So, you say you would like to draw “Spider-Man” for a living? I even have some thoughts thereon .
This article isn’t ideological. It’s practical.
It may not be fun to listen to , but I see all the misery and desperation within the comics industry and that i think sometimes it’s good to be reminded of a number of these things .
The worst decision you’ll make as an ingenious is to pursue a career as a “comic book artist.”
There’s little or no upside in it. There’s no money in comics. the sole money is in licensing. Is that how you would like to pursue your creative agenda? handling lawyers?
For a get few, there’s superstar status within the comics community and bidding wars over your services which may begin once you’re a full time employee at Marvel or DC. which will only last for a couple of years, at best.
You want that Marvel/DC exclusive contract so you’ll get health care coverage and whatever other guarantees one among those has. (Do contracted creatives get a 401(k) or anything like that? I don’t know. People usually stop talking about it after health care.)
It still won’t guarantee you credit during a DC television series, though, or a dime from overseas sales. And that’s your best case scenario.
As the artist, you’ll only work on one book at a time. That limits your opportunities and your chances for fulfillment .
So you say you would like to be a “comic book artist”?
No. Don’t. Save yourself a world of trouble here.
Timing is Everything
Just before I published this essay, Phil Hester tweeted:
magazine careers are like musicial ones. A vanishingly small number folks can fill arenas, a lucky few get successful or two and may tour our whole careers, most are gigging at local venues, some just jamming within the garage.
— Phillip Hester (@philhester) October 17, 2018
The thing about the people gigging at local venues and jamming their garages is that they need day jobs or incredibly supportive and understanding families.
Or rich parents.
The Health Care Thing
Side note: the truth is, if you’re in America, it’s your responsibility to require care of your health care. This isn’t the place to debate the politics of that. I’m just talking about reality here.
To each his or her own, but I don’t understand how you’ll feel comfortable making a living during a career that creates health care unaffordable, and doesn’t offer insurance as a part of your employment.
I get it, you’ll take the afternoon off to travel catch a movie. you’ll also catch the flu and go bankrupt and/or die. But, hey, time freedom, am I right?
But the gig economy are going to be the new norm. Maybe, but nobody’s getting rich doing TaskRabbit chores and Uber rides. (Uber may be a house of cards that’s wildly overvalued and due for a huge collapse someday. That’s another story for an additional day, though…)
I’m a diabetic. This gig economy/freelance lifestyle has never been an option on behalf of me . I’ve always made sure I had employment thereupon as a part of the agreement. once I was between jobs, I paid into COBRA and located a replacement job ASAP with health care coverage.
This is also the rationale I’ve never pursued “comics journalism” as a career. There’s no package to travel along side the wage approximately that might pay to hide an identical 401(k) or health care or any of the remainder .
I’d be sacrificing my future to possess “fun” today. That’s not worthwhile . It’s not responsible, albeit you don’t have a family to require care of.
Career Suicide, Part 2
What’s the top game with being a contract magazine artist? you’re employed until the day you die, if you’re lucky. If not, you’re hoping for help from ACTOR.
Most likely, you fall out of favor , editors stop returning your phone calls or the editors who hire you get shuffled around or leave the industry, your nostalgic fans stop commissioning you after a couple of years, and you teach local art classes, if you’re lucky.
It’s a never ending treadmill that, if you’re lucky, doesn’t kill you early.
There are certain ways to form this better. i feel there are some artists who are starting to realize that they’re actually entrepreneurs and are running their creative life more sort of a business. within the end of the day , those people stand an opportunity . It involves creator-ownership and building a library and being your own best marketer and a number of other other things (a spouse with a company job is usually valuable), but it’s do-able.
Very few people can afford to travel this manner , though.
Far too many young creatives are fanboys or fangirls just happy to urge work to urge on the treadmill and feel lucky to not fall off.
But everyone falls off. It’s only a matter of your time . This career path rarely ends well.
The Excuses Are Off the Table
This has been happening for years now. You can’t say you don’t know the deal you’re stepping into once you cash a paycheck from Marvel or DC. This isn’t the 60s or 70s anymore. we all know more now.
Know upfront that the work you are doing will only get you paid once which they owe you nothing past that. It’s in your contract, albeit it isn’t rubber stamped on the rear of your paycheck anymore. Don’t expect anything in royalties when the overwhelming majority of comics aren’t selling in any serious numbers.
Don’t be upset when your name isn’t within the credits and you don’t get a royalty from the newest television program or movie supported your work. If you’re lucky, they’ll wine and dine you with some movie tickets and perhaps an hors d’oeuvre at the opening of the movie. It it helps their marketing, you’ll get a selfie with their starlet.
And once they cast you aside in favor of the younger, hot up-and-comer who might even be working for a lower page rate (What? Page rates can get even lower?!?), realize that that’s how you likely made your door into the industry.
Don’t tell me it’s not fair.
If You Insist…
Be an artist, not a “comic book artist.” concentrate on design or illustration or animation. Don’t concentrate on comic books.
Don’t make magazine production your sole source of income. Whatever you are doing , don’t make that mistake. Yes, at the start , you would possibly got to be heads down drawing to create up a library to capitalize off of within the future . which may be in residual sales or simply within the reputation that you simply can do the work.
Have you seen the mess Marvel and DC are in these days? does one want to believe them to pay your mortgage or rent every month? They can’t responsibly schedule a series to offer creatives the time to urge the work done. They can’t start a replacement shiny imprint without backing off it as soon as possible. Their editorial decisions are subject to the whim of their corporate overlords.
You need to be prepared to try to to other work. it’d be “comics adjacent,” like covers for other publishers, commissions for fans, or the planning side of things for action figures or statues or something.
But it might even be an honest idea to dip your toes into the animation world or the computer game world. See what that’s like. I’m not saying either of these is extremely stable, either, (video games are a friggin’ disaster) but a minimum of the animation folks have a union which will assist you with health care and other benefits, if you are doing enough work there.
Drawing comic books and only comic books may be a fool’s game.
Now, if you enforce not taking note of my wise advice, there are belongings you can do to assist your cause.
First, confirm losing your biggest client won’t bankrupt you. Don’t believe one source of income. Build up others.
Second, become your own brand. Your style, your outreach, your personality… All of that adds up to a “brand” that you simply can take advantage of in multiple ways.
Third, this is often a business and not a hobby. Read your contracts.
Fourth, own your work. It’s the sole long-term play. If you provides it away for the fast paycheck, you’re devaluing your work and hurting your future self.
Fifth, read “The Only one that Can Pop a comic book Book Artist.” I wrote that article last year. It goes into more depth on this whole subject.
Good luck. You’re getting to need it.
In the end, I can’t tell you what to try to to . Maybe you employ this text to fireside yourself up to prove me wrong and continue to require on the planet and win!
Or maybe you pursue a career in animation, movies (storyboarding!), graphic design, commercials/advertising, or one among those venues where there are employment opportunities with full benefits. I’m not saying those are getting to be easy, either. There are always more people that consider themselves as artists than there are positions to be filled. But a minimum of the upside is bigger once you’re in.
Just don’t act surprised when your lifetime of comic art leads down some dark roads which may are avoided with another career. At now , there are far too many stories out there that back me up.
Nobody wants to possess to start out an Indie-Go-Go campaign to urge through life.