

But if I was all about the money, I'd have stayed in my programming career and quite likely be making in the (very) low 6 figures by now. Instead, I think I'm a much happier guy.

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#479338 - 11/20/01 01:05 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Ayo Offline
Member

Registered: 10/22/01
Posts: 1077
Loc: New York
that's ass.

that's why comics tend to suck...at my school, there's so many talented artists...and comics continue to suck.

I guess its because that scary world of commercial illustration blows comics out of the water, money-wise.
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#479339 - 11/20/01 01:35 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, the illustration biz isn't exactly booming these days, either. Photography and clip art are really cutting into the demand for original illustration, and driving down the prices of the assignments that are left. I keep pretty busy--there must be something in my style or the way that I've marketed it that keeps the business rolling in--but I'm one of the lucky ones.

Still, even rates that are considered low for illustration in other markets beat the hell out the comics industry. I think the current page rates were created at a time when creators could expect the bulk of their income to come from royalties. These days, sounds like the page rate is about it. And unless sales improve, I don't think we'll se it going up, either.

Just one of the industry's MANY problems.

------------------
Scott Chantler
www.scottchantler.com

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

"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
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#479340 - 11/20/01 04:00 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
macclint Offline
Member

Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 731
Loc: Twin Peaks, Washington
Just to add a bit more fuel tto the flame, DC comics, on thier website, states that they are no longer taking submissions.

[img]/resources/ubb/rolleyes.gif[/img]

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Clint Hollingsworth
The Wandering Ones
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Clint Hollingsworth
The Wandering Ones

Shin Kage, Warrior of the Mountainworld

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#479341 - 11/20/01 04:02 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
macclint Offline
Member

Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 731
Loc: Twin Peaks, Washington
Of course, maybe that'll convince people to do more non-DC type comics and diversify.

------------------
Clint Hollingsworth
The Wandering Ones
_________________________
Clint Hollingsworth
The Wandering Ones

Shin Kage, Warrior of the Mountainworld

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#479342 - 11/20/01 06:52 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Lew Stringer Offline
Member

Registered: 08/14/01
Posts: 348
Quote:
Originally posted by macclint:
Just to add a bit more fuel tto the flame, DC comics, on thier website, states that they are no longer taking submissions.

[img]/resources/ubb/rolleyes.gif[/img]



Maybe they've decided that there's enough people in the industry they can contact without seeing samples by newcomers. That's bad for aspiring creators, but good to know DC are putting established people first.

Then again, it could mean they're about to make big cutbacks.

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#479343 - 11/26/01 12:30 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Aether Paladin Offline
Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 79
Loc: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Most everything worth saying has been touched on, but I think there's a thing or two to be elucidated upon:

That low average of 43K a year is, as many have mentioned, actually about 28,000 a year after taxes. Take out 2-3 grand for retirement and a similar amount for healthcare, and you're actually making more like 22-24,000 a year, or the equivalent of $11-12/hour. Not horrible, but hardly an amount you can get ahead on, a subsistence wage for life in most big cities, and even one dependent makes it a real challenge to get by on.

Also, there's not exactly much by way of job security - titles and even whole companies can go under in a blink, especially these days.

There's also the relativity consideration - most low-level office workers make that kind of money or more as a starting salary, as do schoolteachers and cops. Heck, the Census Bureau pays that kind of money for untrained canvassers and data entry operators. I'm not saying those people don't deserve their money, just that pay for comics' is comparable to that of a very-low-ranking professional, an administrative assistant, office manager or a skilled data processor. Considering the talent and effort that's required to produce quality work, that's really not very much.

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#479344 - 11/26/01 02:20 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Jesse Hamm Offline
Member

Registered: 09/24/01
Posts: 682
Loc: Portland, USA
If it weren't for my day-job as a street mime, I could hardly afford to do comics at all.
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#479345 - 11/26/01 02:22 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Deleted for duplication

[This message has been edited by NatGertler (edited 11-26-2001).]

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#479346 - 11/26/01 02:25 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Quote:
Originally posted by Aether Paladin:
[B]That low average of 43K a year is, as many have mentioned, actually about 28,000 a year after taxes. Take out 2-3 grand for retirement and a similar amount for healthcare, and you're actually making more like 22-24,000 a year, or the equivalent of $11-12/hour.
That's a misleading comparison, since you're making more than someone who makes $24,000 a year in a salaried position, since that person then has to deduct taxes, retirement money, and possibly some health expenses.
Quote:
Not horrible, but hardly an amount you can get ahead on, a subsistence wage for life in most big cities, and even one dependent makes it a real challenge to get by on.
Living in a big city should be considered a luxury for a freelancer, who should strongly consider living in more affordable areas. Freedom of location is one of the real advantages of the freelance life (at least in field such as comics, where you can live just about anywhere that FedEx and phone lines reach.) Although at the moment, that freedom is a bit of a curse at the moment; since I can live anywhere, my wife is free to find work wherever her special field requires... and the first places interested in her are in locales that don't set my heart a-flutter.
Quote:
Also, there's not exactly much by way of job security - titles and even whole companies can go under in a blink, especially these days.
On the other hand, the freelancer can have his work spread among multiple publishers, so the collapse of one is not as much of a disaster as for a salaried person whose job disappears.

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