Year in Review, 2016 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 100 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 2016 rates until May 2017, 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: May 2017.

Archie Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script
Cover
Inker $55
Color $35

Boom!

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script $45  $25  $32.00 (11)
Cover $200  $100 $166.67 (3)
Line Art $100  $50  $77.50 (6)
Colour $40  $20  $28.89 (9)
Letters $10  —  —
Inks $35  $10  —
Penciler $50  —  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $200  $65  $106.11 (9)

Dark Horse

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script  $50 $22
Cover
Line Art  $230  $200
Colour  —  —
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $300 $65

DC Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Flatter $14
Inker $140
Line Art $315 $180 $240 (3)
Colour $121 $50 $99 (4)
Letters $22
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $1000 $300

Dynamite

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Letters  $10  —
Cover  $450  —
Line Art  $120  $70  $90(4)

IDW Publishing

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script
Cover $200
Line Art $175 $50 $125(3)
Art + Script $250

Image Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Script $90
Inker
Line Art $125
Colour $95
Letters $25
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $200 (2)

Marvel Comics

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Inks $100
Pencils $160
Cover $600
Line Art $250 $220
Flats $15  —

Oni Press

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Lineart $150 $30
Cover $300  —
Colour $50 $15 $36.67(3)
Script + Art (Line, Colours) $33

Valiant

Page Rate Highest Lowest Avg (# of respondents)
Inks  $105  —
Pencil  $245  —
Cover  $400  —

*including colour art


Lowest Reported Page Rates by Publisher, 2016 *

  1. Oni Press, Total Art + Script – $33
  2. Boom! Studio, Total Art + Script – $65

*Sample size of 100 respondents


Survey Questions

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

Summary:

Boom! Studios – 2nd year of most negative comments about a single publisher.
DC, Dark Horse – shields sexual harassers; Scott Allie, Eddie Berganza

Blackmask

  1. Black Mask is a disappointing publisher- project had inept and temperamental editor, very low pagerate, no comps, no social media inclusion or invites to con events.
  2. Black Mask – delayed payment/ignored invoices (3+ months), ignored communication when following up on invoices

Bluewater

  1. bluewater. nonpayment once. same stories from others.
  2. zenescope has a rep of nonpayment to nonregular artists. their cash cows get paid, no one else does.
  3. Bluewater, warned about lack of payments, I was working with Bluewater but thanks to the warning I dont send any final (or hi-res) file, they publish the low-res file anyway. I ask Bluewater editor for explanations and I was threatened with a lawsuit.
  4. …under no circumstances should anyone take work from Blue Water.
  5. Bluewater- generally warned.

BOOM! Studios 

  1. Boom pays so low I’m hesitant to pursue working with them, although I haven’t written off working with them entirely.”
  2. Boom. The editors are always friendly, but the rates are terrible.
  3. I won’t work with Boom because their rates aren’t livable wages. It’s exploitative of the talent.
  4. Boom! – for pages, they don’t pay enough, and I feel they centre too much on the writer contractually, and through this, contribute to a bad culture of sidelining and impoverishing artists. I’ll do straight wfh for them when the money is right, but not if it gives my share to the writer.
  5. Most Boom editors are truly wonderful! The obvious downside of working with them–and therefore Boom–is the pay grade.
  6. Boom Studios — lowest rates in the industry, and multiple accounts of artists being screwed over.
  7. Boom due to low and late pay.
  8. working for boom! always has a sort of baggage attached to it. they’re all the kindest people but there’s a lot of issues with communication and their pay isnt great.
  9. I won’t recommend Boom to amateur artists because the pay is crap for the work you put in. I’ve never gotten paid on time, and have had to chase down payment for most of my work with them.
  10. I’ve been warned about Boom! paying about what I make now, but with unpredictable times of payment. (That being said I love the content they create and if able I would still work for them)
  11. Boom! pays poorly and late
  12. Won’t work for Boom anymore, terrible exploitative rates.
  13. I’ve been warned away from Boom! by many creators, citing low rates, nonexistant contracts or nonpayment.
  14. Boom has great titles and some of the best editors in the business but the pagerates are ludicrously low. You make much more working for McDonalds.
  15. Basically, I won’t work with BOOM!, mostly due to money – it’s simply not worth the time and effort.
  16. I had been warned about Boom repeatedly, about poor pay, late pay, and poorly treated / overworked artists, but I worked for them anyway because I didn’t feel like I could turn down the project.
  17. Boom = low pay
  18. I’ve never had a bad experience working with Boom. Their page rates aren’t good but they are nice and professional and I was paid promptly.
  19. Although I work primarily with Boom, I’ve been warned countless times to avoid them as they are a predatory company to new and naïve artists. Which is 100% true and I feel as though I have personally been taken advantage of for certain jobs in the past.
  20. BOOM! Studios – I’ve done a little bit of work for them in the past and the pay was very low and several months late. I love the editors I’ve worked with at BOOM! and might have considered doing more work for them at some point if it was on a project that I cared about, but I’ve been hearing too many recent horror stories from fellow artists and writers…BOOM! has also re-printed the work that I’ve done for them more times than I can count and I’m never told about it or sent any comp copies of the books featuring my work, which would be a pretty basic and easy thing to do. I don’t feel valued as an artist at all when I do work for them.

Darkhorse Comics

  1. I will no longer work for Dark Horse because of Scott Allie’s continued employment there and difficulties getting the publishing rights back for my property.
  2. Darkhorse: their lack of free comps, rumors of harassment from staff members, not as much creative freedom as Image

IDW Publishing

  1. I would prefer not to work with IDW again. They really didn’t value me, and take ideas to make their own, leaving the original creator in the dust. Also took forever to pay me on various occasions.
  2. IDW has been an amazing company to work for through and through. Their editorial staff is excellent, supportive, and friendly. I can’t say enough good things about my experiences there.

Image

  1. I won’t work for Image Comics after the way they treated Tess Fowler, and because they lied to her and chose to bring a known abuser back onto their team in her place.

Oni Press

  1. Oni: horrible page rate, inability to market their books, some unlikeable staff members, favoritism
  2. Oni press is horribly organized and breaks contracts constantly.

DC/Marvel Comics

  1. “I won’t work with DC/VERTIGO again. Upper management and senior editorial needs to get their shit together, badly.”
  2. DC: History of sexism, not creator-owned, no creative freedom
  3. Marvel: not creator-owned, no consistency of artists for a full run on a series, little creative freedom
  4. DC has commissioned covers from me and not published them and I can’t make a livable wage unless I make originals available, so I will no longer consider working for dc
  5. Pretty much any of the bigger publishers (DC/Marvel, Dark Horse) because there are so many awful men around.
  6. I’ve been warned off DC comics because of their frequent and unaddressed problems with their editors sexually harassing people, especially women.
  7. I would rather not ever work for Marvel or DC despite higher rates of pay mostly due to me being a minority and not feeling safe with them.
  8. …haven’t pursued work with Marvel and DC because their rep for hiring/retaining/protecting their female and queer artists is very poor.
  9. I have been warned to never be left alone in a room with Eddie Berganza.

Tokyopop

  1. Probably not Tokyopop, ever. Until they get some good contracts for once.
  2. I hear TokyoPop is back up and doing their own shady business.
  3. Tokyopop = predatory contracts, late or no pay, work goes unprinted

Zenescope

  1. Zenescope has a rep of nonpayment to nonregular artists. their cash cows get paid, no one else does.
  2. Zenescope. I worked with them a few years ago and had hell getting paid.
  3. I’ve been warned away from Zenescope. They don’t pay their creators unless you hound them, a couple of my colleagues have worked for them and listening to their experiences was more than enough.
  4. I have been warned about late payments by Zenescope, but never having worked for them, I can’t really say.

Misc: 

  • In general, I’m trying to avoid working for lower tier publishers – Boom, IDW and lower – as their rates are very low and I can’t afford to work for that little money.
  • Rosy Press, because of various troubling stories about artists being asked to pay large sums to purchase back their rights for work they completed under contract but we’re never compensated for.
  • Rosy Press (now defunct), SLG (now defunct), Tokyopop – all for rights grabs and mistreatment of artists combined with low pay
  • Fresh Romance. It started out well, but they stopped paying and publishing. I’m going to avoid all kickstarter projects from now on.
  • Platinum Studios was the worst company I’ve ever worked with.
  • Not that I’m aware of but at this point I don’t usually consider working for anyone who is not Filthy Figments, Slipshine or Iron Circus anyway. Mainly just because I’m most familiar with them and I trust they won’t bring me any risks.
  • I won’t recommend Stela to ANYONE, because they are quite happy to ignore contracted obligations and leave artists hanging while Stela holds the rights to their series.
  • Probably won’t work for First Second again unless a really good opportunity arises – also bad rates and terrible communication.
  • Action Lab still owes me money from a coloring gig I did a few years back. I tried emailing the editor about the payment after finishing the project and they basically ghosted me (I should also mention that the project never saw print). It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was more the principle of the thing. I’ve heard similar experiences from a number of people who’ve done things for them in the past. That being said, I know a few people who are working with them currently who (I hope) are having better experiences, however I don’t think I’d ever fully trust them again.
  • Did a cover for Z2 and never got paid.
  • Rosy Press = artists unpaid, predatory contracts, work goes unprinted
  • Blue Apple Books. Great creatively and put out good books and you get to keep the rights to your characters/stories, but it has always been a pain getting paid by them. Once had to wait over six months to get a much needed check from them.
  • Though I am working with them currently, I would not choose to work with Boom, Oni, or Z2 again due to either negligent/ignorant editorial at Oni and Z2, or just low rates and horrible incentives w/ Boom.
  • NO MORE ANTHOLOGIES – until the accepted model changes (pays more, provides royalties). A publishing house that uses anthologies in its business model needs to be paying royalties to creators. Creators are encourage to sell physical books on their own, but reap no royalties for digital sales, which could be substantial and will be sold in perpetuity by the publisher
  • Iron Circus – Poor communication (sent several emails over months with no response, sparse updates to the group email, no book status updates since July 2016, despite multiple requests), no contracts, subtweets about creators who refuse low advances and discuss wages

* details altered to protect identity of respondent


Have you faced challenges in the comics industry because of your race, gender or sexual orientation? If you feel comfortable sharing, please share your experience here.

  • “I’ve absolutely faced challenges for being a woman. I know I’m currently being underpaid by a large company (after talking to several peers, one of whom is making more money than me and was hired 2 years after me) and although I’ve asked to renegotiate they seem uninterested. I’ve been assaulted at conventions (verbally and physically). I’ve been hit on at my table. I’ve been asked what I do (you are at a comic con in artists’ alley) and who I am (check the banner) and why I have all the books on my table (because I made them–DUH!). This is all general stuff I never hear my guy friends talk about happening to them.”
  • “Yes, I have experienced sexual harrassment before. In terms of race, it’s been a lot more subtle, but I definitely think it’s affected me.”
  • “Yes. Guys include other guys and support other guys, so its not helpful being female. You need to get on those lists, to get that visibility that being included offers in order to get work. Being friendly doesn’t cut it, if you aren’t male you can never be enough.”
  • “I know other people have way worse stories out there, so mine it relatively small. But the small things add up and also hinder folks who aren’t cishetwhite dudes. The head of marketing just put his drinking buddies (all white dudes) on panels at cons which made it hard to have a chance to promo my book. But there is a new head of marketing who female so I think that will change.”
  • “The horrifying vitriol that women, POCs, and LGBTQIA creators has been disheartening at times. I’ve gotten a few messages over the years that have felt like a slap to the face. The price you pay for being openly female and queer in what is thought of as a traditionally straight male space is opening yourself up to ridicule, insults, threats, and people telling you “you shouldn’t be making comics.”
  • “Not that I’m aware of, but the majority of other creators I work with are queer women. “
  • “No, I’ve felt very comfortable working in this industry so far and I feel very accepted!”
  • “I don’t think I have. I got a bunch of “what’s it like to be a woman in comics?” interview questions last year when I did guest art for ******, but I think that’s more a ‘current American society’ problem not a comics industry problem, or at least, it’s a complex problem, but not one that I feel like prevents me from getting work.”
  • “I absolutely have faced challenges based on my sexual orientation and gender. Microaggressions are a constant source of fatigue, both from professionals and from fans. I fear being exposed to abusers at industry events because I’m aware that so many continue to have a place in the industry, even after being exposed.”
  • “Yes. I am politically active and I have been told that I come off as difficult or hysterical. Additionally men have said wildly inappropriate things to me about my body. “
  • “no, actually I believe I’ve had opportunities because of my gender/orientation (panels, anthologies, publishers pushing for diversity, etc).”
  • “While I have faced harassment as a female creator at conventions, this aspect seems to have faded significantly as I have become more established in my career…”
  • “So far, I haven’t because I don’t make my ethnicity a priority. The only time I’ve experinced challenges with it was when I was in college and since I pursue Japanese Manga style as my medium, they marked me down based on style alone, and their reason was that “your art looks like a Japanese did it, but when I look at you (a hijabi Muslim Malay), I don’t think it fits you. There’s no problem with your art, skill wise, just that you’re giving credit to the wrong people by drawing Manga styled”.Otherwise, I try to keep out of public view so I rarely mention my race, heritage or my religion. If anything, it’s usually when I do show them that people tend to judge my art along with my ethinicity. Otherwise, I haven’t encountered any sort of problems with that and since my art is a priority, I do not mind not showing my face publicly. It’d be wonderful if my art and myself can be 2 separate things and judged differently and not one and the same but as reality is like this, I’ll just maneuver accordingly. I’m not going to let something like this get in the way of me pursuing my dreams.”
  • “Institutional sexism is everywhere. I don’t feel this is a comics-specific problem by any means, but regardless, it’s a significant barrier to upward mobility.”
  • “Women in art/writing tend to be hyperctitical of other indie women rather than on major industry problems “
  • “Yes, mainly because of my race. General insensitive comments and misinformed expectations because of my race, mainly from white queer people. Expectations mainly that I take on the emotional work of being a therapist to my white comic peers, thus eating into my work time and energy.”
  • “Not yet, but I do find myself feeling reserved among male fans and artists at comic conventions. It feels like there is a large divide between older men in the industry and younger women. The older men are not very willing to share what they believe is entitled to them (majority influence over the comics industry).”
  • “I have had some issues with male editors being tentative when giving notes. Often I just want to be told what needs to be changed so I can get to work doing that. I only ever ask why if I feel like the change would be a poor choice, and that’s rarely ever. When I have asked why they feel the need to be so careful in the delivery of their notes, they have expressed that they’re afraid I would cry.I’ve also been criticized multiple times for having not made my female characters ‘pretty’ enough, accused of having an agenda against bigger breasted women, and chastised for choosing to put them in clothing that hangs on them realistically.”
  • “I was harassed by a male cartoonist and it made me feel uncomfortable going to cons for a while.”
  • “People think that they can exploit young women of color in indie comics because they’re green and have fewer eyes on their work in most circles, even the indie ones.”
  • “There is a lot of casual sexism and misogyny in the comics industry, and it’s hard to network and move in the industry when there are so many abusers and harassers shielded or minimized. You never know who to trust, and who is looking to use you. Men will steal your ideas and take credit for them.”

Final Thoughts

  • race/gender data has been withheld
  • If you think some data has revealed your identity, or want something removed, please email us immediately.

The Survey is open until July 2017, please take a moment to fill out the survey and share with your peers. Updated quarterly.

 

 

 

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