Once again, much ado is being made about the wages of comic book creators.
It isn’t anything that I haven’t said before, and it isn’t anything that anyone who’s been trying to make comics for any decent amount of time doesn’t already know: there isn’t any real money to be made in comics. Not as a living wage.
The problem is a matter of appearance. Comics appear to dominate the landscape of entertainment: movies, of course, and television. If you’re collecting comics, you know the names of your favorite creators, you know the titles of the books, but you don’t know how those creators are living. They have the appearance of fame, but they don’t have the perks that come with it.
Who’s more famous: Mark Waid or Jack Black?
My point exactly.
Comic book conventions and the pervasiveness of comics in current media gives the appearance that creators make a lot of money in comics. There are extremely few that are making any real money in comics as creators. Once you kick out the extreme outliers such as Kirkman and Bendis, you’ve still got an entire echelon of creators who are making a living at comics. But those numbers are dwindling, and there aren’t many who are coming up to take their place.
Comics aren’t like music or even novels. You can get royalties from music and novels. If you’re not at Marvel or DC, though, the chances of your book getting collected and then re-sold and you getting a royalty are slim to none. Image is different. At Image, you’re an independent contractor. That means it’s on you to do the work, unless you’ve got a team working for you. And then you have to worry about reorders and keeping stock and reissues and getting different covers done over the years and working up trade dress and…and…and…
And depending on the contract, some of that money isn’t yours. If you were able to somehow work out a back-end deal, then most of that money isn’t yours. The creative team needs to be paid in more than just appreciation. Everyone needs to eat.
Go into this with your eyes open. Go into this because you have a story to tell. Go into this because you love the medium. If you try to do it for any other reason, you’re going to find yourself bitterly disappointed.