Lots of comic book artists take private commissions for work, often using trademarked characters they’ve worked on, often charging hundreds, even thousands of dollars. It can pay better than a publisher page rate, and the more successful you are as a comic artist, the more you can charge.
But over the last few years, there seems to have been an increase in the amount of commissions that just aren’t being delivered, or delayed for years. Artists take on more than their schedule allows, their regular work takes precedence, and those who have paid upfront are left hanging. Some customers seem unwilling to talk openly, afraid it will affect the quality of the work, or its eventual arrival. But sometimes it spills out publicly.
Take the comic art message board is a comic statue forum. Where the artist Jason Craig, known for his work on Wildstorm and Dynamite comics, currently artist on Evil Ernie, posted his appeal, this time last year. It all went wrong, for him and for his commissioners, and a year later no one seems to have received a completed piece, though we’ve seen an unfinished Zatanana piece aboce, with Craig citing sick relatives, his own sickness, raising five kids, house troubles, money being stolen from him, splitting up with his partner but keeping her debt, losing his house, living in a lot, and losing his Paypal and bank account.
Which doesn’t of course change the fact that he accepted money for services he has been unable to deliver.
But he’s not alone here, although the reasons he cites seem to be rather extreme in comparison. There are more and more artists it seems, who are willing to take on commissions on top of their scheduled work without fully thinking through how they can fit it all in… or sometimes just not even caring. I’ve covered a number in the past but I’m starting to encounter more and more.
And with Christmas coming up and people trying to plan that special gift, be warned, it’s just possible you might not even get it for next Christmas…