Yesterday, I reposted a Facebook post from cartoonist Scott Shaw! in which he railed against page rates and practices at Boom!, specifically over Adventure Time and their collection of covers in one book.
Jamie S Rich wrote;
A lot of great people will be in this book. I hope some cash is going to end up in their pockets, but consider whether or not its really worth you giving the company yours if that isn’t the case. And don’t just answer “But I like ADVENTURE TIME, I think it’s cool!” Particular people make this stuff cool, and when the work they did becomes a success, other people want to hoard the rewards.
Steve Bissette wrote;
Creators Non-Rights Dept: We’re in a non-glorious new era of crap treatment of creators, for sure.
Ex-Boom employye Aaron Sparrow wrote in the comments;
When I was an editor at BOOM and a freelancer would ask for a raise, the mantra from the top was “They should just be glad to be working in comics.” That’s a direct quote. That, and “The only people crazy enough to think you can earn a living as a comic artist are comic artists.”
But ex-EIC Mark Waid added
Why be mad? It’s not like the rates are a surprise. You either agree to do the job for the money offered or you pass. When I was EIC there, I was apologetic about the (even lower) rates and understood when creators passed, but the economic realities of print publishing and comics circulation in 2013 are such that those numbers you quoted, Scott, are “fair.” Sorry. I do agree that a nominal reprint fee for covers would be justified–they should exist–but they’d be tiny. Non-Big-Two publishers aren’t making near enough off any of these books to enable DC/Marvel payouts. Also, why on Earth would any professional willingly produce work without knowing in advance whether or not it’s WFH? How could any professional take a gig on a licensed book and think for one second that it somehow magically WOULDN’T be WFH?”
And while Bongo’s deal is an attractive one, one industry figure pointed out that Bongo’s rates include owning the original artwork boards as well as the right to publish it, so the creator isn’t able to sell the art which can often fetch as much as the rights to publish it cost, or more. Such as this Adventure Time cover, selling for over $600.
Much of the value of the piece includes the fact that it was officially published. I’m told of one inordinately highly valued creator who sold a cover to a publisher for two dollars, but only if was published on one of their franchise books. Once published, he was then able to sell the original art for $40,000.
This doesn’t apply to most people, of course, but it does demonstrate that the market may be a little more complex and there are other factors to consider in how a creator makes a living.