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Old 01-09-2005, 10:35 PM
spectrum spectrum is offline
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How much do comic book writers/artists get paid?

I was trying to figure out the economics of the comic book industry. Does anyone know how many copies the average comic book sells?

And how much do the creatives get paid? Do the writers/artists get paid by the page, or by the issue? Or is there a standard?

Not a burning question, just mild curiosity.
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Old 01-09-2005, 11:16 PM
Askia Askia is offline
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I once wrote Marvel and DC this exact same query and got bumpkus for my trouble.

Purchasing A Writer's Guide to the Business of Comics by Lurene Haines in 1996 got me a little more information; the author includes a couple of sample dummy contracts in the appendixes quoting fees like: "For a fully executed script for six twenty-four page issues... Publisher shall pay writer $85.00 per page plus 1% royalty on wholesale prices for sales over 50,000 copies," for a work-made-for-hire.

The other sample contract reads... "Publisher agrees to employ the writer to produce a 32 page, one shot graphic novel..... agrees to pay the writer a $500.00 flat fee advance against 7% of the wholesale, after printing expenses as compensation for first printing rights." Plus late daily charges against the publisher if the fee is late, and late charges subtracted from the writer's flat fee if the work were late.

I imagine all the fees quoted have gone up, though it's hard to say by how much. None of my subsequent comic book reading has gotten me any more information about this subject. If anyone has any updated hard numbers, I'd like to hear them -- so I'm subscribing to this thread.
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Old 01-09-2005, 11:27 PM
spectrum spectrum is offline
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I figured it was per page, but $85 is higher than I expected. At that rate, in a year, that's about $22,000, which explains why most comic writers seem to write two or three books.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:24 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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spectrum. That $&5.00 per page in that particular contract also buys all rights, so if the story gets reprinted, turned into a movie or introduces a new character you created who later becomes wildly popular -- you STILL only get 1% per 50,000 units and none of the film income or merchandising. How's that for a pension?

I've always wondered if that $85.00 per page represented a top wage or industry average at that time or what.

Chairman Pow makes some good points, along with some good information, too. But even though the numbers of some top-selling titles have gone down, trade paperback sales are way up over what they were ten years ago -- and the availability of ESSENTIALS titles and older miniseries makes collecting those affordable and puts them right into the publishers pockets. The current mode of story arcs and decompressed storytelling keeps driving the publishers to make recent storylines into trades. The creator(s) must be compensated for that some kind of way.

My burning question: how does a writer/artist like Paul Chadwick get paid for his new Concrete mini-series?
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:38 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Thanks astro. My only problem with lists of this sort are that they NEVER include wages for a newbie, journeyman, or "hot" writer or letterer.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:47 AM
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Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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Rather interesting point from astro's cite:

On interiors, pencillers can get 2-3 times what a colourist will get.

On covers, it's the reverse.

Since the penciler and inker are in pretty much the same proportions for interior and cover, this surprises me.

It also seriously depriciates the role of the writer - and ignores their pay scale, which is a bit annoying.
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Old 01-10-2005, 02:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
I once wrote Marvel and DC this exact same query and got bumpkus for my trouble.
Bubbele, it's bupkes. Sure, some other variations are acceptable. But, there's no m.
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Old 01-10-2005, 03:38 PM
Askia Askia is offline
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I'm confusing bumpkin and bupkes. Thanks for the correction.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:00 AM
Chairman Pow Chairman Pow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spectrum
I was trying to figure out the economics of the comic book industry. Does anyone know how many copies the average comic book sells?
It's a fairly closely guarded secret. They used to publish the numbers, but for some reason about a year or so ago www.icv2.com (the retailer industry site, rather than a fan site) stopped publishing numbers and went to percents (percents as much as the #1 book that is, so if the #1 book sold 1000 and the #2 book sold 900 copies, #2 would be listed as 90%).

It's surprisingly not as many as you think. Selling 5000 for an indie is unthinkable and selling 1000 would make most people happy. I recall from way back when they still published figures that really only the top few books (maybe top two or three) sold more than 100,000 copies. I recall that the top five generally sold more than 75,000 and the top ten around 50,000. After that it dropped off alot. Of course, monthly releases and special events would skew that generality.

Humorously, the big books now sell less than the cancelling threshold during the heyday of the early '90s.

Of course, there may still be figures out there, but I'm not aware of any. www.newsarama.com may have figures.

Quote:
And how much do the creatives get paid? Do the writers/artists get paid by the page, or by the issue? Or is there a standard?
During the boom in the '90s, it wasn't uncommon for second tier pencillers to make $100,000/yr. I have absolutey no idea what the guys at DC and Marvel make per year currently, but from what some indie guys charge (at least pencillerwise), $100/page wouldn't be terribly out of the ballpark, but I think a "name" talent would have to be paid more. Still. it's a little depressing: $100/page, 22 pages/book, 12 mo/yr. = $26000. Considering that the standard to calculate pages is 1/day (or 8 hrs/page), I'd hope they're paying more.

Of course, I've heard of letterers charging $50/page, so I imagine that a top penciller would be making substantially more.
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:12 AM
astro astro is offline
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Question


Quote:
I would like to know more about the making of a comic book, how it starts, from the writer, to the penciler, to the inker and so on. Who has the most input in the process? How are the artist able to hold on to the originial pencils? Don't they ink over them? Would I need to move to make it in this business? How do comic book artist get paid? I know that they are considered to be independant, and that they sign contracts, but who decides how much one is to be paided. Is there a pay rate, or flat fee? I always hear about deadlines to be met, as far as penciling is concerned, what does that mean? Is'nt comic already written? I think this all for now, I really appreciate your time, thanks

Quote:
- How do comic book artist get paid? I know that they are considered to be independent, and that they sign contracts,
but who decides how much one is to be paid. Is there a pay rate, or flat fee?
- Comic artists get paid by a paycheck, or if over the internet, they transfer money to your account.
You might sign a contract of time (a contract that you work for a certain group or company for a definite amount of time and get paid for it). And other contracts for a project. Sometime you work by the piece, sell a few pages as an illustrator or a few comic pages and get paid by the page.
- There is a pay rate per page, But please note that these are only standard payments, which are subject to change by time.

1- Newcomer:-
a)- Penciler: $10-60
b)- Inker: $10-25
c)- Colorist: $5-20
d)- Cover Penciler: $40-75
E)- Cover inker: $25-50
F)- Cover colorist: $75-250

2- Seasoned Artist: -
a)- Penciler: $50-120
b)- Inker: $25-60
c)- Colorist: $25-60
d)- Cover Penciler: $100-200
E)- Cover inker: $75-100
F)- Cover colorist: $250-700

3- A pro:
a)- Penciler: $100 &up
b)- Inker: $60&up
c)- Colorist: $60&up
d)- Cover Penciler: $200&up
E)- Cover inker: $100&up
F)- Cover colorist: $1,000 &up
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Old 01-10-2005, 10:10 AM
anson2995 anson2995 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chairman Pow
Humorously, the big books now sell less than the cancelling threshold during the heyday of the early '90s.
This is true not just for comics but for the publishing industry as a whole.
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