Advice for Dealing With Artists

It’s a good thing I love the comics medium, because landing an artist is hard, hard work. The good ones are either already taken or have page rates beyond the reach of any small press. At the next level they’re technically solid, but they think they’re deserving of the page rates the big guys get. And finally you have the guys who are as hungry as you are to get published, but their work is not quite ready for prime time.

It’s not hard to see why some companies shop the film rights for a new property before signing the publishing contracts: without that Hollywood money, they couldn’t be afford to pay a good artist.

It’s easy to get discouraged. There have been many times I started a dialog with a good artist, only to apologize for wasting their time after seeing their page rates. Working with Joe Bucco on Werewolves: Call of the Wild was a good combination of luck and timing that I have yet to be able to repeat. I’ve come close a couple times, but a combination of factors has prevented those other attempts from coming to fruition.

But it’s cool. I just turn back to the keyboard and I remember a certain piece of advice:

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

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  1. Harvey says:

    These answers to these questions may be a bit too private for a public blog, but I’m going to ask anyways…

    What are the page rates for small press comics?

    And for that matter, how many copies can a small press comic expect to sell?

    Life always get’s interesting when “I have a family and I need to pay the bills” meets “Do what you love”

    • Mike says:

      The answers to those questions vary wildly, unfortunately. Some artists are willing to take a back-end deal (ie, only take a cut of the profits) or a lower page rate if they’re confident the book will sell well or make money on licensing (think movie options). It all comes down to what the artist is willing to do the work for. Some of the guys who are thirsty to break in will take a lower rate because they’ve still got a day job to support them. The guys doing it full time will often hold out for a bigger job, because if they’re contracted to work for you for $20 a page and then someone comes along with the $150 they need, well, they risk breaking your contract.

      Quantities vary by publisher. A couple thousand copies is successful for some of them. Trick now is Diamond requires so many sales dollars before they’ll pick up a book and distribute it to stores. I want to say that number is $2500 now. So if you don’t sell $2500 worth of books to stores through Diamond, Diamond doesn’t order any and you’re out those sales. There are books that have been dropped as a result of this policy. See the “Less Views” segment in this LitG column to see how many books are dying because of the policy.