I had a former student reach out to me about THIS article over at Time.com-- go ahead and read it, I'll be here when you get back.
See folks, this is why some of us accuse "journalists" of Fake News-- sloppy research, factual errors, heresay reported as fact. Where is the integrity?
I don't know where Megan Leonhardt did her research but I think my 13 year old neighbor could have done a better job on this, although to be fair she's a pretty bright kid.
We stumble and break our leg right at the beginning of the article;
"In many cases, you’ll make far more than the executive salaries at the biggest comic book publishers. Stan Lee, perhaps the most famous comic book writer and illustrator, is worth an estimated $40 million."
First and foremost, Stan was never an illustrator. NEVER. Not one book did Stan contribute any art to and unlike his tendency to take credit for things he didn't do, he never even claimed to draw anything.
Second, and this one is great, Stan was the Editor and then Publisher of Marvel Comics. Yes he did write, but it was because the company couldn't afford to hire a bunch of writers in the 40s-60s so he handled all eight of their titles. Stan then became an ambassador for Marvel, doing college lectures in the 70s before heading to the West Coast to head up the development of Marvel characters in film.
"He did pretty good there, didn't he? " You might think. You might think that but you'd think wrong. Under Stan's artistic direction Marvel was able to release such stalwart clunkers as THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN TV Series with Nicholas Hammond, the TV Movie's CAPTAIN AMERICA, CAPTAIN AMERICA II: DEATH TOO SOON, DEATH OF THE INCREDIBLE HULK, DR STRANGE (not the one you know with Benny Cumbersmith), the never released Roger Corman FANTASTIC FOUR whose special effects included a long rubber stick with a glove on the end to show us Mr Fantastic's ability to stretch and countless other train wrecks like Dolph Lundgren's PUNISHER. To be fair, THE INCREDIBLE HULK with Bill Bixby was a legitimate success, but it's still nothing to brag about.
All of these were cringe worthy low budget misfires.
Stan then left Marvel, or was fired depending on who you listen to, and started up StanLeeMedia which developed such iconic characters as STRIPPERELLA. At one point in my early career I was approached to do a Stan Lee/Adam West Comic Book project that was so badly written I had to pass because while those two giants could survive a terrible project it would have been career suicide for me.
Stan made his money with the internet boom-- when he decided to focus on internet content and no one had any idea what that was going to be but people invested and at one point stock in Stan Lee media was worth MORE than stock in Marvel.
Stan's success outside of Marvel Comics in the 60s has been extremely limited, in fact I can't name one project he's done without Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko or John Buscema that has had any staying power.
So Stan WAS a writer but he didn't make his millions doing that.
The article then goes on to list what kind of pay you can make in comics-- which seems to be anything from Sign up for Food Stamps to Order Another Yacht and in actuality that's not that far from the truth.
Here's another laugh out loud paragraph:
"Compensation can range dramatically depending on both experience and the publisher. For example, it’s not uncommon for new artists to make $2,000 for a 100-page book. Depending on fast the artist can work, that’s only about $2.50 an hour for someone who spends about eight hours working on each page. However, experienced artists who design and execute the cover art can command much higher rates, up to $600 per page at some publishers."
Who did she interview? Small Press? If you're working in this industry as an artist and you're charging $20 a page (which is the math for $2000/100page book) you are not only NOT a professional you must have a day job because as the article states most artists can draw 3-4 pages a week-- so does she think there are working professionals making $60 a week? That's $300 a month on a month that has FIVE weeks. Nope. Totally false.
When I first started out, WAAAAAAY back in 1998, I did some work on a small press publisher's book and I was paid $100 a page. I did five pages a week for them so I grossed $500 a week. That was TWENTY YEARS AGO. No company is paying $20 a page today. Not one. You might find a couple of guys living in their mom's basement who have a great idea for a comic book but have no money trying to FIND an artist who will work for this, but they won't find one.
Even though I fully understand the concept of Fake News, and sadly it's absolutely TRUE-- I'm still shocked that this article is out there.
Okay, so what are the rates then, Andy?
Rates do vary from publisher to publisher and creator to creator but realistically this is what you can expect to get paid.
Writer- $25-$100 per page. A typical comic book in America is 22 pages so that's $550-$2200 per book. Generally speaking you are expected to deliver a script for a book in about 5 days.
Illustrator- $200-$600 per page. Almost gone now are the days of the penciler and the inker. Most companies now assume you'll be working digitally and therefore you'll be inking your own work. Generally speaking you'll have about 25 days to deliver the finished art.
Colorist - $20-$150 per page. Almost every colorist works digitally. You'll be expected to color a full 22 page book in about 5 days.
Letterer- $10-$25 per page. Also digital, you generally have about 3 days to letter a comic book of 22 pages.
I'm not going to bother listing the salaries for Editors, Publishers, CEO's etc as she did because once again those examples are ridiculous.
But there you have it-- real news folks.