Year in Review, 2015 Survey Results

The goal of this survey is to build a resource that allows creators to have more information about standard rates in the comics industry. We also hope this data will encourage more professionals not to accept work that pays below certain standards.

For practical reasons, survey responses are gathered from any comics professionals who choose to take the survey. This means the data is based on a non-representative sample — there is potential for a self-selection bias, meaning that the people who choose to participate might be more likely to have certain perspectives or traits, and therefore not be representative of the “population.” That said, self-selection sampling is a widely used and accepted research method of non-probability sampling.

The data below was gathered anonymously from a sample size of 127 comics professionals. The data represents a resource in the process of being built — given the small and non-representative sample, we are not drawing conclusions or interpreting the data at this point. We will continue collecting surveys about 2015 rates until July 2016, and these results will be updated quarterly. It is worth repeating that the more people who participate, the more useful this data will be for all creators in the industry. 
Next update: July 2016.

Archie Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $100  $35  —
Cover  $500  —  —
Inker $55  —  —
Penciler  $95  $70  —

Boom!

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $35  $25  $26.40 (6)
Cover  $300  $100  $143.75 (8)
Line Art  $175  $20  $89 (25)
Colour  $75  $20  $28.75 (12)
Letters  $75  $5 *  —
Flats  $10  —  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours)  $175  $40  $117.78 (9)

 

*”Color: $5 extra on pages that I had penciled and inked — Boom! Studios”

Dark Horse

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $200  $20  $98 (5)
Cover  $800  $500  —
Line Art  $300  $100  $203.58 (7)
Colour  $100  —  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $275 $5 ($500/100 pp)  —

DC Comics

 

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $150  $90  $111 (5)
Cover  $400  —  —
Line Art  $650  $210  $352 (7)
Colour  $200 (cover)  $135  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours)  $315  $300  —

 

Dynamite

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $95  —
Cover  $300  —
Line Art  $200  $100  $145 (4)

IDW Publishing

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $75  $65  —
Cover  $350  $200  —
Line Art  $200  $100  —
Colour  $50  —  —

Image Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Colour  $200  $40  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours)  —  $66.67 ($8000/120 pp)  —

Marvel Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $120  $30  $81.43 (7)
Cover  $650  $450  —
Line Art  $700  $200  $372 (8)
Colour  $150  $80  —

Oni Press

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Cover  $300  —  —
Colour  $60  $50  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours)  $300  $13  $103.38 (8)

Valiant

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $110  $60  —
Cover  $400  $350  —
Line Art  $250  $235*  —

*including colour art


 

Lowest Reported Page Rates by Publisher, 2015 *

  1. Dark Horse Comics, Total Art + Script – $5 ($500/100 pp)
  2. Oni Press, Total Art + Script – $13
  3. Boom! Studios

*Sample size of 128 respondents


Survey Questions

“Are there any particular publishers you will not work for, or have been warned about?”

Summary: 

Blue Water – does not pay
Boom! Studios – stressful professional relationship, low page rates, nevertheless friendly editorial
Dark Horse – shields sexual harassers
Zenescope – late payment

Bluewater

  1. “Blue Water: non-payment.”
  2. “I’ll never work for Bluewater (or whatever they’re calling themselves now), because I think their practices are predatory of inexperienced and/or desperate creators.”
  3. “I frequently hear complaints about Blue Water not paying anything to the talent they hire.”
  4. “Bluewater and Zenescope.”
  5. “Bluewater, They do not appear to pay,”
  6. “Bluewater, Does not pay on time, or at all,”
  7. “Bluewater/Storm. They don’t pay.”
  8. “BlueWater Productions/Comics aka Storm Comics – They do not pay and when I worked for them, they falsified sales numbers to different creators to “prove” there was no profits to pay them.”

BOOM! Studios 

  1. “I’ve been warned about Boom. The people (editorial) seem good there, but they treat their artists as disposable and funnel all the money toward guest covers and writers from other media.”
  2. “Ironically, I’ve been extensively warned about BOOM. They pay low and will burn through creators if they start pushing for more money. Despite their “Push Comics Forward” campaign and outward facing good PR, they can’t seem to hold a good standing in the comics undercurrent due to their often considered callous business practices.”
  3. “Have heard that Boom and Dynamite both pay poorly.”
  4. “BOOM because they don’t pay on time and pay very little”
  5. “IDW and Kaboom. Both companies offer very very low rates for licensed work, as well as very tough work-for-hire contracts. Both companies have also reproduced artists’ work on other products (advertising, merchandise, etc.) without due compensation to said artist.”
  6. “BOOM is a nightmare as far as knowing when you’ll get paid, but they do eventually get around to it.”
  7. “Boom Studios — I have been told by friends that generally Boom Studios pays less than $25 / page for writers, which is far below my standard page rate,”
  8. “BOOM! Studios creates a harsh environment to first time talent.”
  9. “Hoping to end my relationship with Boom! in 2016, not out of malice but I can’t keep working for 30/pp when flatters cost 15/pp. The only way to make that profitable is to flat myself & double my hours or to triple my books. Either one leaves me no time to be a human being.”
  10. “Boom. Low page rates, terrible editorial (good people, bad communication). I’ve heard lots of bad stories about the way they treat creators too.”
  11. “I’m trying to distance myself from Boom! studios though after x years working on “___” … Beyond that I will probably not be associated with them due to poor page rates, being paid late if paid at all, and a myriad of other questionable practices that make working for them difficult at best and toxic at worst.” *
  12. “Boom!, because the artists don’t share rights; NBM/Papercutz, because I had to hound them for royalties; Image, because a lot of reasons; Abrams, unprofessional and abusive editorial staff, “
  13. “BOOM! Studios, because the rate doesn’t justify the stress,”
  14. “Not so much that I won’t work for them, but Boom and Dynamite have reputations for crappy pay.”
  15. “I am consistently warned about Boom Studios by people who both currently work for them and have worked for them in the past. Low pay, ridiculously late payment, lack of credit and terrible pay for colorists, forcing a lot of work on their artists in short periods of time.”
  16. “Boom – Did work for them twice. Had to hunt them down to get paid. First time around took almost 3 months.”
  17. “I have been warned and warned others about Boom, but continue to work with them. The editor’s hearts are in the right place but they either have too much going on or are just not good at their jobs – communication is very spotty. Have to follow up about payment often to get it, etc.”
  18. “I’ve been warned about boom since the beginning. I tend to take lower rates with them when I have no other jobs at the moment. However, I’m looking to work with other publishers and have recently gotten an agent.”
  19. “I won’t work for Boom again because getting paid was a complete hassle. Never once in the 6 months my contract lasted did I get paid on time (the ‘earliest’ was 3 days after I was supposed to have the money, the latest was 11 days after, and there were always excuses)”
  20. “Boom, not worth the hassle. Chews up young artists. I also would not reccomend joining Hiveworks for your webcomics. Inexperienced staff with too much on their plates.”
  21. “BOOM! – low pay, bad communication, won’t pay in a timely manner”
  22. “Boom! are consistently late with payments, have poor communication and generally shady practices. At some points they have actively lied to me to try and cover up their poor behaviour.”
  23. “Boom because of bad pay on work for hire, changing art without permission, and predatory contracts on creator owned.”
  24. “Boom Pays poorly, doesn’t give artists paper to work on, pays no royalties on their (very succesful) books,”
  25. “I haven’t worked for many publishers, but I’m distancing myself from BOOM! Studios because the deadlines are hell, the pay is terrible and often late/requires hounding. It’s really too bad because the editorial staff is very easy to work with.”
  26. “I don’t plan on working with Boom again. The page rates are less than minimum wage, and there are no royalties,”
  27. “I will not work for Boom again, aside from insulting low pay, they also were awful communicators and very unprofessional. I feel they’re exploiting younger artists.”
  28. “I will probably never work for Boom due to low rates, weird contracts and bad pay.”
  29. “I worked for BOOM! Studios back when they started doing all-ages licensed comics and they were the most toxic publisher I have ever worked with. I will never work for them again & will warn other creators not to. Any publisher who has a high-profile licensed property with strict approval standards needs to pay their talent proportionally to meet those standards.”
  30. “Everyone warns each other about Boom with their incredibly low pay. It’s not a living wage by a long stretch, which is a shame as their books are generally of a really good quality.”
  31. “I’ve heard terrible things about Boom. Though they have a lot of IPs I would love to work with, I hear they pay horrible wages and treat their creators like they’re expendable. Not sure how true that last part is, but I’d rather not be horribly underpaid.”
  32. “Boom – rates. And they just churn through new colorists that will work for peanuts,”
  33. “Boom- Low page rates coupled with writers not sharing rights- sometimes- and sometimes not understanding why they should share rights- you wouldn’t want to work with *those* ppl as they don’t appreciate or understand your contribution and they are transparent exploiters..”
  34. “Boom- Low page rates coupled with writers not sharing rights- sometimes- and sometimes not understanding why they should share rights- you wouldn’t want to work with *those* ppl as they don’t appreciate or understand your contribution and they are transparent exploiters..”
  35. “Boom Studios. Horrible talent relations. Late payment. No negotiation room in rates.”
  36. “Archaia (now absorbed by BOOM) has a bad track-record when it comes to payment and property. People have waited a full year for minor payments. Their contracts used to (I am unaware of current situation) include final vetoes that can dissolve the author’s right to veto the publisher’s decisions regarding spin-offs, etc. This renders the list of author’s rights for the publisher to honor as utterly hypothetical.”
  37. “Boom Studios for low page rates and poor communication (so disappointing, they hired a lot of queer/young/female talent with boom box and the corellation feels almost predatory)”
  38. Boom! they’re absolutely terrible at communicating with (or even acknowledging) their artists and they pay dreadful rates for freelance artwork that yields no royalties.

Darkhorse Comics

  1. “Dark Horse – Shielding sex harassers (although hoping for changes now that they copped up to some of it so who knows what happens)”
  2. “Dark Horse because they shelter sexual abusers”
  3. “I will not work for Dark Horse because of its track record for sexual assault and harassment.”

Oni Press

  1. “I will never work for Oni. If you refuse their boiler plate contract, they tie you up in contract revisions until you give up and go away. BOOM! Nice editors, but are not interested in artists controlling the projects they pitch without bringing in their own writers. Dark Horse Scott Allie has blocked me for years, and has since been replaced with another alcoholic with even less scruples.”

DC/Marvel Comics

  1. “Marvel – for secret reasons and also if you give work to Nathan Edmondson after finding out about his shit I won’t work for you and also more secret reasons. DC – Shielding sex harassers, secret reasons.”
  2. “Marvel and DC both pay well but are not as much fun to work for as one would have hoped for.”
  3. “Marvel/DC because they fuck up constantly and seems like a toxic and inflexible work environment,”
  4. “I have chosen not to work for DC and Marvel because of the way they have treated many of their foundational creators (particularly Bill Finger, Siegel and Shuster, Alan Moore and Jack Kirby). However, that’s a personal decision and I can see no reason why somebody else shouldn’t work for them; my choice is more about my own conscience than their (current) working practices. My own experiences with both companies back in the day were quite positive and I believe they treat their current creators well on the whole,”
  5. “I’ll no longer write for DC because upper management and much of editorial (especially the Superman office) are either incompetent or abusive.”
  6. “I was told by a high-ranking Marvel person that I wouldn’t be hired because I had no proven track record in other industry. He’d never seen my resume, or known that I regularly held an audience of 175K plus in another industry, which is what he said he wanted, but it’s all good. I heard a rumor that DC strung a guy along with multiple super-detailed pitches that went nowhere, then when he went in to meet with them the editor visibly blanched and never called him again (the writer in question is Black).”
  7. Not interested in working for Marvel/DC. Their rights management is abhorrent.

Tokyopop

  1. “Tokyopop, Asylum Press, most “back-end” and all “you pay for printing” publishers,”
  2. “I’ve been warned about every publisher really.. Tokyopo sounded the worst, but I remember many warnings about Boom as well. They do not pay their artists enough for stressful deadlines and are always late on payment”
  3. “Tokyopop, A myriad of problems regarding rights and payment”
  4. “Tokyopop. Very low page rate, and bad deal on rights (basically no control even with partial ownership)”
  5. “Tokyopop, idiots who post job classifieds wanting 500 page graphic novels cranked out for the “amazing” sum of $5000. Two years’ work at indentured servant rates? Yeah, no thanks.”
  6. “Tokyopop because of the “shared copyright” train wreck of the 2000s”

Zenescope

  1. “Zenescope has a bad track record when it comes to paying artists. I would never work for them.”
  2. “Zenoscope. – I have been informed by several people who worked for them as artists that they take an excessively long time (more than 2 months) in order to pay you after the work is completed, and that you will often have to really harass them in order to be paid at all.”
  3. “I will not work with Zenescope again. It took them 2 years and me threatening them for them to pay me.I’ve had bad experiences with DC comics, last minute cancellations etc.,”
  4. “Zenescope, doesn’t pay. Black Mask, terrible communication, slow or no pay. Blue water, no pay.”
  5. “Zenescope based on a previous bad experience. Bluewater and Antarctic Press because of questionable business practices regarding hiring talent and pay.”
  6. “Zenescope for non-payment, boom and dynamite for low rates.”
  7. “Zenescope – had to fight tooth and nail for several years to get paid. Was threatened and bullied by one of the owners.”

Misc: 

  • Avatar – I just wouldn’t
  • “Dynamite, do not pay well, lack of considerationBlue Water, do not pay,”
  • Devils Due: Late Payment.
    Alterna: Difficult to work with.”
  • “4th dimension entertainment- predatory behavior,”
  • “Archie Comics,”
  • “I heard that Aspen doesn’t pay on time, and that you have to meet them in person at conventions to get the to pay.
  • “Boom Studios.”
  • “Alterna Comics, DC,”
  • “Zenescope, Low rate. Late payment, Boom!Studios. Also low rate (they offer $50 for a new comer –pencil and ink)SLOW payment (around at least 30 days if not more)”
  • “mark millar… didn’t pay for clint submissions,”
  • “Not a publisher I haven’t heard a bad thing about. Waiting to hear some good experiences. Think it’s always a trade-off: rights is something I would like to hear about. Given those up for very little.”
  • “Bluewater, I’ve heard as low as 20 a page for line art. Even Zenescope I think doesn’t sell enough books to justify its own existence if 50-60 is really the best they can do for their artists.”
  • “Marvel – because they stole from “____”.” *
  • “Lion Forge. They have changed deadline dates (by 6 months) and page rates midway through a project I’ve worked on for them. Their contracts are terrible and I feel that they are a very dishonest company. They were the worst client I’ve ever had and I’ve been working in the arts (animation, graphic design, comics) since 2001.KaBoom. I’ve done work for them for a couple of years. They cancel stories without notice (offering a non negotiable kill fee) and are generally very unorganized. They also pay very poorly. $135 a page for writing, penciling , inking, coloring, and lettering.”
  • “I will work with anyone that does not have artwork with nudity or profanity in their comic content.”
  • “Nomad Press. They booted me off a low-paying project ($10/illustration), only grudgingly paid me a $180 kill fee, and then continued to use a misspelled version of my name for several years to promote the book.”
  • “I refuse to do further work with Abrams Books as they went in breach of contract. Talking with others who have worked with/for them. it seems they consistently treat their artists poorly and underpay them ($70/page for pencils, inks, and colour) with the promise of royalties that never come about.”
  • Any of the bigger lower paying ones that have a bad reputation for paying little and not respecting women.
  • 4DE publishing- Steals rights to Artist’s IP and has a disgusting manager. Boom! Studios- Pays artists criminally low if they can and prey on young naive artists to have them accept lower page rates. Although the editorial staff is friendly and generally nice- their business practices and the way the company treats it’s artists leaves a lot to be desired. Mostly, *anything* to be desired.
  • Every publisher has a downside, sadly that’s the state of working in comics right now. – Boom! refuses to raise page rates no matter how long you’ve worked for them and that feels like a slap in the face.
    • – Boom! is consistently a good 3+ months late with their payments, and sometimes will only process invoices after multiple emails asking about it.
    • – Papercutz has the most unprofessional editorial experience I have ever dealt with. They pay somewhat on time but it’s honestly not worth the stress.
    • – Papercutz often will not give a clear deadline then expects the work suddenly without having said when, which is unprofessional and extremely stressful. Cancels projects at the last minute without apology, though will compensate for work already done.
  • Marvel, sloppy editorial, late payment, abusive editors Boom!, low pay IDW, crooked contracts, abusive editors, coercive behavior DC Comics, abusive editors
  • Onipress – extremely low page rate Tokyopop – little to non-existent creator rights or respect Boom – it depends, but I wouldn’t mind them as a stepping stone for a first time artist (especially an artist living outside the states, where the poor page rate in US dollars becomes quite a lot of money due to currency exchange). Nobody can work with them full time with the rates they provide though.
  • Many people have told me to warn everyone from Bluewater. Tokyopop has screwed friends of mine, and has a reputation for having predatory contacts towards young creators who don’t know better. Action Lab seems like they give a pretty raw deal, judging from a friend’s frustrations with them.
  • Heard some really terrible things about Boom. Although, I’ve heard some terrible things about all publishers, to be honest.
  • Nope. There are particular people I won’t work with, but not publishers.
  • Warned about Boom! and Papercutz. I’m forming my own opinions about them, but information people have shared about what it’s like to work with them has been incredibly valuable so I understand what I’m getting into.
  • Dynamite, page rates are too low
    Boom, page rates are too low
  • I would not work with Action Lab Entertainment again following my current series with them. I have experienced consistently late payments (which are due on a quarterly basis), miscommunication among editors, and books not shipping out on time.
  • Bluewater, shady, don’t pay, change creative teams without notice. Champion City Comics, uninformed and inexperienced staff on all levels of management and administration to the point of gross negligence. ComixTribe, makes writer pay for production expenses and creative team costs
  • I’ve had issues with Black Mask Studio. Low page rates, and very difficult to get them to pay

* details altered to protect identity of respondent


What is your race/ethnicity?

Out of 127 respondents –

White – 100

Black – 8

Hispanic – 7

Asian – 5

Other – 7


Gender

Male – 80

Female – 39

Non Binary – 3

Genderfluid – 2

Genderqueer – 2

Sexuality 

Straight – 81

Gay – 3

Bisexual – 18

Pansexual – 3

Asexual – 3

Queer – 6

Doesn’t Know – 1


In what position do you make the majority of your income in comics?

Artist – 89

Colorist – 16

Writer  – 19

Letterer – 4

How many years have you worked professionally in comics?

Avg – 7.9 years (123 respondents) 

1-5 years – 64

6-10 years – 31

11-15 years – 14

16-20 years – 6

21-35 years – 8


FAIR PAGE RATES Concerns/Questions/Misc

  • It’s not listed below, but it’s SUPER important that I mention that I have a disability and it HAS affected my ability to be hired, and it has cut me out of some jobs. I have since taken steps to hide my challenges. I wish it was something that was included below as an option to discuss in further detail.
  • Rates for color flatters
  • Rates for freelance editors
  • “I suspect people would be even more shy about giving this info than page rates but i wonder if it would be more illuminating to get data for what comic artists make overall monthly + what their costs are for taxes, health insurance and the cost of rent. in the sense that it’s hard to tell from an isolated number like 50 per page or 150 per page if that can be considered decent pay.”

Misc. Comments

“(I should note that some of these rates, particularly for Marvel, represent nearly ten years of working in the industry. I don’t know if $160 per page is a relevant amount for 2015. Like, if you were to say that Marvel pays $160 as a starting rate, I’m not sure that would still be true.)”

Regarding lowest page rates, “Zero ($), at Image, where the pay is structured differently. I still utilize this approach because I believe in it. I get paid on the backend. In indie work otherwise, the minimum was, I believe, around $45 per page…and even then people were probably afraid to ask me if I would be okay with that. I wasn’t.”

“Most indie comic projects are back end deals. And most do not end up paying. Most comic project creators simply think that “if I make a comic, people will buy and read it”. But that is anything but the norm. It’s far worse. Projects generally sit on line for a year and collect a couple bucks which isn’t worth splitting amongst contributors. Here’s an article I wrote about indie comic book publishing which has a synopsis in it about the grim nature of the indie comic scene and how I personally get around it and measure our success in a different way. http://hubpages.com/literature/So-you-want-to-be-a-Comic-Book-Publisher-Do-it-for-FREE,”


Final Thoughts

  • reasons we heard for not taking survey:
    • indifference, ‘not my problem’
    • fear of professional reprecussions
    • not comfortable sharing this info with anonymous persons

The Survey is open until July 2016, please take a moment to fill out the survey and share with your peers. Updated quarterly.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements