All in all, I thought the article was great and I agreed with quite a bit of it. Pretty insightful and what I believe to be a fair assessment of things as they currently appear in the industry today. Now, for the things I’ve been asked on my FB Page to give my PERSONAL thoughts on things the article brings up…
Page Rates: I’m pretty sure I’m at the entry level of the pay scale. Around $150-$200 as a freelance penciler, but I also knew guys just getting in that started higher than that AND given entire single issues out the gate. So, I don’t know what the protocols are, really. I’ve contributed to about 9 assignments/books in the last 7 years since I broke in and my rate hasn’t changed. I was uneducated in the ways of negotiating a page rate because I didn’t know what other people were making or what options I had. It was taboo to discuss it with anyone, also. So, I took what they offered me.
Can a page rate of $150-$200 be a good wage? Only if you’re consistently doing 22pgs per book and at least 8 books a year. As I spent most of my current career at Marvel up to this point as a fill-in artist with my best year doing …MAYBE 55 pages …It definitely wasn’t enough to live off of. Especially because I live in California. Yet, I understood that I was paying my dues. So, it was workable as long as I also did work for Hasbro or some other company as a supplement. This also proved difficult because making the deadlines were tough. More cases than not, I did make it work….which kept me working and getting assignments… For a time. I guess….well, I KNOW that’s why a lot of my peers went into animation. Most people who get into comics that I know never wanted to break in to get rich. They just wanted to draw their favorite characters in their favorite comics for their favorite comics companies, but it’s hard to do that when you can’t afford rent.
Artists Title Runs/Fill-In Issues: This is something that’s kind of personal to me as EVERY book I’ve ever done at Marvel I’ve had to share with another artist. Consistency is key and the only way to truly develop a series AND an artist. A book like INVINCIBLE comes to mind. Not counting back-up stories, it’s only had 2 artists on the book. Period. Ryan Ottley developed as an artist because he worked out a LOT of artistic growing pains in those early issues of INVINCIBLE after taking over for Cory Walker. Finding out what worked and what didn’t and chiseling out his own voice over the course of the series completely separate and distinct from Cory’s. Ottley’s contribution to that book is just astounding and his skills as an artist are razor sharp due to his consistency. I strongly believe that wouldn’t have happened if he was jumping around from book to book every 1 or 2 issues to do the occasional fill-in. Each new title an artist works on requires something different from him because every one of them has different needs. I wouldn’t approach Daredevil the same way I’d approach Guardians of the Galaxy and it would take me a minute just to get the basics of the characters, environment, and story beats……and even LONGER to get comfortable and make it my own. If doing a single issue is like putting a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound, then doing a few pages of that issue is like squeezing lemon juice on it. Yet, it is a necessary evil and fill-ins aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (um…ever). As for me, I’ve vowed that I wouldn’t be taking any more fill-in jobs unless I get the entire issue. Though, I DO have a theory on how fill-ins should be done. A nice ratio would be 2 regular artists on a single title i.e. the regular penciler and the regular fill-in penciler…who pencils full fill-in issues. This way the readers will know what to expect and so does the 2 pencilers.
So, those are my personal thoughts on some of the things addressed in the article. At least for the most part.
despite the comics films being hugely popular and breaking all kinds of records, I still get the sense that actually reading comics is still something to be made fun of by the 'cool' crowd. for example, everyone and their mom loved the avengers movie, but I get laughed at or not taken seriously for going to the comic shop. do you ever see that? and if so, why do you think that is?
it is so much better than it used to be. that I can promise you.
The best thing about this never-ending tidal waves of superhero movies and nerd culture pummeling people from every angle is that those who think themselves at ‘cool’ don’t have much alike to stand on anymore.
I went out to dinner with some friends, most of us comic book creators, and one of my wife’s friends husbands was there with us and he was listening to us talk shop and he said: why would I read a comic book? when I could read Nietzsche.
Kelly Sue said: do you read Nietzsche?
he said: no. but I would.
we all looked at him accordingly and went back to talking amongst ourselves. I literally haven’t spoken to this person since.
so don’t hide who you are and don’t let people shame you, that includes idiots on message boards who can’t let other people enjoy themselves. like what you like. enjoy what you enjoy.