Sunday, 1 April 2012

Feed the artists...

I once got into an internet argument with a comic book writer (up and coming) because I suggested that artists should be paid for their efforts as they had much more of the heavy lifting to do than us mere writers.

Paying artists is always something I prefer to do when working. If I can't afford a particular artist, I will let them know, and say something along the lines of "I hope we get the chance to work together in the future".

I think comics are seeing a strange shift, a time when the pro/am lines are being blurred to the point where some "amateur" books actually look and read better than some "professional" books. I also think we are reaching a great turning point for creators, indie and otherwise, and a real key to this is to ensure that creators are able to monitise their ideas as much as possible.

Bigger publishing companies will soon be moving a lot of operational work overseas, especially those owned by mega-corporations. It's a simple numbers game now, and the numbers seem to point to more productive and cost effective work being found outside of the US. Note, I did not say cheaper. Yes, there are cheaper artists overseas, but there are also those being found overseas that will do the work at the same rate, but in a more productive manner - I think there is a danger of demonizing the overseas creator as undercutting when that may not necessarily be the case.

As a cost effective way of working, comics have painted themselves into a corner. There seems to be a sense that the final product should be produced at a high end, collector level. However, numbers are down - readers and fans simply don't seem to want to spend high for the "fix" of the story itself.

To me this seems to be a backwards approach.

The final product (that is, the comic itself) should be cheap, disposable, readily available, all the things which will make it accessible to the greatest market numbers.

Past this, there can always be deluxe, collectors editions, or artist editions - those things which are rarer and more expensive because of that.

Most importantly, and this really does go for indie creators in a big way, we have to make sure that we protect the artists' ability to make money from their skills as much as possible. Not just the page rate (which is under threat from outsourcing and lower page counts generally), but from the extension of montising their art work beyond the product. Be it from original page sales, pin-up sales, print sales, merchandising their work and so on.

I have mentioned before, and I say it again, that I run a simple policy with my creations. If any artist wants to montise those creations by producing sketches, prints, pin-ups and so on, they can - all I ask is that the work carries a clear copyright notice back to myself.

I would prefer them not to produce out right comic books using my characters, but, please, sketch away.

It should be an open policy from all creators and publishers.


Because artists are the life blood of the comic book medium, and they need to be able to survive.

In other news, I have a couple of Monkey Pipe Studios logo designs to share with you.

The first one is by Andrew Ross MacLean:

The second by Deron Bennett

Any thoughts and views, as always, are welcome.

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