Monday, February 8, 2010

What Are Artists Worth?

Over at CosmicBookNews, comic writer  Mike Luoma has been writing a column called Making It Up, about his experiences creating comics on his own and with artist collaborators.  A few weeks ago he wrote Shut Up and Put Out Yer Comic Book! -- a call to arms giving nutshell basics to creating a comic and getting it out there.

Due to the limited space, the column delivered pretty broad but generally helpful advice... Talk to the artist in your own voice being one prime example.

Writing dialogue, you write in the voices of your characters. That's a given. But your descriptions of each panel should be in YOUR voice. Your panel descriptions are one-way conversations with your artist, whoever they will be. Talk to them, and do your best to describe everything they need to see to tell the story. If you have to give away the ending so that the art is correct in the first panel, do it. Don't surprise your artist. And always remember you are describing static action, not movement. Movement is implied between the frames...

Mike posted a link to his post over at LinkedIn, a business networking site that is finding more comic book people signing on. The response to the LinkedIn was furious focused primarily on one sentence, which has since been removed from the original post.

Basically, Mike was saying that unless it's a true (and by that I mean, pre-negotiated and agreed upon) partnership or collaboration, you should assume you'll be paying your artist. Mike suggested $50 as a fair figure.  Since I knew the article was not an in-depth how to guide, I understood that to mean Mike was just trying to say, be fair to your artist. But reaction was swift as artists took issue with Mike insisting upon such a low page rate.

Soon, the chat exploded into a lengthy exchange discussing everything from status of the artist, work for hire, context and being up front in all business dealings. I commend all the contributors to the talk for being able (eventually) to move past their initial, emotional responses and move on to passionate debate and civil discussion.

I had planned to provide an overview of the discussion but Mike himself has gone further, providing a blow by blow account of the debate for your enjoyment, with extensive quotes.

You can read it all at Making It Up! - Part 13 - What's An Artist Worth?.

All the points are well worth considering if you're thinking of putting out a comic book.  My takeaway? Be up front and honest in all dealings, realistic in your expections, and save the raging passion for the work not for negotiations.

And waht the hey.  Check out some of Mike's work... Panthea Obscura, Red Hot and Lady Fight: Escalation.

As for how to find artists, writer Liz Argall has  afew suggestionsover at her blog post, How to find a comics artist part 1.

For another persepctive on artists working for free, read these the three articles by Mark Evanier, Unfinanced Entrepreneurs (part one starts here).

Beavers Up! 

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