Kaare Andrews On CB Cebulski And The Speed Of Production

At the weekend, CB Cebulski took part in a round table discussion about the comics industry for the Toronto Star. An unexpurgated version later went online.

It caused considerable controversy amongst comics creators, some who wondered exactly who it was selling their art for $5000 a cover, $1000 a page, who wasn’t Jim Lee, Frank Miller or Adam Hughes… and if CB’s recruitment of artists outside the USA that was actively pushing page rates down…

Kaare Andrews was one, however, who wanted to go on the record about the scheduling issue. He writes for Bleeding Cool;

First let me say that I like C.B. and we’re friends.  Now that that’s out of the way, let’s underline how wrong he is.  At least from my perspective.  Let me admit that I’m not the fastest artist in the world.  It can take a long time to draw a page.  In the olden days, you had inkers basically ‘finishing breakdowns’ over Jack Kirby.  That’s how he could push through 4-6 pages in a day.  Kirby’s art was bold.  It was beautiful.  It was awesome.  But I’m not sure he would have as much success in today’s climate.  The truth is that the level of detail demanded on a page has risen dramatically.  Comics aren’t 10 cent disposable newsprints anymore.  They are a legitimate art form.  Paper stock is slick, coloring is high tech, and you can now print as many tones, in as many shades, with as much detail as you can imagine. It’s expected from the fans.

I have never, NEVER, spent a minute more on a page because I thought I could resell it for more money.  The idea is just ridiculous to me.  Many times I don’t even have original art to sell because I’ve chosen to paint completely digitally.  Or, maybe I have digital backgrounds over hand drawn characters.  I can’t even remember having a conversation with another comicbook artist that spent extra time on a page to resell it to an art collector.  I certainly have never had that conversation with Josh Middleton or Steve Skroce.

Look, I’m sure it’s happened.  But not with real artists.  I’ve heard stories of hack artist complaining that he wasn’t drawing Wolverine in costume enough because those pages would be worth more money.  But again, I have never had that conversation.  I’m not fast because I care.  I’m not fast because I want to do great work.  I’m not fast because drawing comics is one of the most demanding artistic professions in the world.  Ask an animation guy how much he draws in a week.  Maybe one character sheet.  Maybe.  They get paid more, have better health insurance, and work less hours in a day.  Same thing in movies.  Same thing in video games.  You don’t draw comics to cash in, you draw comics because you love comics.  And this is from a guy who directs movies for half his days.

Again, this is just my own perspective.  There are still guys that can draw 4 pages in a day.  I can’t name any of them who are doing work I think pushes the medium.  But they are work horses and often loved by fans.  And the truth is, it’s those guys that are making the most money.

Let me repeat this, the utter truth is that more time you spend on a page, the LESS money you make.

Let’s use C.B.’s own math to clarify.  Let’s pretend I’m making $300 a page (a top rate).  Then selling that page for $1000 (walk artist alley and you’ll see most pages sell for $150-200).  If I take a week to draw three pages and then sell them all for $1000 a pop (not a real number but let’s pretend), you are making $3900 a week.  If you are drawing two pages a day, at $300 each, and still selling them for $1000 a pop, you are making $13000 a week.  A fan isn’t going to pay more for a page because you spent two days drawing a detailed cityscape.  They are going to buy a page that has the hero they love doing something that’s important.  Sure, splash pages are worth more but a splash page you spent a week on isn’t going to be worth any more than a splash page you spent an afternoon on.  And two thirds of all pages will never sell, because they don’t have heroes they love, doing important things.

Again.  Truth time.  Let me tell you about a conversation I HAVE HAD with my comic artist friends, “If I was to spend as little time and effort on a page as possible and draw something JUST good enough so that I could blow through a few pages a day, I would be making a lot more money than a guy who really cared about his work…. but I just can’t do it.”

Just another perspective.

Talking to Bleeding Cool CB Cebulski replied to Kaare, saying;

You’ll get no argument from me here. What Kaare says is on the money. He’s right. It’s why he’s had such success in comics and all forms of entertainment he’s touched. As have other artists. My comments were just one example for the possible lateness we see these days. One part of a larger conversation. Kaare presents another here. And there are plenty more out there.