Robot 6

Quote of the Day | Brian K. Vaughan on the potential of creator-owned comics [UPDATED]

I loved working for my friends at Marvel and DC, and I was always compensated with a very generous upfront page rate, but by betting on myself (and Fiona!) and waiting for money on the back end with Saga, I’m already making way, way, WAY more than what I made on comparably selling books that I wrote for other companies. And that’s after splitting everything 50/50 with my richly deserving co-creator.

Brian K. Vaughan, discussing his collaboration with Fiona Staples on Saga

Vaughan also expresses surprise at how much money there is to be made in creator-owned books, although Saga is probably a phenomenon in that regard; the first issue sold 70,000 copies, and from March through June, Saga has been either Image’s No. 1 or No. 2 seller for the month, according to Diamond Comic Distributors, with only The Walking Dead charting higher.

As independent creators working on their own property, Vaughan and Staples have chosen to go the route of selling more at a lower cost, pricing their monthly comic at $2.99 and the upcoming trade at $9.99. Digital is an even better deal, with the first issue free* and issues 1-5 priced at $1.99 on comiXology right now. And yet they are selling enough comics — and keeping enough of the proceeds, as opposed to splitting with middlemen — to pay themselves a page rate and take a profit on the back end, which is a nice place to be.

*All five copies are $1.99; I saw the first one as free because I own the digital copy. Duh.



Despite being the only person in the world who didn’t like Saga, I am glad BKV is doing well on it. A healthy alternative to Marvel and DC cannot be a bad thing when it comes to stimulating the industry.

Not seeing #1 as free on comiXology right now. I would love to give it a look see if it is.

Glad to hear it. I think this is a really great time for creator-owned books in general and Image in particular.

Saga is selling extremely well, especially when compared to most other creator-owned books with the exceptions of Buffy, TWD and I think Spawn. They’re all outliers though and not the norm.

A good publisher can offer a lot. Editing, marketing, distro, and most important of all, experience with how all the pieces involved in publishing can work. That last matters, even in these days when so many services are accessible to individuals thanks to the internet.

But, for someone with the time, energy and confidence to figure out those things and go it alone, that’s absolutely the smart thing to do now. Hire yourself as publisher, and get paid for that, too, instead of paying someone else for it.

I’m glad to hear another success story.

I read SAGA #1, and didn’t care for it, but I am glad to hear that creator owned series is doing so well. I’d rather have a couple of succesful creator owned series, than another cash grab crossover from Marvel and or DC anyday.

I think you’re mistaken in your last statement. I’m pretty sure they don’t get a page rate. Just the back-end profits. That’s the whole point of what he’s saying. By waiting for the back-end, instead of taking a page rate, he’s making more money overall.

Where exactly would this page rate be coming from?

Patrick Hamilton

August 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

@Ziggy: I believe Vaughan clarified in the comments to the original post that he and Staples pay themselves an agreed upon page rate, and then split the profits 50/50. This was in response to some posters wondering about the fairness of the 50/50 split, given the greater amount of time an artist spends in drawing an issue. Vaughan replied that they do have a page rate agreed upon for each of them, and that Fiona Staples’ rate is significantly more.

I don’t care for Saga either. But I’m glad those creators are making good money off their creations. I’m glad they are sharing equally in the profits and so there won’t be any lawsuits later.

And I hope all the other fine creators who are presently working for the Big Two will learn from this success story, quit Marvel and DC, and go create something for themselves.

@Patrick: That makes sense. I’m guessing this page rate is still more of back-end money split than a traditional upfront page rate, as they still have to make the money before they can pay themselves.

Brigid Alverson

August 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm

@mrevansrm You’re right. It didn’t show a price because I own the digital copy. I just didn’t have enough coffee this morning.

I would never insist that someone else had to share my tastes, but I can’t wrap my head around liking comics but not liking the first issue of Saga. I’ve loved every issue so far, though I’ll admit it was #2 that really sealed the deal for me.

I’ve been loving the series – and this is from someone who had high expectations after reading Y and Ex Machina (and even Runaways and Ultimate X-men – his run was way under rated!). I saw the upcoming trade for only $10 for 7 issues (or 6?) – and I decided to add it to my pull list too because its such a bargain!

Unlike a certain other new Image series that is $3.50 an issue and $15 for the first 5 issue trade…. that one, I’m not as inclined to support as much! Or at all really! haha….

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