This is a public service announcement to all of the artists and writers who are considering entering this wild world of comics.
Ok, so what I’ve been seeing in these internet streets is that some neophyte writers think that artists are interchangeable and should be happy with whatever rate they are offered. They believe that artists are just sitting around and twiddling their thumbs waiting for these neophyte writers to bless them with their ideas.
These so-called writers are also upset because other artists, who’ve been in the game longer than most of them, are telling younger artists, no matter where they reside, to know their worth and not get jacked by people who don’t value nor respect their efforts.
And yet, some of these writers… Excuse me… “creators” want to play victim when they aren’t willing to respect the artists they hire and pay them what they’re worth?
As one who handles every aspect of comic book production (writing, illustration, lettering, coloring, design, etc.), I know exactly the amount of work it takes to produce a book from beginning to end.
I’ve also gotten paid as a freelancer for over 20 years working as a writer, illustrator, and designer.
And, I have never let anyone undervalue the work I put into the game nor would I ever undervalue anyone else…
Because I respect their talent. And that respect is shown by paying them what they are worth.
When I see these so-called writers, or “creators,” complaining or trying to justify not paying potential artists what they’re worth, regardless of which country they reside, I see that they don’t respect the artist.
That is sad because the artist, not the writer is the attraction to the book.
Look, this is comics, not prose. Comic book readers don’t care about words until they open the book. The artist is the part of the collaboration that gets eyeballs on the project.
Let me put it another way: you literally get what you pay for when it comes to art. $20 art will look like $20 art. $200 art will look like $200 art. No matter which artist from which country you deal with, the metric is the same.
Yet some “creators” act like artists from other countries live in hovels. Because of this poisonous mentality, they employ exploitive capitalist practices (Power to the People) as the model for their businesses while, for the most part, larger companies like DC or Marvel pay their creatives a living wage equivalent for their talents…
And make up that cost by selling books.
UPDATE 01: Here is a link to an article from Creator Resource which lays out the page rates from major comic book companies in 2017.
Some of these “creators” are being cheap as fu*k and their slip is showing. Show some respect and pay the artist their worth.
What is the national average for every country from every artist you work with? And, is that your metric for hiring artists from that region?
If so, that still smacks of exploitation in my eyes.
I would rather pay a bit above their national average, especially if they come from a country whose currency is less than the country where I reside.
I can afford it because that’s showing respect.
You’re talking to a cat who has told other artists to charge me their real rate as opposed to the “I’m just happy to be here” rate because that’s not only showing respect, but that’s also a guarantee that I’m getting some of the best talent in the business.
I treat my collaborators the way I command to be treated in this business.
Here’s another point these so-called “creators” might want to think about if they are going to attempt this mode of artistic exploitation:
Did you ever consider that some artists set the price they set in order to weed out “clients” who they consider are a waste of their time and effort?
To the “creator” who prompted this piece (I’m not giving them the satisfaction of naming them), the claim that American artists are encouraging artists from other countries to raise their rates to price themselves out of their jobs is… ridiculous.
Real talk: an artist should base their rate on the time it takes to create the work and their experience level. Newer artists should charge less because of their experience. Artists with a track record can, and should, charge more.
UPDATE 02: There is a site called Litebox which breaks down the rates illustrators have been paid in various industries including comics.
For example, I wouldn’t do a page for a $100 because my CV shows that I’m worth more than that. However, I tell all of my students that they should establish a baseline rate in order to teach them to respect their talent from jump and to never sell themselves short.
Do you honestly think that artists encouraging other artists to know their worth is part of some devious plan to shaft other artists from different countries in order to what? Level some playing field to work with a bunch of start-ups that are just learning the business themselves?
That is hilariously arrogant.
No, what some people seem to be getting upset about is that artists are encouraging other artists to know their worth.
What some people are getting upset over is artists communicating with other artists in order to help the younger cats coming up in the game not get jerked.
Again, it’s not about pricing themselves out of the market. It’s about self-respect and recognizing their value in this business.
This is where respect comes into play.
As stated earlier, comics are a collaborative effort. Unless you are a true cartoonist and can execute every role yourself, a comic book needs a writer, an illustrator, a colorist (if color book), a letterer, and an editor in order to be a viable product.
A comic book is an exercise is graphic design; a synthesis of image and text coming together to create a message.
No one is more important than the other in this process. If one aspect of the product is lacking, then the entire book falls apart.
So, you need to respect every member of the team. That respect, in part, comes from paying your creative team properly.
That’s not sabotage. That’s called solidarity.
Power to the People.