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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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Comics Publishing for the new millennium!
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)
_________________________
"Life is truly normal only when people feel safe enough to critique, defend, and analyze art and popular culture." - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Click here for my blog, Pen-Elayne on the Web
Click here for Robin Riggs' latest interview

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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
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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?

------------------
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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"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
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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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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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#479327 - 11/16/01 07:52 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
ghostdog Offline
Member

Registered: 09/05/01
Posts: 41
Loc: England
$40k a year for a freelancer is nothing...here in Britain, if you earn around the 30k - 40k mark you're really no better off than someone in the 12k -15K mark...why? Well for a start the percentage on your tax doubles, so you may earn twice as much but heck you most definately pay twice as much...you only really start earning a decent wage when you reach the 60k - 100K mark...the rest is just getting by.


Like someone said, feasts and famines...aint that the truth?
_________________________
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you even showed up!"
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#479328 - 11/16/01 09:20 AM 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
Scott and Elin and everyone else who pointed out that "$40K isn't really $40K" are right on the mark. Let alone that $40K is not a living wage if you actually want to live in a city like NYC (where you really need two incomes), Zeus is also assuming there are a lot of writers doing two books a month. The competition for comic book writing jobs at the Big Two is much greater than for art jobs; dozens of wonderful, experienced writers can't even get one monthly, let alone two. This is a good example of what I meant when I said that the people who are making a viable living from comics (particularly from writing comics) are the exceptions, not the rule. With art, you can't add up "x-amount times 12" all the time anyway because very few pencillers wind up doing 12 books in a row in a given 12-month period. There are all kinds of variables you can't figure in with freelancers to make the numbers come out even the way you would with people drawing a steady salary. So it's silly to even try this kind of extrapolation.

- Elayne
_________________________
"Life is truly normal only when people feel safe enough to critique, defend, and analyze art and popular culture." - Lisa Schwarzbaum
Click here for my blog, Pen-Elayne on the Web
Click here for Robin Riggs' latest interview

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#479329 - 11/16/01 05:39 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Chris Knowles Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/99
Posts: 875
Loc: USA
And the moral of this story is except for a relative handful of guys, Comics is a lousy way to make a living. And the worst part about it is trying to find work outside of comics when that's all you've done for 20 years, especially when your editor has watched Logan's Run one too many times.

Advice to aspiring cartoonists--diversify.

XOX for Elin

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#479330 - 11/16/01 09:08 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
Still this sounds far from the McDonalds fry cook wages I was seeing in my mind for writers and artists (at least with the big two).
You might not be able to support a family of four on 40K a year, but a lot of families these days are two income families. Gone are the days of one breadwinner per family.
Taxes are high for everybody. Sure self-employed people take a hit, but so do married people.
Now, I was very interested in hearing the independent wages, and yes I agree that working for an independent ain't going to support anybody who isn't willing to get by on a steady diet of dog food.
Working for an independent pretty much has to be considered a part-time second job. Shame of the whole thing is when I posed my question about lack of new ideas and new talent in the industry, the biggest argument against my statement was just take a look at this assorted list of independents. The very creators out there that are considered the new innovators in the industry are having to struggle by on scraps. While a handful of writers and artists put out most of the books by the big two. What can be done? Is it up for the big two to bring in new creators? Or is it up to the fan to start buying the independents and make the big two take notice?
One more follow up question:
Does anyone know how Image pays? Do their creators make a decent wage or is more like the independents?
Zeus

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#479331 - 11/16/01 10:51 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Quote:
Originally posted by Zeus Thrillkill:
Working for an independent pretty much has to be considered a part-time second job.

There are some people who do very well off of independent comics. The Jeff Smiths and Terry Moores of this world can make a nice little living.
Quote:
Does anyone know how Image pays? Do their creators make a decent wage or is more like the independents?
Folks who do books for Image Central don't get paid for their work, really. Rather, they pay Image to publish the book, and get to keep everything above certain set costs. As such, income is reall dependent on sales.

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#479332 - 11/17/01 12:50 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Zeus Thrillkill Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/31/01
Posts: 17
They pay Image to publish their books! Wow! Didn't know that. Any idea how they make out. How much does it cost to publish a book with Image? (know it depends on the print run, but let's say the minimum run). Will they take just anybody with the cash to pay for it or is there still a submission process etc.? Does this mean most creators lose money when they publish through image or do they get to take home a larger part of the profits and make out better than if they were publishing with the big two?
Zeus

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#479333 - 11/17/01 06:35 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 Zeus Thrillkill:
They pay Image to publish their books! Wow! Didn't know that. Any idea how they make out. How much does it cost to publish a book with Image? (know it depends on the print run, but let's say the minimum run). Will they take just anybody with the cash to pay for it or is there still a submission process etc.? Does this mean most creators lose money when they publish through Image...


OK, this is my understanding...Image up fronts the money (yes, there IS a submission process, you go through Image Central because the individual studios no longer look at outside projects), but charges a per issue fee (approx. $2000 was what I was told) which covers solicitation and an ad in Previews. Beyond whatever costs are fronted by Image and their fee, the creator gets the rest (plus he/she retains all rights to the property, Image owns nothing but their logo). How do creators do? Some do better with the higher Image visibility, some don't since the profit margin has to exceed the $2000 fee.

One reason we started United Comics (similar model, except we don't front costs and our fee is a fraction of Image's) was to help those with a good project that might benefit from lower fees (and editorial/production experience). It's a tough market (thank God, it's getting better).

How much does it cost to publish? From a practical standpoint (meaning not the rock bottom cost, but a working average), $1200 an issue is a good minimum point (basic b&w and not counting fees) on up to $10-15,000.

TC at
United Comics http://www.unitedcomicworks.com
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UNITED COMICS:
Comics Publishing for the new millennium!
http://www.unitedcomicworks.com

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#479334 - 11/17/01 07:58 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
jason_maranto Offline
Member

Registered: 11/23/98
Posts: 135
Loc: Tampa,Fl - USA
Boy, I'd love to see 40K sometime in my life... I'm lucky to see 10K a year and it's usually more like 6-8K every year. I've been working in comics for 4 years now.

But on the bright side alot of stuff is tax deductible and given that I don't make much and I have a fair amount of expenses I don't really have to pay much in taxes.

Moral of the story? - live in an area that has a low cost of living and keep your receipts if you want to work in comics [img]/resources/ubb/wink.gif[/img]

Jason.

------------------

"I think you'd serve yourself well to scale back on the rhetoric and start putting out work that speaks towards your points." - Ed M Alexander


http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~jmaranto
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#479335 - 11/17/01 08:17 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Stephen R Bissette Offline
Member

Registered: 11/27/98
Posts: 939
Loc: wilmington, VT USA
Using the somewhat arbitrary $40K figure that was established a couple of posts in -- a figure assuming (a) you're a writer able to score a couple of monthly titles a month, and (b) that you can keep 'em, which is in itself a stretch for all but a handful of active creators today -- has immediately established a completely false premise for this entire thread.

Look at it this way: the checks, when they do come, arrive without any real frequency... and HOW, pray tell, will you pay the rent, keep food on the table, keep on top of car (much less health) insurance, electric, gas, etc. bills, and cover your taxes when you haven't a clue, however steadily you work, when the checks will arrive?

In many cases, how could you AFFORD to "hold out" for a job you'd jumped through multiple hoops for sans any pay? How could you avoid getting into taking on too many commitments when you were scamming one job to finance another? By the time some long-overdue check did arrive, it was all due out. And most discouraging of all, when I did have a regular gig, the publisher (DC) would too often play games with the mailing of the checks.

The total income sometimes averaged out into something like a living (with only four of those 24 years truly comfortable, financially: the year of the "1963" project, which was financed in part by my day-job, and the three years on TYRANT pre-distribution collapse), but it was awfully hard getting a family through the stretches of sometimes MONTHS when however much work you had and were doing, there was simply no income. I was owed money constantly, but you can't pay the rent with that. Feast or famine, indeed; I used to pay ahead on rent whenever sizable checks did arrive... and we simply couldn't keep health insurance as we couldn't meet the monthly payments in the best of times.

This was the greatest challenge of freelancing, whether I was working steadily or sporadically throughout my 24 years in the industry. Self-publishing was the most stable period of income I ever had, in large part due to the fact it was payment based on clear standards (product shipped=check in 30-60 days)... until it all was down to a single distributor, and it was time to bail.

[This message has been edited by Stephen R Bissette (edited 11-17-2001).]

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#479336 - 11/17/01 01:44 PM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
JeffMason Offline
Member

Registered: 08/07/00
Posts: 591
Loc: Gainesville, Florida, USA
The per page rate really varies a lot based on the creator, company, and project. Most smaller companies don't do page rates, but make payments based on a royalty structure depending on how well a book sells.

------------------
Jeff Mason
Publisher
Alternative Comics
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Alternative Comics

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#479337 - 11/18/01 05:05 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
Member

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
_________________________
Scott Chantler
www.scottchantler.com

"The more wonderful the means of communication, the more trivial, tawdry, or depressing its contents seemed to be."
- Arthur C. Clarke

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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]

------------------
Clint Hollingsworth
The Wandering Ones
_________________________
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
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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.
_________________________
http://jessehamm.blogspot.com

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#479345 - 11/26/01 02:22 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
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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
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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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#479347 - 11/27/01 01:16 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
Aether Paladin Offline
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Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 79
Loc: Brooklyn, NY, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by NatGertler:
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]

Yes, that meager specifc isn't properly stated, but my actual point is a mid-level comics professional makes about what a mid-to-low level manager or administrator makes at best in almost any other industry. Most of the jobs I mentioned have starting salaries in the mid-30's to low 40's, which is why I chose them. And again, those are starting salaries.

[QUOTE]Living in a big city should be considered a luxury for a freelancer, who should strongly consider living in more affordable areas.


In addition to being just plain silly, this is totally beside the point - the question is "how well do comics creators do finanically?" not "Where Does Nat Gertler Think Comics Creators Should Live?".
Fact is, the idea the job that pays enough as long as you live somewhere cheap isn't exactly a major recommendation.

Quote:
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.).


Sure... as long as you're established. Until then, networking is a vital aspect of getting work, and doing it long-distance isn't easy. You can certainly self-publish until you make a name for yourself from anyplace, but that's just increasing the amount of resources you have to spend until you're making money, and it's not exactly a certain road - there's dozens of talented unknowns still slaving away on their own for every Bendis or Mahfood.

Quote:
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.


a) I'm pretty sure most folks would consider losing 30-50% of their income overnight a disaster any way you slice it

b) spreading your work across multiple publishers in no way affects the possibility the title you work on won't be cancelled.

Again, the general point of this thread is to look over how well comics creators do financially. In that regard, it's simply a fact that:

1) On the average, you could do better in nearly any other semi-skilled profession in terms of the qualifications and experience required relative to the salary one can expect - two years of training in nearly any other profession would get you much more than you could expect in five years of work comics, including fast food.

2) The truth is the high end of the scale looks even worse. Do the math and you'll find the absolute superstars of comics can't be making more than $150,000 a year, and the overwhelming majority of those people have 10-15 years of experience before they got to that level. Lawyers, architects and accountants can get to that salary level in half that time and still be considered in a median range. You can learn be a qualified surgeon in the time it took Busiek to hit MARVELS from his first work in the industry and be a lawyer or architect in the time it took Waid to make it, and in all cases, you could expect to much better than 150K before your career is done. With comics, that's the best you can do.

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#479348 - 11/27/01 03:46 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
NatGertler Offline
Member

Registered: 07/10/99
Posts: 4618
Quote:
In addition to being just plain silly, this is totally beside the point
No, "Aether Paladin", how well one is doing financially is judged in terms not only of income but also in terms of expenses. There are some jobs that effectively require you to live in an expensive area. Getting a job that pays $10,000 more is not a bonus if you have to pay $15,000 more per year rent for a reasonable place. Being a comics creator does not weight you down with that, and that is vital to how one is doing financially.
Quote:
Sure... as long as you're established. Until then, networking is a vital aspect of getting work, and doing it long-distance isn't easy.
And yet, many of today's top creators don't even live in the same country as the publisher where they made it big. Unless you're trying to break in via editorial positions, you don't need to live in reasonable daily commuting distance from any particular place (although it is sometimes handy to live close enough to visit every once in a while.)

Plus, it seems a much larger portion of networking takes place online.

Quote:
a) I'm pretty sure most folks would consider losing 30-50% of their income overnight a disaster any way you slice it
Many of the experienced freelancers I deal with wouldn't. A disappointment, perhaps,but after one has done these things for a while, one can get used to projects coming and going. And certainly it's far less disasterous than losing 100% of one's income.
Quote:
b) spreading your work across multiple publishers in no way affects the possibility the title you work on won't be cancelled.
Any individual title, no... but the odds of them all disappearing at once drops drastically when it takes more than an implosion at a single publisher for it to occur.
Quote:
2) The truth is the high end of the scale looks even worse. Do the math and you'll find the absolute superstars of comics can't be making more than $150,000 a year
Funny, when I do the math, I don't find that limitation at all. Maybe I am better at math than you, but when I look at what Frank Miller is apt to make in 2002, between getting paid for millions of dollars worth of Dark Knight 2 sales on the original issues, the inevitable collection, the foreign rights deals, his cut of the licensing deals, and all the money that continues to come from sales of his backlist, I don't picture him coming in under that $150,000 mark. If he's anywhere near that, it's time to fire his agent. And if he sells his originals...

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#479349 - 11/27/01 09:44 AM Re: JeffMason? So how much do funnybook writers and artists make?
fumetti Offline
Member

Registered: 09/29/99
Posts: 922
ANOTHER FACTOR: The total number of comics jobs which actually pay a page rate are VERY LIMITED.

There are as many teachers in any po-dunk county school system than are regular-assignment pencillers at Marvel, DC, and Image combined.

As for indy creators, maybe 5-10% make enough to justify the time put into their books (meaning it breaks down to minimum wage or better). The rest are putting in upwards of 200 hours per book for--at best-- a dollar or two an hour. Most of those indy solicitations in Diamond BARELY pay the printer (too many don't even earn that much). The only indy-only creators who are making a living are those who got "noticed" before the bust of the mid-90s.

YET ANOTHER FACTOR: Take a look at the list of creators on the page-rate books today. How many have had regular monthly work over the past ten years? How many had ANY work ten years ago? The turnover is HUGE. So even if an aspiring talent did get a regular gig, the odds are devastatingly AGAINST them to have more than a 5-year window in the business.

For MOST comic book talent, comics are just a part time job.

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