Everything You Need To Know About The Real Cost Of Making Comics

by Tito W. James
Image courtesy of @SarahCAndersen

At C2E2 2019, I attended a panel about the business of making comics and how to budget accordingly. Here is a summary of the topics covered.

Sample Page Rates

Script $80-100 $25-50
Covers $600-700 $200-500
Line art $200-300 $100-250
Color art $120-150 $35-100
Letters $20-25 $10-20


  • Revenue: Total Money earned by the publisher.
  • Sales number: Number of copies sold.
  • Expenses: All the costs to produce the comic such as printing and paying artists.
  • Profit: Revenue minus expenses.

Tangible Costs

  • Printing
  • Production
  • Advertising
  • Shipping

Intangible Costs

  • Time spent creating
  • Time spent marketing
  • Time spent planning
  • Time it takes to hound publishers to pay you.


  • Draw up a contract with your collaborator.
  • Stick to your budget. Don’t spend more money than you are willing to lose.
  • Know who your target reader is. Tailor your pitch to your audience.
  • Have comp titles (comparable books to your comic) in mind. “If you like Calvin and Hobbs you’ll love Spencer and Lock.”

Selling Through Diamond

When selling through Diamond you are selling to the direct market (local comic book stores). Every month there’s a Previews catalogue and you need to know how to market your book so that comic book shops will take a chance on you.

There’s a decrease of units sold as a book comes out.

If Issue 1 has 100 units., there will be a 40% drop for issue 2, followed by a 30% drop for issue 3 and a 20% drop for issue 4. That’s why there are so many new number 1 issues and 4-issue miniseries.

The cost of producing all 4 comics remains the same but the revenue decreases. You need to be careful to break even.

Cost Reduction

  • Reduce the page rates.
  • Limit the number of issues.
  • Raise money through crowdfunding.

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