1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Most Independent Comic book writers don't do enough.

Discussion in 'Fantasy Art' started by Annoyingkid, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,518
    3,034
    313
    That's 1/3 of an 8 hour day, times 22 pages...... or 58 hours a month.


    .... vs. 50 - 400 hours to critique an entire book.

    ^ First, to be blunt, I have flat out said before that it's not appropriate to ask this much work of another writer without pay or returning the favor in-kind. It is not appropriate to expect somebody to do the work of an editor pro-bono.

    Still, a comic that comes out monthly means that you're asking somebody to do 58 hours per month. People do not expect you to do 58 hours of work per month on somebody else's book. If a book takes a year to write, and you're critiquing is ongoing throughout the process, then divide by twelve and it's more like 4 to 33 hours of work per month.

    But again, if you're the writer, and the other person is a critiquer, that relationship is easy. They give you feedback, and if you don't like it you can shrug your head and ignore it. But if you're the writer, and the other person is an artist, what happens if you don't like some of the artwork? So it's actually, 58 hours plus friction. Some teams work well together and handle that friction without a problem. But it adds immensely to the risks involved here.

    But then you have to compare that to how much work went into writing 100k words, versus how much goes into planning a 22 page comic, and consider how the artist is going to feel about that comparison.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2017
  2. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    2,994
    1,726
    163
    You say "someone else's book" like the artist isn't going to be given anything in return. Like I said, there has to be a a match up of the artist believing in the writer's vision and the writer sharing ownership of the property. If that happens, it's not any different than any other business partnership. It's not just the artist doing everything for free.

    For example, some voice actors will do work on audio books for a share of the profits instead of an upfront payment.

    Why can't a comic book be an ongoing process too? The artist draws a few rough concept pages and gets feed back and then makes adjustments based on said feedback before committing any significant time to a finished product. You make it sound like the artist finishes the book before getting any feedback. There should be back and forth going on from character concept sketches to how the world will look and feel.

    Just as critquer and writer have to build a relationship, so do artist and writers. If it doesn't work for either of the parties, they go their separate ways.

    Most of this stuff should be hammered out before either party enters into the partnership fully. The artist doesn't do the whole book without feedback. As mentioned above, concept sketches will be involved, which don't take long, so the writer will know what the artist is thinking, and they can see if their visions mesh or at the very least if there's room for compromise. If there's no meeting of the minds here, then they shouldn't be working together.

    I mean what artist will enter into a relationship with a writer blindly. Same with a writer. Why would anyone work with an artist if they don't have a firm idea of what they're going to deliver.

    It's just like the writer editor relationship. If the editor doesn't share the same vision or belief in the story as the writer, then they shouldn't be editing that book.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  3. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,518
    3,034
    313
    I'm not sure that you understood the point I was making Penpilot.

    A book takes a year to write, so if you look at how much work a critiquer does over the course of a year, it's 4 to 33 hours based on your 50-400 hour estimates (for the record, I would've said about 45 minutes per 3,000 words, which comes to an even 25 hours for the whole book, because it's unreasonable to expect somebody to do the work of an editor for you).

    A comic book doesn't usually stop with one issue. It's one issue per month, at 58 hours per month, over let's say a year.

    So you're comparing 4 to 33 hours per month for a year vs. 58 hours per month for a year.

    But maybe that's unreasonable. If a comic sells for $3 an issue, and a book sells for let's say $9, maybe it's better to run it over three months. So 58 hours per month for a comic book, and 16 to 133 hours per month for a book, to create $9 worth of storytelling.

    So art for a webcomic, compared to a critique, is a huge ask, even at your estimates. And I mean, your numbers are fine for a chapter or two, but I have trouble thinking anybody is going to agree to critique a book if it's so poor that it will take them 400 hours, which is ten weeks of full-time work.

    Of course, the expectation is a split in the profits, I do understand that. A better comparison isn't a critiquer but a ghostwriter. Penpilot, would you be willing to write a story if I laid it out for you? We'll split the profits. (Also, I'm dead serious, if you'd actually do it.)
     
  4. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    Sharing ownership of the property doesn't pay the bills. For a start I doubt these guys sign any formal legally binding contract. Any artist who is told that they'll be rewarded down the road with a share of ownership of the franchise or project would do well to run, because it's a scam.

    That's fine, as long as the writer pays for every additional adjustment. Because that is taking more of the artist's time. And time is money. Unfortunately that typically doesn't happen, and these writers think they can get a free ride by befriending the artist first. They make a script thats looser than a film script and argue the artist into strengthening the writing through art design. Which is partially why they get bailed on so much.

    They probably shouldn't be working together period. The extreme difficulty and cost involved indicates that independent writer/artist collaborations aren't feasible. What Stan Lee did was in an earlier time where the industry was expanding and fresh and things were not as done and closed off as they are now the industry is contracting. Back then you could make a Something-man and get away with it. Not so today. It boggles my mind the time they spend on the nigh fruitless search for an artist and hoping they stick with it, that they don't just use the time to learn how to draw or write in prose instead. They don't because they want the easy way while whining how they don't get the same recognition of people who actually work their asses off. To which I have to say:

    Quit whining and suffer!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2017
  5. No one, not even comic book artists/writers, deserve to suffer. Everyone deserves love and kindness, no matter who they are or where they come from or what they look like.
     
  6. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    It's the people who suffer who become successful. As in go through the hard work and extreme practice it takes to master an artform. The sacrifices involved. People who want an easy ride should go play nintendo instead.
     
    Russ likes this.
  7. Um...but what if you do both, like me? [Go through hard work and practice and still play nintendo?]
     
  8. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    The point is, on that forum alone you see many comic writers making topics asking about how to find an artist and taking about how they can't draw. When one sees the word can't it just means they don't want to do whatever it takes. Fine. In that case pay the artist a page rate : Don't want to do that either. Too expensive. Then make the script extremely detailed and tight, and submit it to publishers like Dark horse comics. Don't want to do that. They want to spend the time hanging around DeviantArt messaging people trying to get a half decent artist to be inspired enough to draw something for free or cheap.
     
  9. Russ

    Russ Istar

    2,163
    1,127
    163
    It appears you have either missed the point or are trolling AK with this post.

    His point about people's unwillingness to work hard, suffer and sacrifice to achieve real success is an important one, and not considered nearly as often as it should be.
     
  10. ^I'm sincerely sorry if I have offended anyone. I'll stay out of discussions like this. I'm always too nice or too joke-y. Thank you.
     
  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    2,994
    1,726
    163
    Yes, the comic takes more time, but like I said the artist should be getting a significant stake in the property vs say a free copy of the book and a Starbucks card for critiquing.

    Like I said, to me, it's no different than someone approaching you with a side project/business opportunity related to your primary field. Based on your relationship with the person, and how they present themselves, you determine if the project is worth your investment in time.


    I made a similar offer to one of my oldest friends. We'd work the ideas for the story together, and I'd do all the grunt work in actually writing the prose. We didn't get beyond the concept stage, because we discovered we're incompatible in our visions of a story and how we like to work.

    As for if you had made me the offer, I would only ghost write if I was paid a upfront fee, because from the way you make it sound, I don't own any of the rights to that property, so I wouldn't have any say in how it was marketed, distributed, etc. A big exception to an offer like this would be if it was coming from someone representing an established franchise like say Star Wars or Warhammer, where there was more certainty in it.

    Now if it was a partnership instead, I'd consider it if I believed in the story, we were compatible in the way we work, AND if there was a reasonable distribution of duties. For example if you did all the layouts for the ebook, did/or paid for the cover art and shared in the editing duties, and I had in writing that I owned a significant portion of the property and it was laid out how the profits were to be shared and when.

    Some of this could be negotiated, but regardless, I wouldn't just do it for any stranger walking off the street with an idea.

    I mean if all you had was half a page of scribbles with a vague story idea, I'd probably go all squinty-eyed and say no. But if you had a reasonably detailed outline laying out each scene, each plot thread, and for the most part, all I would have to do was write it out, it wouldn't be unreasonable in my eyes.

    Bringing this back around to comics, if all a 'writer' had was a few scribbles and called it a script, it would be an unreasonable ask. But if they had reasonably detailed script, that showed me they knew what they were doing, and that they were serious about the enterprise, then I don't think it's unreasonable. It'd be an opportunity, but obviously not one without risk. And the artist would have to determine if it was a risk worth taking.
     
    Dark Squiggle and Devor like this.
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

    2,676
    1,785
    163
    I've been doing some reading, various interviews and advice blogs, for aspiring comic book writers and artists, and one common denominator seems to be: Expect to be poor for a long time. Heh. Actually, the common theme seems to be: Get your work "out there" so you can leverage that work in finding a publisher that will take you on (whether one of the big publishers or an independent publisher.) Basically, you need finished work that can catch the eye of a prospective buyer/employer, and this could well mean that the short term payoff is not a paycheck or a steady stream of income so much as having an actual portfolio. For the aspiring comic book artist—and I would assume, aspiring comic book writers—having a day job will probably be necessary for quite some time. The day job could involve creating art or writing outside the comic book industry.

    So....I'm not exactly sure this discussion about who puts in what level of work, and the economic payoff or lack thereof, entirely hits the mark. At least for the newest of beginners. Artist and writer could be developing portfolios with the expectation of a larger payoff farther in the future.

    This is not to say that advice previously given in this thread is unsound. Obviously, getting the work "out there" means having something that shows both art and writing, i.e., finished products in that medium. And the aspiring writer may be at a disadvantage because, well, comic books require art heh. The aspiring comic book artist can probably show off her talent as an artist even if the writing for those completed pieces isn't stellar. [Although I wonder whether the art might be viewed in a better light if the accompanying story is good.]

    Robert Kirkman mentions the writer's dilemma in the video below:

    "When you're trying to write comics, specifically, what a writer has to do is be able to make comics, and a writer by themselves can't make comics....

    ....You have to find an artist somehow."

    He offers quick examples that aren't exactly the "pay highly" route for finding an artist, but the method isn't particularly important compared to the simple fact that an artist is necessary, heh. He also suggests writing scenes, or short 5-page sections, that can demonstrate writing ability. Again, this seems to be coming from the perspective of getting your work out there to entice a publisher. Finding an artist willing to commit less time for such endeavors might be easier. Possibly, cheaper.

    You could do a web comic by yourself, or visit various comic cons and set up a booth (expensive, but if you have something to show and sell that you've managed to create, then you are getting your work in front of eyes), and generally try to get independent publishers to take a chance on you on your way to becoming established. Maybe one-off graphic novels or short comic trilogies or whatever would be good too (i.e., rather than hook a writer to stick around for a long-running comic book series.) [Edit: This last para is my addition, not so much from the vid.]

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
    Penpilot likes this.
  13. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,518
    3,034
    313
    Okay, that's fair. If you as a writer could see yourself coming to that kind of partnership with someone, it makes sense that an artist might, too. I know that I personally find it easy to visualize and plan out a story even in detail but harder to make myself push through words on a page. Perhaps I'm biased because of how I see my own strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
     
  14. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,518
    3,034
    313
    ^ This makes sense to me. Getting an artist for a comic might be lopsided, but for a few pages, it's a good portfolio and a chance to see how well you work together.
     
  15. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    You'd need a lawyer present or else they could just say they didn't write that. Also there's a chance the writer takes your hard work and does nothing with it for a long time. A very long time. The idea of being promised " part ownership" is a scam.
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    7,518
    3,034
    313
    Email signatures exchanges hold up just fine in court.
     
  17. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    You could be interacting with someone on the complete other side of the world. You can't go to court for being scammed by Nigerian 419, you're not taking some Bolivian or Chinese or whatever who uses your hard work in their own country. It's insane to do all that work for a promise of part ownership down the road when you haven't even met the person.
     
  18. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    2,994
    1,726
    163
    I've gone to google and here's what I found.

    This is from comic writer who has worked for Marvel and DC, and it's a description of his general process and shows what exactly a comic writer does.

    Plot to Script: This is How I Do It | Cullen Bunn


    And here are some links that give the range on how much an artist can expect to make, to give an idea of what it means dollarwise to product art for a comic. Obviously grain of salt on the sources, but they all seem to line up.

    How Much Does a Comic Book Artist Make Per Project? | Chron.com

    Cashing In On Comic Books: How Creator Page Rates Have Changed Over Time

    Being a cartoonist by the numbers?and the numbers are ugly ? The Beat

    average pay rates for comic book artists: by johnchalos on DeviantArt

    http://brianchurilla.tumblr.com/post/121294649150/so-you-want-to-be-a-comic-book-artist-heres

    https://fairpagerates.com/year-in-review-2015-survey-results/


    From what I glean artist can expect to make between $220 to $4,400 per book project. This is obviously dependant on skill level and reputation. This means they make $10 to $200 per page. In one of the articles a working artist says they get paid a decent rate which was $125 per page, which lands him right in the middle of that range per book project.

    If you're an artist starting out, unless you're exceptional, I don't think you'll be making the top rate. I remember reading that $50 per page when you're starting out is a really good rate, so I'm taking that to mean that at lot start at even less, hence that very bottom end range $10 per page.

    If you can't go after them for stealing your work then wouldn't it go the other way too. I'm half-joking here, but if the work is already done and you have the original art, the script, then couldn't you just take all that and put the book out yourself? I'm not sure if it's the wisest thing, but you could sure put a damper on their potential profits if you release the book for free on the web.

    On a more serious note, even if you get to meet people face to face there's potential for problems. There are plenty of stories of comic book artists, writers, etc. not getting paid for their work because the company folded, and if you're starting out, chances are you'll be working for small companies, or individuals who are running shoe string operations.

    I mean how many regular titles do companies like Marvel, DC and Darkhorse produce, maybe around 100 each?

    So that's probably around 300 month to month steady work jobs in the big leagues. Maybe raise that to around 500 if you count the smaller companies that are very stable. Now how many artists are banging at the doors to get in? I'm thinking way more than that. In terms of job slots, that's more exclusive than most professional sports leagues like the NHL or NFL.

    So I'm thinking Fifthview's post on needing to get out there and show what you can do is pretty relevant.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
  19. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    341
    112
    43
    Absolutely. Which is why the way to do such collaboration if you really want to is for the writer to have already submitted a proposal to the publisher, for the publisher to accept it on the condition of finding an artist, for the writer to find the artist, for the artist to accept then give their details to the publisher, and for the three of them to have the part ownership deal confirmed.

    The other way is for the writer to pay the artist a page rate and additional payment for edits. The artist may risk losing their short scripts, but that's the way it is. Write another. Sue the artist IF you find out about it and if you can.

    These are the only two scenarios that qualifies as serious business. The third of course being if you do the story and art yourself.

    Besides those scenarios, anything else should be instantly dismissed. Which is what's happening.
     
  20. Uffda

    Uffda Scribe

    31
    8
    8
    Sorry, it's not true. At least for marvel and DC (perhaps not so much for indies), there is a very extensive creative team that starts with an editor, who is responsible for assembling said team. Which does in include more than one writer and one artist.

    That's not writing, that stage direction. Actual writing tells an artist to draw Spider-man opening a can of soda because it is important somehow to the story.
     

Share This Page