Why does the comic book industry have a history of short-changing creators?

Originally published at: Why does the comic book industry have a history of short-changing creators? | Boing Boing

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Why does the _______ industry have a history of short-changing creators?

Insert any industry. For the answer, follow the money.


I was coming to write almost an identical post. Every industry tends to screw the very people it relies on most.


Indeed, comic book artists I worked with were generally looking for an opportunity to move in to Editorial. The further away you are from the coalface, the more you are valued by the employer.


That was my take too, or: Why does capitalism exploit workers? Because it’s allowed to.


I work in comics as a colorist. Pretty much everyone on the art end are freelance and work assignment to assignment. I wish we could unionize but it feels hard to do that when you literally are never technically employed by them. When a job might only last a month or a week and you’re getting a page rate rather than an hourly rate.
To be fair, marvel does actually pay OK page rates and I get residuals every time they reprint stuff or sell digital copies. It’s small amounts per book but I’ve been working with them so long that I’ll occasionally get payments for hundreds of dollars.
Smaller publishers tend not to pay anywhere near what the big companies do. Especially if you’re working on properties/characters that you don’t own the rights to - if you’re just work for hire on someone else’s stuff.

One huge downside in my situation is my page rate hasn’t budged for like 10 years and we all know that doesn’t exactly match the change in cost of living…

I worked in animation for a while until zazlav laid us all off. That was awesome. Good pay and benefits. And that’s literally because the animation industry in Los Angeles is unionized.


That guy is turning everything he touches into shit.


the jungle book capitalism GIF
Otherwise known as “Fuck the workers!!”


Not just creators. Dark Horse has a job posting now for a 2-day a week graphic designer, who must live in Portland and have a set of skills and experience that I can’t imagine getting without several years as a professional.

The pay is $21.25 an hour.


I checked out some salary sites and surprisingly that pay rate is a little less than midrange for graphic designers there. The lowest rate was $15.00 which I believe is minimum wage in Oregon.

What really surprised me about your post @hand2mouse is that Dark House was founded by a comic book guy (comic bookstore chain owner) who was feed up with the way “The Big Two” treated creators. It’s now owned by a European conglomerate but I think he’s still in charge.

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What a lovely username you have.

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Awwww, thanks, it’s been a long time since anyone enthused over it (besides me). :smiling_face:

hand2mouse was my business name starting in about 1993, and is still my domain name (since 1997). However, I changed the business name in 2010 because new input devices were becoming more common and I didn’t want to seem dated (and I didn’t change it to hand2touchscreen!)

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That’s just because there are so many baristas who are struggling freelancers (everywhere but especially in Portland). This job posting calls for quite a bit of experience, and my last on-site contract job was for $50/hr.


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