Robot 6

‘… artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.’

After HoudiniWriter Jeremy Holt sure got people talking—er, tweeting—on Wednesday when he tweeted “…I don’t believe in upfront pay when producing creator-owned comics. Corrodes the team.” Holt does believe in sharing revenues with the artist, but he is quite vehemently opposed to just paying the artists for their work. Here’s more:

From my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.

It’s not that I refuse to pay artists. I can’t. If they want to work on spec, that’s their prerogative.

Paying collaborators have never yielded the results I want.

Last time I did I was left with an incomplete project after spending $2500 as the artist went MIA. Paychecks can’t be the goal.

Artists I’ve worked with that only want $$$ never spent the time to discuss/collaborate on the project.

They more often than not were juggling other paying gigs to make more $$, and our work suffered.

Naturally, this got some pushback from artists; you can read a lot of it in this thread. Joe Keatinge responded

you’re a good dude, but if an artist getting paid is killing their interest in your work, maybe the problem’s with your work

And Paul Allor Tweeted

All I know is, if my doctor really cared about curing disease he’d stop charging me.

Perhaps the most impassioned response, however, came from a writer, Leia Weathington, whose Tweets were collected by Erica Moen at Storify. The whole thing is worth reading, but she really nails it at the end:

If you don’t want to make your artists happy with some dough, copyright stake, or some creative control?

Then you don’t want to be in comics, go write that shit as a novel.

I’m not a comics creator, but speaking as someone who has done freelance work of various types, including writing about comics and other things, for years, I think Holt has it exactly backwards. The first rule of freelancing is that paying work comes first. Love don’t pay the rent.

Granted, Holt isn’t talking about cutting out the artist entirely; he just doesn’t want to pay up front because he believes this somehow makes the artist less enthusiastic about the project. Maybe he’s just really bad at hiring people. I have supervised freelancers and I have supervised volunteers, and I think it’s pretty consistent that you don’t get the same level of commitment from people who aren’t being paid. And I’m not sure getting a stake in a creator-owned comic counts as “getting paid” unless it’s Saga or The Walking Dead.

The exception, of course, is when the writer and the artist are co-creators of the project and they are working with a shared vision (although Holt says that artist Kevin Zeigler pitched After Houdini to him—no mention of whether he refused payment so he would be more passionate about the project). But if you’re bringing someone in to illustrate your story, you should acknowledge that making art is work and that people should be paid for the work they do for you. The attitude that emanates from Holt’s Tweets is that artists should be doing it for love, not money, which seems like a poor grounding for a business relationship.

In summary, if you are concerned that your artist is only in it for the money, the solution is not to expect the artist to work for free. The solution is to get a better artist.

(Via Blogtown.)

News From Our Partners

Comments

104 Comments

This guy has never worked a real job or done any real volunteer work in his life. Passion is passion. People either care about the project or they don’t. Passion cannot be bought, but it is not dampened simply because a paycheck is involved. These artists deserve to be paid upfront because they are providing their time and talent to you, and that’s worth something. Considering the huge, profitable successes of Man of Steel, The Avengers, Batman, TMNT, and so many other properties/franchises which have benefitted from, and will continue to benefit from, the creativity of comic book professionals, they should be getting paid more, much less upfront. I cannot wait to start publishing comic books next year to counter this kind of corporate jujitsu, which is now infiltrated the indie scene, too. My god.

If you expect a paycheck for working on a comic book, you’re now considered a heretic…Jesus.

Saul Goode aka Anonymous2

August 3, 2013 at 12:27 pm

I’m waiting for Erik Larsen’s response. That should be entertaining AND enlightening.

haha, yeah where is Erik Larsen in this? this is something that seems like it would get his bald head boiling

In the words of the Joker, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”. And I do agree with Gavin, I don’t see anything wrong with expecting a check for giving your time and talent to someone.

If you’re in it for the paycheck, you’re not in it for the love of the craft.

Frank Hermitage

August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm

If you’re in it for the love of the craft, make your own comic instead of being art slave to some dick who doesn’t value your contribution enough to pay you.

You can be in it for the paycheck AND love of the craft. By this logic a clerk at a grocery store gives you lower-quality food if you pay for it, the higher the rent is the worse the neighborhood , or if someone fixes your roof it means they’ll do a half-assed job if you pay them. Writing or drawing is an occupation like all those. It’s up to the artist what constitutes a labor of love, but it’s complete BS (I don’t know the policy on swearing in the comments) to say an artist is a hack for wanting money and to use that as an excuse not to pay.

That philosophy might coincide with his experience, such as it is. I command a very healthy sum for my creative work because it is always excellent, and beyond a client or editor’s expectations. My work is the caliber it is because I am always passionate about what I do, no matter the project. It’s a professional ability to throw your creative might behind anything that crosses your plate, regardless of how “into it” you’d be otherwise. That makes great work, great word of mouth, great reputation, great big sacks of money. I get paid because I care, not in spite of it.

It’s amazing the amount of vitriol that comes out of people’s computers, both professional and private, when someone writes something they disagree with. He was asked a question, and answered it. From what I can see he didn’t try to PC it up but answered honestly. And has been crucified for it. Makes me wonder why anyone bothers answering questions anymore.

I can see where he’s coming from. I don’t work in the comics industry but I’m a teacher. I’m surrounded by many dedicated teachers who work 12 hour days, do extra-curricular activities, as well as a lot of volunteer work throughout the school and community. They are dedicated teachers who have a desire to teach. They love having a salary and want to be paid fairly, but this is not why they teach. It’s a calling.

On the other hand I have unfortunately worked with many teachers who see it as a 9 to 5 job, are not invested in their students’ futures and are there for the salary only, or because of a fear of getting a “real job.” I know who I want teaching my own children.

I think what Holt is trying to say is that a creator who comes to comics focusing solely on getting paid, or thinking about how this little gig is only a stepping stone to a larger one, or hopes it will lead to a syndicated TV series or movie and big money, is not the person he wants to work with. He wants to work with someone who is passionate about the project he’s working on at that moment. People looking over their shoulder or off to the horizon for the next big opportunity are not dedicated to the “here and now.” Think about the shit managers you’ve had at your workplace – the ones solely focused on the next step of their career and the salary. Did they really care about you or the workplace you were working in? Did you love working with them too?

Maybe we should be reading Holt’s comments a bit more closely before jumping on the vitriol bandwagon.

This is a completely B.S. account of the gist of the conversation and conveniently leaves out the parts where Jeremy specifically states that he’s talking about the artists he has worked with. It was NOT a blanket statement that any artist who wants to get paid is only in it for the money and not for the craft. But I guess CBR is desperate enough for the clicks to leave that part out as it wouldn’t be as sensational a story. THAT is the disrespectful thing here, not what Jeremy said.

Yeah. I agree with Marc on this. You have to love the media for taking creative license with tidbits of information to make things more sensational. Trayvon Martin, anyone? <—-THAT should get things going, eh?

“This is a completely B.S. account of the gist of the conversation and conveniently leaves out the parts where Jeremy specifically states that he’s talking about the artists he has worked with.”

It says as much in the first quoted section.

“Artists I’ve worked with that only want $$$ never spent the time to discuss/collaborate on the project.”

Then why does the author completely ignore that when she goes on to say “Granted, Holt isn’t talking about cutting out the artist entirely; he just doesn’t want to pay up front because he believes this somehow makes the artist less enthusiastic about the project. ”

SPECIFICALLY when she says he believes this somehow makes the artists less enthusiastic. She’s dismissive of the point he was making when he clarified it. She used the quotes that were the ones that would garner the responses she wanted and left it up to people to click on links to read the rest. She left out the parts where he apologized if he wasn’t clear in what he was saying.

Why mislead readers in making it look like he’s talking about ALL artists instead of the experiences he’s had with the ones he has worked with in the past?

Agreed with Marc. This Brigid alverson has completely manipulated his answers to spark inevitable controversy and backlash. If your ONLY experience deals with artists who promise a certain level of commitment, take your hard earned money upfront only to ditch the project because it isn’t funded by some big wig publishers… What other conclusion can you come to?

Brigid Alverson – you need to get a real job because you clearly can’t seem to write an unbiased article. Go work for FOX News.

What Marc Lombardi said.

Jesus Christ …Jeremy is speaking about his personal experiences and he answered honestly. He even gave an example of paying up front and getting burned.

Social media is becoming a fucking nightmare, there are butt hurt hordes of people on every subject waiting to jump your ass and make a stink if you answer honestly, make a joke, attempt to have fun, or be yourself. The guy is making a serious effort to break into comics, getting his foot in the door, getting burned on a gig, having some stuff published, hitting cons, networking, … then he goes and he answers something honestly on twitter about his personal experiences …from his perspective…and gets a big fat upfront shit sandwich for his efforts… didn’t even have to wait backend.

I have to say, having read this whole twitter exchange as it happened, Jeremy was treated unfairly on twitter and this article is simply attention grabbing bullshit. First of all, and this is the most important part, Jeremy was advocating based on his various personal experiences that he would rather be in a completely shared collaborative process on his books rather than working as an employer of an uninterested artist. This is not unusual. Ask any struggling comic writer if they would rather have an artist defer upfront payment for co-ownership and 99% of the time they will say yes. Comics may be the only field in the world where one person pays another out of pocket and then they are expected to be equal teammates. That is not the real world and it’s certainly not Jeremy’s fault. Paul Allor is a good guy and a good writer but his shots at Holt were unfair and off the mark. Would the correct counter argument to that be “the guy who changes my oil really cares about me and my car because I pay him?” Some people take jobs they don’t care about. This isn’t news. Jeremy seems to have had bad experiences hiring disinterested artists. It’s sad that this has soured him on good artists who would care about his book but need to get paid, but it has. That doesn’t make him a villain for looking for an alternative.

I know that a few artists jumped in to say that artists should under no circumstances work for free because it devalues their art. As far as I know Jeremy isn’t hustling anyone, he isn’t working with confused or simple people. Jeremy was speaking about his personal philosophies. Why do established artists feel they have any right to tell the people that Jeremy works with how they should value their work or what they should work on. If someone believes in Jeremy’s work and wants to work on it for no money then good for them. If Jeremy thinks that creates a better relationship than good for him. If they want to work for money but can’t get paid work yet then good for them for hustling and getting some work out there and building a portfolio. If Jeremy’s artists are good, and many of them are very good, they can get paying work and are foregoing it to work for backend on his books. Don’t be the asshole that tells people how to run their own careers, how to do their own hobbies, or how to make their own art.

Jeremy’s response to the comment of no artist should work for free was “what would creator owned comics look like if writers felt the same way.” This was met with silence because it is a very problematic question. One of the problems is that comics publishing has a dirty secret. Publishers are underfunded and editors are overworked so they literally do not have the time or the means to adequately evaluate a pitch book the way they should; which is to read a treatment and look at an artist’s existing portfolio to decide if they want to publish the book. Instead editors have a few minutes to look through huge slush piles and make snap judgements, meaning that you need to turn in nearly final looking books or pages to be considered. So now if you want your book to be considered it falls on an a writer’s shoulders to pay an artist to produce finished pages. This works well for a lot of folks in the industry; it keeps a lot of artists working in between “go” projects and it makes editors evaluations easier. It is not easier for writers though. That is just a simple fact that Jeremy was pointing out.

It is easy to get into the back and forth whether this is a period that devalues artists more or devalues writers more. The simple and brutally depressing answer is that in some ways both are somewhat overvalued. Unfortunately creator owned comics sales are such that it is nearly impossible for many people in the field to make a living wage. If we believe the value of a person’s work is how much money they can generate than a good chunk of comic professionals are in serious trouble. Beyond that I will say that writing and art are both extremely difficult, both are crafts that people work on for years to hone, and neither should be treated as unimportant in comics. They are equally important. While the physical effort and time commitment to the art of a book is usually much greater, that does not make it more important in any way. Artists should definitely be compensated differently than writers for their work, if not solely for the time commitment, but that doesn’t mean that they matter more. Many writers out there are quick to point out that books can’t be sold to publishers or the public with crappy art. That is not a celebration of the value of art, it is a sad statement on the deplorable conditions of the writing standards in many comics. It is hard to find a bad looking, well written book on the shelves but it is a fair sight easier to find a good looking but badly written book. Maybe I am wrong and that means artists are more important, but I feel that means we just need to be figuring out ways to get better writing out there. And as a side note, while yes, writers can write multiple books, most young writers do not get that opportunity. Meanwhile working artists can take commissions, do sketches, take small freelance gigs, and sell original pages. The “writer can do 5 books a month but the artist can only draw one” argument does not paint the whole picture of comic book economics.

When Ms. Alverson states “I think Holt has it exactly backwards. The first rule of freelancing is that paying work comes first. Love don’t pay the rent.” I hope she will reread Jeremy’s comments to see that she is the one who has it backwards. Jeremy’s points were not a condemnation of paying freelancers at all, he was removing himself from that equation entirely. He doesn’t want to hire people to work for him, he wants to find partners to work with him and share the time and fiscal burden. Why a young writer should be vilified and publicly lambasted for saying he wants to find like minded people to work with is beyond me. Comics has a lot of problems, writers and artist proudly working together on books they are passionate about is not one of them.

Brigid Alverson

August 4, 2013 at 5:19 am

I picked up on Jeremy’s Tweets because I thought they raised couple of interesting issues that tie in with other things I have been reading lately and talking about at conventions. One is the relative importance of artist and writer, and another is the problem of compensation.

The nub of the matter is an almost subconscious attitude that somehow creative people shouldn’t be looking for money. I see this all the time on Kickstarter, where some creators earnestly assure potential pledgers that the money raised will all be going for printing and production costs and none will go into their pocket. That’s exactly where it should be going, and I’m disturbed that people think that’s a bad thing. Creators need to be paid for their work so they can focus on being creators, and my own personal view is that if a Kickstarter exceeds its goal, the creator should pocket the extra cash and use it to work on the next comic rather than adding gold foil stamped covers or a video game.

There’s also a question of the power balance, which is something Jeremy addresses in his Tweets. Contra what some of his friends here are saying, I did try to present his argument fairly—if I was click-baiting, I would have just posted his first Tweet and gone to lunch—and what he’s saying is that he wants the artist to share the risk. In many cases, though, the writer is the “producer” of the work, originating the idea and bringing in talent to work on it. When people are working on a shared vision, you can argue that they should share the risk, and they may very well be happy to do so. Working on another person’s project is another matter; there’s more risk (what if the writer abandons the project and there are no sales?) and, honestly, it’s more like work. In that situation, I think the artist should be paid. This doesn’t mean the artist isn’t on board with the project. This is where I think the disconnect is happening. Paying any creator does three things: It shows that you value their work, it frees them up from other work to devote themselves to your project, and it creates a sense of obligation to the person who is paying them. I would submit that paying a page rate does this more effectively than giving them a cut of the sales of the comic.

In answer to Justin’s question, “If your ONLY experience deals with artists who promise a certain level of commitment, take your hard earned money upfront only to ditch the project because it isn’t funded by some big wig publishers… What other conclusion can you come to?” I think the conclusion you can come to is you’re doing something wrong. As I said up above, the solution isn’t to stop paying artists, it’s to look for better artists. I understand that Jeremy’s approach is to find artists who are as passionate about the project as he is. I think that’s optimistic, but OK. I just don’t think paying them a page rate will dampen their ardor.

Brigid says “Paying any creator does three things: It shows that you value their work, it frees them up from other work to devote themselves to your project, and it creates a sense of obligation to the person who is paying them. I would submit that paying a page rate does this more effectively than giving them a cut of the sales of the comic.”

I don’t know what your experience is in writing comics or in paying an artist for work, but I’m guessing none. Because the second thing you mention is DEAD wrong. If an artist is being paid for three projects at the same time, then how is payment magically freeing him/her up to work on your project? The answer is, it doesn’t. It just creates another task for the artist to complete.

You’re right on the last part that it creates an obligation, but it certainly doesn’t mean that the artist will follow through on that. Comics are a business and people often treat it that way, deservedly so, which means it comes with the good and the bad.

Brigid Alverson

August 4, 2013 at 6:06 am

You’re right that I have no experience in creating comics. I do have considerable experience, however, both as a freelancer and a supervisor of freelancers when I was in book publishing and as a freelance writer over the past six years. However, I often see fund-raising pitches on Kickstarter where the creator does say they are raising money so they can devote themselves fully to the project. I wish I saw more!

I’m not following your logic here: “If an artist is being paid for three projects at the same time, then how is payment magically freeing him/her up to work on your project? The answer is, it doesn’t. It just creates another task for the artist to complete.”

Part of being a professional freelancer is managing your work flow, which means not taking on more jobs than you can handle, and my understanding is that drawing comics is more time consuming than writing them. In my ideal world, artists would be paid enough that they could work on one job at a time. I realize that’s overly optimistic, but the fact is that if an artist is over-committed, that’s the artist’s fault, and if they consistently don’t turn in work on time, or at all, they won’t be working in the field for long.

I guess what I’m thinking here is that if you pay the artist a decent page rate, with part of it up front, they can turn down other jobs and work on your project. And if the artist can’t carve out the time and energy needed to do your job, they shouldn’t take it on in the first place.

Yes, part of being a professional ANYTHING is knowing what you can manage and not taking on too much work, especially as a freelancer. But that’s not happening in the real world all of the time…and it happens quite often that people (often times freelancers) bite off more than they can chew. My logic was that you said paying an artist does three things…one of them is freeing them up to do the work. I merely mentioned that it does not guarantee that they are being freed up to do the work, specifically if they are already working on other projects. I guess your point was being miscommunicated. See how easy that can happen?

Look, I know it’s easy to take the most sensational quotes in a conversation and turn them into an op-ed piece to help garner some clicks. I also know that it’s rather unfortunate that you chose to do that instead of research the discussion a bit more and provide the full story on what was said.

Your job is to generate clicks for CBR. Congratulations on succeeding.

Once again members of the comics industry fail to actually read an article, and instead jump on the writer just from the headline and first paragraph. Read the article again, Marc Lombardi!

I mean, HONESTLY! It’s not THAT difficult to spot this is objective, but I guess people struggle with the idea of not immediately being exaggeratedly angry about the very slightest of perceived insults.

And let’s not lose focus here: Marc Lombardi’s posts here are just PR. It’s his job to try and denounce the article, because he’s a PR agent who works with Jeremy Holt. So let’s not start slinging around ‘objectivity’ here, Marc.

I’ve read it. In its entirety. And the author specifically states:

“I’m not a comics creator, but speaking as someone who has done freelance work of various types, including writing about comics and other things, for years, I think Holt has it exactly backwards. The first rule of freelancing is that paying work comes first. Love don’t pay the rent.”

and

“…[Holt] just doesn’t want to pay up front because he believes this somehow makes the artist less enthusiastic about the project. ”

She clearly has developed an opinion on what Holt tweeted but does so in a way that’s clear she either misinterpreted the full bit of what he was saying, or willfully ignored the rest of his statement & follow-up clarification. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and guess that she just misinterpreted what he was saying, much like some of the people on Twitter who responded immediately.

Steve: You couldn’t be more wrong. I’m Jeremy’s friend on Twitter. Have met him once (at Baltimore last year) and spoken with him online a bunch of times. He wrote ONE six-page story for an upcoming issue of a comic for GrayHaven that hasn’t even seen print yet. He has no association with Shadowline. He has none with GrayHaven. I don’t work with Jeremy nor am I his “PR agent” (BWA-HAHAHAHAHA!). When you get your head out of where you have it maybe you’ll understand that.

First, I would like to begin by saying to all of the artists out there: I am in awe of what you do and deeply appreciate the time and effort you put into your projects–paid and unpaid. My posts on Twitter have been read in many different ways, and I would hate for you to think I have anything less than the utmost respect for you. If my original statements came across as insensitive or unappreciative, I sincerely apologize.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about where I am coming from. To my great disappointment, I am not a full-time comic book writer–my day job provides just enough to pay the bills, and I am still paying back a mountain of college loans. Readers of my Multiversity column know this well. Over the last several years, my love for creating comics has emptied my bank account, destroyed my romantic relationships, consumed all of my free time, and made me doubt myself on countless occasions. Like so many others in this industry, I struggle to keep at it. But this is my passion, and I would not have it any other way.

The artists I work with are my co-creators, and they share both the risks and the rewards. I know that artists work every bit as hard as I do, and certainly for longer hours. That is why I always split intellectual property rights with them 50/50. Like Thelma and Louise holding hands and driving off a cliff together, we are equally invested and equally accountable.

When I first started out, I paid an artist out of pocket. After 40 pages, he stopped returning my emails, and my book hit a dead end. I had invested my time, effort, and three months’ rent for absolutely nothing. My artist, on the other hand, had made $2400 and suffered no consequences for breaking our contract.

Now, I know that this was one artist out of a million, and he is not representative of all the other conscientious, hard-working artists out there. However, the experience made me realize that I want artists to be every bit as invested in outcomes as I am. I want them to agonize over dialogue and layout and pacing just as much as I do. That way, if we are so fortunate as to have our work recognized by a publisher or even a movie studio, the artist will own half of the rights. If our comic turns into the next Walking Dead, then we are sitting on a beach sipping Mai Tais together, and if our book languishes unpublished, then we cry into our beers together.

I would like to clear up one point made by Alverson in her article. She writes, “If you’re bringing someone in to illustrate your story, you should acknowledge that making art is work and that people should be paid for the work they do for you.” This statement would be perfectly valid if I viewed myself as a boss and the artists as employees. However, this is precisely the relationship and pay structure I avoid by cutting out work-for-hire in favor of equitable collaborations.

Why is this so important to me? It is because the artists I work with make my writing better. For example, I first conceived of Cobble Hill as a horror comic, but the artist and co-creator suggested making it a young adult mystery. Her input stretched my limits as a writer and led us to produce a more original and broadly accessible final product. Likewise, the very concept for After Houdini was pitched to me by the artist and co-creator. These are exciting, engaging partnerships, and the work we produce together speaks for itself.

Other writers will continue to offer page rates–often while reducing or eliminating artists’ intellectual property rights. My intention is not to convince them or the artists they work with to alter this payment system, which clearly works for them. I simply choose to do things a different way.

Alverson suggests in closing that “the solution is not to expect the artist to work for free. The solution is to get a better artist.” I have to disagree–the artists I work with are pretty fantastic. I believe the solution is to find a financing structure that gives equal recognition to writers and artists as co-creators, without bankrupting either.

Brigid Alverson

August 4, 2013 at 11:09 am

Jeremy, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I still don’t entirely agree with you, but I understand where you’re coming from. Sometimes it’s hard to parse a Twitter conversation, especially when you’re reading it after the fact and have to go find all the different threads, so I’m happy you put your thoughts into a comment in this space.

I think we are looking at the artist-writer relationship from different ends of the transaction. You are looking for someone who is going to be involved enough in the project to share the risks and rewards with you, while I was looking at your comments and interpreting them as meaning not paying up front was somehow a way to accomplish that. I have seen writer-artist relationships that had that synergy, and it does have a different feeling to it, but I think that’s hard to come by regardless of the payment structure.

“I believe the solution is to find a financing structure that gives equal recognition to writers and artists as co-creators, without bankrupting either.” No argument there. I was talking about this a lot at Boston Comic Con yesterday, and I’m hoping to post more on the topic in the near future.

My experience is the same as Jeremy’s.

I do sort of dislike how this is being phrased – it seems to imply the idea that the artist doesn’t have a stake in the process, which is not the case for anything I’ve done. If something makes it to publication (in whatever form) the artist is co owner of the book. This would be true even for the ones I’ve paid. I don’t want or need to have sole control of copyright. The artist has never been just a hired gun, and I wouldn’t want that to be the case.

But more to the point, I’ve paid artists, and I’ve not paid artists. And in my personal experience, it’s usually worked out better when they aren’t paid. Usually, not always – I have a friend who I have paid and while we haven’t gotten any of the stuff we wanted to do off the ground, but we will, at some point.

I’ve had paid artists flake on me, and unpaid artists flake on me. In my experience, this happens more with the paid artists. And my feeling is the same as Jeremy’s – that the paid artists tended to be less in to the project.

This isn’t necessarily a causal relationship, I think, or one that can be generalized.

And, while comics has been quite good to me, I don’t pay now because I can’t. Let’s say I give the artist 200 dollars for pencils and inks per page. 50 to the colorist. 10 to the letterer. That’s, for a 22 page issue plus cover, just shy of 6,000. So 36,000 for a fairly typical six issue mini series.

That’d be my break even. Without me getting a page rate. And none of those are good rates. But hell, let’s say I can get the whole thing done for 100 a page for everything (and somehow, the quality is good enough to have a chance at selling) AND that I only go in the hole for three issues (pretty much a minimum if you want a book to come out in a timely manner) well, that’s still 6,000. And, for me, that’d also be six grand of paying work I didn’t do to do this thing. (Also true with the 36,000, although the number would still be 6,000 in opportunity cost)

(And the time and effort for the writer seem to get ignored. It is absolutely true my time investment is a fraction of what the artist puts in. It is also absolutely true that my time investment isn’t zero and, at this point, time spent working on creator owned work is time not spent on WFH. )

Which, frankly, I would probably be willing to do if I could. But I can’t. I don’t EXPECT artists to work for free, but I don’t have any problem with sharing the risks and the rewards. Anytime you don’t have money on the table, you are gambling your time. Everyone.

This kind of situation is exactly what makes me leary of giving an opinion on Twitter or anywhere else on the web. We all have opinions and not everyone will agree with EVERY opinion you have. Plus you can’t judge tone in an email or tweet or whatever, so you might read a statement with a completely different inflection than it was actually written, giving an entirely new meaning to those words.

But what’s bothered me most about this whole exchange (not just this article, but the other places this discussion has taken place) is I feel that instead of the exchange & topic becoming the subject matter, JEREMY has become the subject matter. I don’t believe it is fair that he is being singled out in all of this.

Brittany – You said you picked up on these tweets because you thought they raised some interesting issues that tie into other things you’ve been hearing. Fair enough. I am curious (and please remember there is no tone here) before you decided to run this article, did you get in contact with Jeremy and ask him for a statement, clarify his meaning, etc? I see in newspaper stories all the time when something runs the writer will say, we tried to reach so and so for comment and either they had this to say or they were unavailable.

You also say “sometimes it’s hard to parse a twitter conversation, especially when you are reading it after the fact and have to go find all the different threads.” I would say 1) that’s part of journalism and doing a story, getting all the facts. But 2) if this is the case why leave off the FIRST line of the tweet in your headline The one that gives his comment a little more context. The actual comment from Jeremy was:

“In my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.”

The headline of your story is: “…artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.”

See the difference there? Leaving off “IN MY EXPERIENCE” and only have … makes that quote a lot different than how it was originally stated. Jeremy is talking about his experience. How can anyone other than Jeremy be able to say what HIS experience has been? We can’t, he’s the only one who knows. Everyone is going to have different experiences. But it’s now ok to call him out on a comics blog because he answered a question about an experience he had? Agree or not agree with his points, that’s a different matter, but Jeremy was talking about the projects he’s worked on and what those results have yielded. Not stating this should be the way every project for everyone in comics should be.

The final thing I wanted to mention was, in your comments you mention “in many cases though, the writer is the producer of the work originating the idea…” You are correct. I would guess that is true in a lot of cases. But this article is not talking about many cases, this article has focused on Jeremy. Are you aware of what level of contribution Jeremy and the artists he works with has been? Do you know that everything was Jeremy’s idea and he just wants someone to draw it? Or is it possible that the stories he’s worked on he’s actively asked for and encouraged the artists input and ideas on the story, looking for a partner to craft a story rather than someone to just draw his idea.

This is a very interesting discussion and I am glad that people are talking about it. I just don’t like to see one person being singled out as the face of all of this.

You got 40 pages for the $2400, right? That’s 320 hours of work (conservatively) at 7.50 an hour. That’s 40 work days not producing other income. That’s a full time job that artist can’t have. That’s 8 work weeks at less than minimum wage.

The project didn’t work out but you were both invested — and because you paid him, that investment was more equally distributed.

An unpaid collaboration is NOT equal risk for writer and artist. Is that not really clear?

I’ll say it again. Brigid Alverson, you need to quit what you’re miserably attempting to do on this site and work for like minded people who feel it is better to sensationalize and manipulate the information to favor your own agenda than create an unbiased forum for conversation. And just to be clear, I didn’t bother reading your response to my post because everything you’ve printed thus far is just poison.

You are transparent and everything that is wrong with your industry.

I have worked freelance my entire life as a visual effect artist for films. And as I agree you should never work for free, this only applies to work that is supposed to be your primary source of income OR work you simply want to make some extra cash on and could care less about the project. But when it comes to particular pieces of work that speak to you and fuel that spark inside, as an artist, you make that conscious choice to be apart of something YOU believe is special and worth your time, skill sets and attention. Money is the last thing on your mind.

To cheapen that choice by an artist and vilify it is petty and downright ignorant.

I applaud the artists that have created successful relationships with Jeremy and the rising success of Jeremy’s work to date. Jeremy and his artist’s passion and hearts are in the right place and that is everything in the world of creator owned comics.

I’m in the same boat as Justin; I simply can’t afford to pay an entire crew for a book up front. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with a few talented people who understand the risk of working on a creator-owned project. My very first dealing with a freelance artist who is recognizable in certain circles almost took me for a ride for 1500 bucks. Basically, we worked out a deal for rate for 6 pages (pencils and inks) for around $1500 bucks. When I asked him about working past that, he stunned me by saying, “I said I’d do your submission pages, I never agreed to do anything after that…”

I’ve worked with back end workers ever since.

In the defense of my artistic brethren, Co-ownership is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t feed you or pay the mortgage.
I do feel Jeremy has been beat up a little bit too much in all of this. Everyone makes choices. If you can’t afford to pay someone to draw your book, and you can come up with an equitable agreement that satisfies both parties, then it’s no one elses business. Everyone has their concerns about how work is produced. It’s relative. Richard, I’m sorry to hear about your misfortune on your project, however. That’s a hard thing to get past, especially if you can’t find someone to match the style of the original artist to complete the work.
The artist has a responsibilty in this as well. If you don’t want to work on something for free, don’t work on it. Most full time comic artists aren’t in the position to take on a massive amount of spec work.

I’ve had tons of opportunities to do creator owned projects but for the most part refused them because I can’t financially take the hit. Art takes time to produce. Writing is very difficult but a good comics page is a 9+ hour endevour just for pencils. you sacrifice weekends, holidays, time you could be spending with your family to do so. So for me, i need to make money from it. it’s a nessesity. if it weren’t for Kickstarter i never would have gotten Molly Danger done in the time frame that i did. it would have taken another year if i had to fit in freelance work to pay the bills.

I think what irks me about this whole thing is that Jeremy gets unfairly beat up over people misinterpreting what he said on Twitter, CBR gets a buttload of clicks because of this article and Brigid gets to keep this dreck up here without having to post any sort of correction or retraction. Three terrible things because someone decided to inaccurately sensationalize something she has no clue about (hiring a comic artist).

I couldn’t agree more Marc.

What Brigid doesn’t seem to understand is that regardless of what her stance is on this topic, she knowingly manipulated her article to serve herself and use Jeremy as collateral damage.

Her reckless and irresponsible journalism has subsequently tarnished Jeremy’s image and reputation and this is inexcusable.

She either needs to issue a retraction or apology or should resign her position as wannabe writer.

She’s playing a lot of readers as puppets and it needs to be corrected NOW.

The poor journalism in this article is pretty disappointing. I come to expect articles like this from other sites, but not this one.

Jeremy’s gone through a lot to get to where he currently is. His personal experiences and mistakes have brought him into a position where he’s collaborating with several artists on several projects. He’s clearly doing the only thing that works for him based on his personal experiences. And it is working.

I would’ve expected some research and interviews before writing an article like this, but that would require some actual journalism.

If Brigid had any integrity, she would properly acknowledge where she went wrong.

This is the tough, tough reality of creator-owned and independently produced comics.

I’m very much in Jeremy’s boat, and I’ve experienced the ups and downs of paying talent and of not paying them.

The comic that first got me noticed was drawn for free by a very good friend of mine. This comic literally got me the opportunity to write for DC, which has subsequently helped me get a lot more paying work-for-hire. However, the comic we were producing was…ambitious, and my friend clearly never quite had the same level of ambition for it that I did. His interest in the project eventually petered out, we only ever completed two issues of twelve, and we only ever printed the one. We’ve agreed that I now own the rights, but who knows if that’ll ever really get done.

My webcomic, Hunter Black, is also being done with a friend, and that is going strong. It’s clearly a labor of love for us both, because we’re not making any money at it. We’re almost at the point of trying to print of a collection and we’re debating the merits of doing a Kickstarter to fund it…but I’m not in a producer’s role.

I AM in the producer’s role for the comic I’ve got coming out on Comixology Submit. (Rocket Queen and The Wrench! Buy it!!!) I’m paying the artist, the colorist, and the letterer out of pocket. I’ve shelled out THOUSANDS so far, and I’ve yet to see a dime. My terms are fair, I think. I pay the team, I hopefully recoup my losses, I pay myself a page rate, and then we share in the profits…although I get a larger percentage for assuming the risk. The art is coming out slowly but surely, but there is definitely a sense that I’m more invested than my collaborator.

On the other hand, I’m beginning ANOTHER comic we hope to publish. My Hunter Black collaborator and I have hired a third party to do the art, and so far, that’s going very well. We’re paying half the page rate upfront and half upon completion of each issue. Our collaborator has been up front with us about HIS passion project, which he’s working on concurrently, and we’ve been flexible about scheduling and stuff, and it seems as though he’s pretty dialed in. He gets the same terms as my Rocket Queen collaborator in terms of back-end ownership…he gets a sizable chunk but we get more.

They way, I see it, comics creators are PEOPLE and different people will be motivated by different things. I would love it if I had more collaborators sharing more of the risk with me. (So would my wife and my landlord.) But I also know that while my collaborators are working on my books, I’m also working a day job and doing work-for-hire for mainstream comics and animation.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this dilemma, except in hindsight, and even then, the rightness of a choice is tied directly to the completion and success of a project.

(Note: I posted this same comment to the article on Comics Beat that led me to this one. Read my comics.)

:)

If any of your scripts were half as entertaining as your calls for Brigid Alverson — a working journalist who somehow manages to do her job without whining about how she has to exploit people — to resign, you’d all be giant writing superstars. I suspect that if you were, you’d find other ways not to pay people for working with you.

There is no moral force behind the idea that you get over, let alone that you get over without cost or criticism.

Writing is hard. Getting people on board to execute your work or to partner with you at a professional standard for a few thousand dollars is a price point that thousands of playwrights and screenwriters would kill for. It is not the only way to become a writer of comics, but it’s hardly an unfair one. Writing is also hard in that if you make public your choices, there’s a chance that people are going to criticize their implications. If you have found a way to avoid that cost of entry, and want to talk about it in public, you run certain risks — risks of people telling you you’re awesome, risks of people telling you you suck, risks of people telling you that you raise some interesting issues.

Also, if you’re paying someone that didn’t complete work, that’s on you. What kind of stupid-ass contract is that? That’s not the basis of a philosophical rejection of advance pay, that’s a rejection of agreeing to pay people that don’t finish their work. Don’t do that.

I suppose that writing an Op-Ed piece opens one up to the same sorts of criticism, Tom. Goose, gander., etc.

I don’t think anyone is asking for her to resign (which is a stupid request). I just think people are saying that the coverage of this “story” is being twisted in this article. It’s most definitely a subject worth discussing and possibly even debating. But I stand by my belief that Jeremy is being unfairly beat up over this when 1) he was being honest regarding his own personal experiences and 2) his words are being purposefully miscommunicated, specifically in the sensationalizing headline.

Sure, criticize her piece all you want. I’m not saying it’s horrible to criticize her, that it’s off the boards entirely, only that the degree (someone did call for her to apologize or resign) and the content of that criticism isn’t rigorous or particularly bright. I wouldn’t suggest she gets a free pass because she’s being honest about her position, for example.

And good lord, that’s not a sensationalizing headline; that’s a quote! And it’s a quote that expresses a specific thought that’s at the heart of the original post, a thought that has not been backed away from! What’s a proper headline, that quote plus “although there are probably a lot more things going on, too, and on balance this person is probably a good-hearted person that would bring you cookies and put them in your mailbox when your dog dies”?

Comics has this weird thing where everything is SUPER AWESOME or THE WORST EVER, which seems to have now become YOU ARE TOTALLY A BACKER OF ME or YOU ARE TOTALLY ATTACKING ME. It’s silly. Dude said some stuff, isn’t backing down. Brigid notes the implications, which given the history of comics and exploitation seems perfectly reasonable to me! No one needs to cry foul.

“And good lord, that’s not a sensationalizing headline; that’s a quote”

That’s a quote in pretty much the exact same sense that this is a quote:

“Given the history of comics…exploitation seems perfectly reasonable to me!” – Tom Spurgeon. Edited to make it sound different than what he actually said, for sensationalist purposes. You, as a journalist, ought to be offended by that.

Tom, if you can’t see the difference between the implications of
‘… artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.’
and
‘From my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project’
then I don’t know what to tell you.

Paul D. Storrie

August 5, 2013 at 7:03 am

Very often these discussions are framed as if the writer is a publisher, which is most often not the case. However, the writer often (though not always) is expected to take on the role of publisher/editor/agent/PR person and more.

The writer on a creator-owned comic (even when it’s co-owned with the artist) is often expected to be the one finding a publisher, figuring out additional revenue streams, doing promotion, dealing with the printer (if the project isn’t place with a publisher), and performing a host of other duties. While that doesn’t necessarily bump the writer’s time-investment up to that of the artist, it’s often not as big a divide as it’s often painted. The writer often has to wear a whole lot of other hats that brings the time-investment closer.

Beyond that, I find it disturbing how often find these discussions disturbing for their tendency to want to portray writers as conniving villains. (Even more disturbing is how often some writers pick up their torches and pitchforks to join the mob to hound their fellow writers.) That is, people often portray comics writers as actively looking to take advantage of the poor, innocent, naive artist, all the while twirling their mustachios and somehow reaping great rewards (in a venture that seldom pays off big for either party). Very often nobody comes out of creator-owned collaborations with any extra money in the bank.

(Also disturbing to see how often artists are characterized as gullible naifs unable to get their heads out of the clouds long enough to see what nastiness the nefarious writers are perpetrating on them. I’m surprised more artists don’t take offense at that infantilizing portrayal!)

Most writers who don’t pay upfront don’t because they can’t. They’re not looking for someone to take advantage of. They’re not scam artists. They’re looking for a creative partner to collaborate with. Someone to share both risks and rewards.

That being the case, it’s troubling how often in these discussions focus on the idea that if an artist doesn’t get paid upfront it devalues their work, while the same isn’t said for a writer that has to work on spec. The writer’s work has value too and that work (ignoring the many additional hats previous mentioned) is more than putting words on a page.

Much is made too about the time involved in writing a page of script vs. drawing one. Yes, there can be a pretty dramatic discrepancy there. But what people most often mean by “writing a page of script” is “typing a page of script.” They’re talking about the time it takes to put the words on the page, not the time it takes to come up with the words to put down. That ignores the time and energy it takes to develop an idea into a story and then turn that story into a script. They’re ignoring the time spent rewriting to make sure that script is the best it can be. While veteran comics writers can certainly speed up this process due to their experience, there’s still more time involved than many in these discussions want to concede.

Ultimately, I think Jamal’s remarks about working creator-owned on spec strike at the core of the issue. (Having known Jamal for a long time now, I find his remarks often strike at the core of an issue.) If, as an artist, you can’t afford to work on spec, DON’T. You have to be responsible and do what you have to do to keep a roof over your (and your family’s) head, keep food on the table, etc.

The same is true for writers and funding a comic though. If you can’t afford to do so, then don’t. Be responsible. Be sensible. Be smart.

And maybe, when these discussions come up, we should stop focusing on trying to paint one ‘side’ or the other as the bad guy and maybe focus on the sad fact that there’s so little money to be made in comics that many still end up doing it for free (or losing movey), even after they’ve reached a publishable level of skill.

Rather than spending time trying to find fault in a perfectly fine article, perhaps we’d all be far better off weighing the merits of what the article says, and progressing the discussion?

After all, Jeremy himself managed to make his points clearly and evenly in this very comments section without resorting to complaining about Brigid and attempting to devalue the article. Everyone should follow his lead, surely.

Paul D. Storrie

August 5, 2013 at 7:09 am

Always a joy to find a glaring mistake *after* you hit “Publish Comment.”

First sentence of the third paragraph should read: Beyond that, I find these discussions disturbing for their tendency to want to portray writers as conniving villains.

The title is accurate, it is a part of what Jeremy wrote. “From my experience” is redundant. It’s Jeremy making the statement so of course it’s from his experience. Brigid could have put Jeremy’s name in the headline too, but the headline grabs you enough to see who wrote it and get the rest of his tweets and responses.

Don’t hate on Brigid because Jeremy wrote something inflammatory. It generated a lot of responses on twitter even before Brigid picked it up didn’t it? Now it’s generating a lot of comments on here too and the conversation is longer than 140 characters. This is a good thing as Jeremy and others are able to go into more details on the issue.

I’ll say this about comics and the community — you have writers coming to support the side of the writers, artists coming to support the side of the artists and journalists coming to support the side of the writer of the article. We certainly are a tad predictable. :-)

I like to think of the comics industry as being very much like West Side Story, only the rumbles happen in comment threads rather than down alleyways

This article is irresponsible. You should delete it. I come to this site for journalism and insightful commentary(which I usually get)….But this is just one-sided mud slinging.

It seems like a really shitty standard for professional conduct all around. Basically saying “I can’t afford to pay you for labor so I won’t and even if I did it’s been my experience that I can’t trust artists to fulfill their professional obligations the minute I start paying them.” I can sort of see the idea that if you offer a collaborator a stake in something and that is their motivation for signing on then maybe you have a better chance of getting people who have a genuine passion and belief in that work. But again, that is a shitty status quo and one that can lead to all sorts of exploitation . To frame it as an either or, passion or pay is odious. Adding, “in my experience” doesn’t change that. Because it isn’t arguing for a better industry where pay and passion are the aim. Rather than “try harder” it as an argument for settling because after all, up front pay would just be “corrosive.”

Its disturbing that so many top pros are teaching up and coming creators that writing has very little tangible value and that drawn art isn’t as valuable as the time it takes to make it. Stop to think about the lessons you are teaching the next generation. We’re not even talking about the value of the work or creating stories with no restrictions or building a collaborative team. We’re talking about punching a clock on a gig.

When is a writer allowed to get paid for their art? Ever?

I also find it disgusting that Jeremy Holt’s tweets were taken out of context and twisted around to make him seem like a villain. This article is not being honest or accurate. He’s a good guy and a fair creator.

I don’t know Jeremy Holt and I don’t know it he’s a “good guy,” and frankly I don’t care. Nobody cares. Being a “good guy” has been a deflection against serious conversation in the comic book industry for decades and it is over now. It’s bad policy and he said it, he mean what he said and the comic book industry needs to behave like adults for once in its history. I don’t think how Holt treats you when you shook his hand at Comic-Con matters. I don’t even think the relative quality (good or bad) of his work matters. This is a discussion about business practices not how “nice” and “good” a person supposedly is.

Most of the comments in this thread ave been completely embarrassing to read. I cringe at the fearsome and angry way some of these commenters have flocked to discredit even the notion of grappling with why Holt’s statements were so troubling to observers. It’s obvious that many of the respondents here would rather quickly exclaim that a person is “a good guy” than consider for even a moment that even “good intentions” can lead to poisonous policy.

In a perfect world, everyone would be paid their true worth. Artists would be making $300+ per page. Colorists, inkers and letterers would be paid their fair share as well (AND be given cover credit for their work, and not in a smaller font than the artist & writer). But in this perfect world, who is paying everyone? Surely not the writer, because what makes the world so perfect for him/her then?

The reality, and sad truth, is that not every writer can afford to pay the rest of a creative team their true worth. So when reality hits, deals must be made. Whether those deals are back-end pay with 50/50 ownership, smaller, negotiated rates or some combination in between. The simple truth is that NO ONE is forced into working on a project in which they don’t want to (specifically in creator-owned work). No one can be forced into a WFH deal they’re not happy with.

Jeremy has discussed this situation in this thread, on his podcast and his articles. I stand by my statement that this article is not accurate or representative of what he said, and is misrepresenting his position.

We’re not talking about pro creators working for publishers. We’re talking about up and comming creators, still learning craft who are self publishing and TRYING to get a foot into the door by producing work that someone might notice.

I’m disturbed by the lack of respect for the craft of writing. Maybe artists should just go all 90s style and write their own stories again? That worked out well the first time.

I also stand by my statement that artists/writers/creatives should value their finished work, the creative control of creator owned projects and focus on building a career through craft and collaboration, more than billing their hourly time like a manual laborer.

Look through the history of art and find me one example of a great artist getting paid well when they were still learning their craft and they were just a “nobody”? Every great creative person has put in thousands of unpaid hours before anyone knew who they were or noticed their work. That’s how an artist grows and becomes great. It weeds out the hobbyists from the pros. Art isn’t a get rich quick scheme like some would like it to be. Its passion that can pay off down the road if you work hard.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but:

~Kickstarter~

There is literally no excuse not to pay your team. You love your comic idea so much: vouch for it with money. You think you’re hot stuff: pay your professionals.

This is what is wrong with independent arts in general: too many people hanging on, talking about “love” and not talking about the professionalism. Professionals charge for their work and professionals get paid. You want to do comics for free out of some weird sense of “love?” Then make a photocopied minicomic and get a table next to me at MoCCA. But I *thought* you folks wanted this to be your profession.

And frankly: if a comic artist wants to work for ~no pay~ they’re more likely to do so on their own project. That’s right: artists can write too.

(That’s what I call “flipping a script!”)

Ayo: Your mileage may vary. I know quite a few artists willing to work for no pay on a project they believe in with a writer they like working with. Moreso than those working on their own solo projects. I think that’s the key point here that many folks are taking Jeremy’s comments as an across-the-board blanket statement about all artists. No one here should be foolish enough to think that every writer or artist work the same way.

And I agree…Kickstarter is a great place to get a project going. But good luck creating the basics of what is needed for a Kickstarter campaign without the artist already being on board. How else are you going to show potential backers what to expect?

how bout writers pay their artists, and artists pay their writers? So now that we’re back to zero, get back to busting your ass because you love comics and making some awesome work that someone might notice.

I’d love to see artists write their own stories. Lets prove the 90s wrong.

“From my experience” is somewhere between a redundancy and added information — its omission doesn’t change the quote, it personalizes it and in fact reinforces it by suggesting a source. Brigid’s piece is about the implication of the statement as a practice, not that the speaker is speaking outside the bounds of his experience. If Brigid had written a giant article about how this person wasn’t speaking from experience, you would have just nailed her.

Nice try, though. Well, sort of nice try. Okay, no, kind of a lame try. My quote made me laugh, though. If the missing piece is “from my personal experience” I am a total asshole!

One solution might be to just ask artists if you can work on their projects for free. That happens, right? I can’t imagine that getting turned down. Let them figure out their own page rate. Find a project you love!

I think that words like “corrosive” are pretty unambiguous and don’t really require sifting through a ton of supplementary material.

I don’t have a problem with the idea of co-authorship. I do have an idea about an assumption that because there are two people that 50/50 is equitable. Talking about the love and passion and creator ownership all sidesteps important considerations that are worth including in this sort of conversation. And looking at those considerations is not an insult to writers or some sort of cynical affront to the artform. Because the practical reality is that a single comic may very well require a greater investment of time, labor, and material for one party than the other. And often that is the artist. Leveling out that investment in terms of compensatory measures like upfront pay is what you do if you truly are interested in equitable creative partnerships. The problem is that when you start out by implying that this sort of concern represents a mercenary corrosive attitude you are helping to maintain a framework that perpetuates exploitation. Even if you are a good guy who just means the best.

Tom: You mention that “Brigid’s piece is about the implication of the statement as a practice, not that the speaker is speaking outside the bounds of his experience. If Brigid had written a giant article about how this person wasn’t speaking from experience, you would have just nailed her.”

The article certainly intended to bring up the very topic of artists getting paid for their work. And it’s a valid topic. Where I find fault is her insertion of baseless speculation from reading some tweets out of context, such as this humdinger that Brigid wrote: “The attitude that emanates from Holt’s Tweets is that artists should be doing it for love, not money, which seems like a poor grounding for a business relationship.”

So by all means, you can continue to support the integrity of your friend while I support the integrity of mine.

Marc, it’s a bad idea to accuse Tom Spurgeon of deferring to “friends.” Spurgeon has never seemed to back down from criticising his peers. I don’t sense that kind of commitment to truthful inquiry in your statements. You’re the one who cares who is friends with who. Tom (and myself for that matter) are talking about what was said and talking about what that means in a professional context.

Ayo: I think I’ve made it very clear in every comment I’ve made here that I think artists deserve payment when it’s what they want. Just as I think that writers who cannot affort payment have a right to ask artists to work with them on back end deals and those artists have every right to respond with a hearty “%$&# off.”

I have paid artists for their work and I was worked with artists who were paid nothing. I’ve had nothing but fantastic experiences with both. My “support” of Jeremy is not letting it stand when someone bashes him for words being taken out of context. In reading what he said both on Twitter and in this very comment section I can’t say that I disagree with his assessment of his own personal working experience.

I merely refered to Alverson as Spurgeon’s friend because of this interview – http://www.comicsreporter.com/index.php/cr_holiday_interview_201/ — Nothing devious was intended.

Ayo – kickstarter is not an automatic route for financial backing on a project. by putting your project up on their site doesn’t automatically mean its going to be funded.

if it is funded, fantastic. but on MANY cases that it isn’t, what then? paul said it best:

“Most writers who don’t pay upfront don’t because they can’t. They’re not looking for someone to take advantage of. They’re not scam artists. They’re looking for a creative partner to collaborate with. Someone to share both risks and rewards.”

jamie – you couldnt be more wrong, the quote Brigid wrote was as accurate as a blind person trying to describe the color purple. Leaving out “From my experience,” is everything when you read ALL of the negative backlash from folks on twitter and even the beginning of this thread the moment this sorry excuse for an article was released. She left the beginning out intentionally to gain controversy, period. It’s as clear as day. It would be like taking the statement, “I heard from a friend that asian people cannot be trusted.” and publishing the headline, “… Asian people cannot be trusted.”

Is the beginning of the quote redundant?

The read sad fact is that Brigid has already poisoned the well. And unless CBR or herself mans up and takes responsibility for this MASSIVE mistake, then she WILL do it again to someone else, and another and another. I see a lot of folks on here backing up Jeremy because they know him personally and know he is a good guy. And yes, Jeremy’s character and disposition shouldn’t have any relevance to the topic at hand. But BRIGID ALVERSON made it personal when she casually published this article and focused the attention on Jeremy rather than the topic itself.

The fact that people are rallying behind Jeremy to defend him is proof in the pudding. What many of you who are indifferent to this gesture don’t realize is that Creator-owned comics IS PERSONAL. These people pour their blood sweat and tears into their work, sacrifice incredible amounts into this passion. So when a hack of a writer strolls along to intentionally kick out one of their legs in the house of cards they impressively manage to maintain… ITS PERSONAL.

quotes from twitter:

“daaaaang :( he’s working with one of my favorite artists on a project and now i don’t know whether to read it or not”

“This Jeremy Holt guy sucks. ‘… artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.’ ”

“if he’s a good guy, he could prove it with an apology. I’m really sick of writers acting like this.”

“It’s weird to me to see such a cool guy be just so very wrong on something fundamental to the industry. Frustrating.”

“now he can prove how cool he is by reversing his stance.”

“Thank you, Nolan. It’s good to know this. The context here might be wonky.”

““From my experience” is somewhere between a redundancy and added information — its omission doesn’t change the quote, it personalizes it and in fact reinforces it by suggesting a source. ”

Sure. I mean, it’s not true, but I can see you’ve decided this your hill.

“Brigid’s piece is about the implication of the statement as a practice, not that the speaker is speaking outside the bounds of his experience. If Brigid had written a giant article about how this person wasn’t speaking from experience, you would have just nailed her.”

Well, no. I said the title of the piece twists the context and is meant to be sensational. Which it is. Removing the beginning of it is deceptive at best, and certainly makes it sound worse. For one thing, it changes it into Jeremy making a declaritive statement.

And I don’t know that Brigid chose the title, so that may well be on her. But she certainly chose to use Jeremy as the focal point of this piece, when she could have quite easily done so without saying why. And it’s absolutely fair to criticize her for that, just as it’s fair game to point out that she only posted replying tweets that were against Jeremy.

Of course, it’s also not an onjective piece – she has a point of view and wrote the article around it. Which is well within her rights. But don’t act as if this is some sort of fair and objective piece of journalism when it clearly isn’t.

Very simply put, this person is a moron.

Work, that of the artist or the writer- is LABOR. If you are working at a professional level it is RIDICULOUS to assume that the “love ” of the project in any way influences the quality of your output. you are INSULTING the individual whom you expect to work gratis because they “love” your project.

I love a lot of projects but I’m not opening my laptop for free. Sorry.

If you require love in order to create professional level work, you are not a professional, however talented you may be. Only amateurs and neophytes connect “inspiration” or “love” with excellence.

When i have been unable to pay an artist I have offered them a large percentage of the either the actual copyright (50/50 with my partner-in-comics, TODD HARRIS) or of the sales of any ensuing project we make. That is ALWAYs the case.

Matching my salary as a writer would be prohibitive for most little companies or individuals trying to break in to get near paying. When working in comics I am ALWAYS taking a pay cut. But i am always paid. Period. On those EXTREMELY rare incidences where no money was exchanged, there was ALWAYS some other payment- an exchange-in-kind. Because I am a professional.

Both Todd and I were to charge our FULL salaries to companies like DARK HORSE we would never work. But Dark Horse (for example) never even considered the notion that we would not be paid SOMETHING for our work. And we were. And it’s a good deal all around.

Did we love our work less? No. Did we work less aggressively because of the lower (massively lower) salary? Nope. But we are professionals and, when we work, money WILL exchange hands. Money or some other form of payment upon which all parties agree.

If guys like this approach you to work with them, make a vapor trail in the other direction. They are posers and it is not unlikely that they will waste your time and you will never see a dime for your efforts.

“Love” is not a factor when dealing with a professional. If you are not dealing with professionals (previously paid or not) you are not in the game.

This dude can stick it.

And you can tell him I said so.

Justin the piece is fair. Those were his words and those links lead to more of his words. You’re not contributing to any meaningful dialogue you’re just getting testy because…you think it’s unfair for folks to be held in any way accountable for their words. Too bad. He said it. He’s accountable.

Justin, sorry your friend is getting some backlash from his own statements. But that’s on him, not on Brigid.

Jeremy was already getting backlash prior to Brigid reporting on this.

The problem for writers isn’t whether they pay or don’t pay their artists, and the result that has on their commitment to their project. Their problem is in finding the right artists. What paying an artist up front does, is allow you to access a higher caliber of professional. Note I said professional and not artist. There are some fantastic non professional artists out there, and they will remain non professional because they don’t have what it takes to respect deadlines and to put in their best effort on every job. Pay them or not paying them makes little difference, they just aren’t up to the task even though their work make look great when you are shown select works they actually cared about.

Paying, and thus gaining ACCESS to those who do it for a living, those who have a work history you can see, is a whole different ball game. They have a reputation they care about because they are in this for the long haul. Not just your project, but their careers. At this point, absolutely, paying them allows them to focus on your book. Whether or not yours is the only book they are working on, it means they don’t have to pay the bills by working in the salt mines, and that means they can work on making comics. Professionals rarely flake out because they are thinking not just about the money they got from you and the commitment they made by accepting it, but also every paid job they might not get down the road if they flake out and ruin their reputation. The artist that walked away from a project after a couple thousand dollars spent would NEVER have done that if they had a professional career. Comics, in the end, is a small community. That kind of behavior gets around.

If you are counting on getting a non flaking, just as dedicated to your project as you are, non professional artist, you are asking to win the lottery. Deciding that not paying an artist is somehow a test to see if they have what it takes to commit themselves to the project, does nothing of the sort. Maybe you have lucked out in the past and it seems like it works, but I assure you, all you’ve really done is limit your choices of artists.

Ayo – agree to disagree

Jamie – there still needs to be some accountability held on the part of pour journalism by the person tossing this stuff into the air. there is no doubt that Brigid has her own agenda and placed that before unbiased journalism.

geoff – simply put, youre a moron. if youre a professional and have no love what what you do i feel sorry for you.

“If you require love in order to create professional level work, you are not a professional..”

that is quite possibly the stupidest thing I have ever read. I create academy award winning work and I would wholeheartedly say that my BEST work I’ve done has a tremendous amount of love put into it. Why else would I do it? Any art that doesn’t have love put into it is terrible art. What else do you need to create professional level work? A fat paycheck? Hugs? A firm handshake?

I discard your entire post because of that one idiotic declaration.

The two take-a-ways from this post seem to be 1) Pay artists 2) Don’t work with Marc Lombardi.

@Justin: out of curiosity, what Academy Award winning work have you created?

Jay – I really hope you aren’t serious with your comment. The takeaway from this discussion would be that there is there is no right or wrong way to make a comic. You can’t box it in to “this is how it does or should work for everyone.” The creators involved should come to a mutual decision and that should only be up to the creators involved. I’ve done it both ways and in my experience they’ve each had their pros and cons. But each instance was what myself and collaborators agreed upon and everyone was happy.

And what I take away from Marc’s post is he believed that this article was not 100% truthful and decided to stand up and try and correct those errors. I don’t see anything wrong with that. Marc is allowed his opinion, we are allowed to debate him and in the end we are allowed to agree to disagree. But I don’t think it means he is the type of guy you should never work with. That is exactly the kind of attitude I fear an article or debate on twitter like this can bring out in people. I don’t want to see that happen to Jeremy either. The only way we can know if it’s a good idea to work with any of these guys is to either collaborate with them ourselves or ask the people they’ve worked with.

well stated jesse.

lenny – i dont want to shift the conversation away from what this entire thread is about so id rather keep details about myself out. what ive worked on doesnt matter in this open forum discussion. Just trying to prove a point to Geoff Thorne.

argument read, understood and…

meh.

Who hasn’t been burned by a flaky artist? How many artists have been burned by flaky writers? or publishers? Let’s see a show of hands. That’s not a function of “love” or “enthusiasm.” It’s a function of working with amateurs.

As I said, REAL professionals may be enthusiastic about your project but that enthusiasm or lack thereof is not a component of delivering excellent work. That expectation- that their eyes will bug out in wonder over your next stellar project is certainly pleasant if fulfilled but it is neither necessary nor desirable at the outset.

What’s desired is a track record of meeting deadlines according to contract and a visual representation of the results on those jobs, quality-wise. And whoever’s hiring doing the due diligence to CALL the former employers to see what actually happened on a given project. Etc.

A pro brings their A Game, regardless. Talent doesn’t make a professional. Never dropping below a certain– hopefully extremely high– standard of output makes a professional. As does payment.

Maybe this thing got blown up by an overzealous reporter or maybe it’s a guy who shot his mouth off the wrong way doing damage control. Doesn’t really matter. As stated in the actual article, the sentiment expressed is crap and it is shared by a lot of so-called creators. I know because I spend a certain amount of time banging their heads together in the real world.

It’s that sentiment that gets my back up. The individual expressing it is, at best, secondary.

As I said- when I work with my partner we are BOTH taking massive pay cuts. Nether of us can afford to hire the other so we share the work load and any potential benefit from that work. This is an exchange in kind. But it would be foolish to think I could work that way with others. Todd’s my best friend.

When I am NOT working with Todd I either pay– ACTUAL money– or I split the dividends of sales and that means ALL sales. No one works for free and no one should expect, as a some sort of rule of thumb, that any professional would want to or else be dubbed to be “only in it for the check.”

I’ve done lots of jobs “for the paycheck.” I defy anyone to figure which jobs they were. Pros give 100%. Unless they’re hacks.

If this guy found the right model for him and his collaborators, awesome. Truly.

But, as presented in the article, his “solution” is the one he felt should be the rule.

You can see why that would stir tempers because it absolutely should not.

wow… i got a good laugh from your post.

never once has jeremy stated anything as being a “rule”. this is what Brigid has deviously implied hoping half wits like yourself would fall into her trap. well played.

futhermore, you sound like the worst professional ive ever heard of.

“What’s desired is a track record of meeting deadlines according to contract and a visual representation of the results on those jobs, quality-wise. And whoever’s hiring doing the due diligence to CALL the former employers to see what actually happened on a given project. Etc.”

are you even an artist? that has got to be the more corporate loaded statement ive ever read. i got bored after “track record”.

“A pro brings their A Game, regardless. Talent doesn’t make a professional. Never dropping below a certain– hopefully extremely high– standard of output makes a professional. As does payment. ?

*facepalm*

in the world of ART, TALENT IS EVERYTHING. anybody can hit a deadline, its not rocket science.

you’re so turned around that i dont even know where to begin.

“Who hasn’t been burned by a flaky artist? How many artists have been burned by flaky writers? or publishers? Let’s see a show of hands. That’s not a function of “love” or “enthusiasm.” It’s a function of working with amateurs”

so youre saying well known seasoned artists and publishers are amateurs?

its really a function of these artists taking advantage of writers who have no safety net…. promising a product casually and exploiting the situation because they know there are no consequences.

” That expectation- that their eyes will bug out in wonder over your next stellar project is certainly pleasant if fulfilled but it is neither necessary nor desirable at the outset.”

so you desire a apathetic talentless hack who cares only about hitting deadlines… hmmmm… that sounds AWESOME. best of luck to ya… youre not going to last very long in this world of art.

I’m not a half wit and I’m not turned around. I don’t recast other people’s words into poor paraphrases in order to vent my spleen. What i said is very clear and clearly stated. No need for you to make paraphrases out of it.

You’re losing ground when you resort to that stuff.

In the “world of professional artists” “talent” is barely the entrance fee. Those who proclaim otherwise are simply announcing they are neophytes (at best.).

Art is the result of work. Not flashes of inspiration and mutual cheerleading. When engaging in Commercial Art, as ALL who participate in any version of American comics do, you are either a professional or you are a joke.

Your talent might get some pros to shake their heads in pity as you thrash around trying to find inspiration in the bushes but it will not make you one of them. Not by itself. Talent is like stories. Everyone in the game has some.

Big deal.

Professional status is conveyed upon those who get PAID for their work and on those, while being paid, who behave like adults, i.e. adhering to the points of whatever contract they have signed. It’s not wobbly. It’s not touchy-feely. It’s often not about “enthusiasm,” though it can very much be. Most of us certainly love to get caught up in whatever project we’re on, I would imagine. But getting caught up is a perk, not the goal. And it’s not the fuel either.

It’s about making a promise of excellence and fulfilling it.

That promise is part of an exchange. Money (or some other agreed-upon compensation) for service. Just as it is in every other profession in which high skill is required to complete an objective.

You’re setting up some fairly weird and unrealistic straw men and I think it might be good for you step away from the keyboard and reconsider your position. You are not being a good advocate.

I’ve neither said nor implied most of what you seem to be mad about.

As for the relative shortness of my career in the Arts: i’ll take my chances.

Isn’t tweeting just belching out whatever thought hits you at a certain moment?

I honestly don’t get texting and tweeting.

But, now, Jeremy has PR to make a comic based on his twitter whirlwind and I’m sure artists ( who are now reading this all over the web ) would be interested in doing a little 3 book thing on it..

Next week it’ll be something else we’re passionately arguing about…

There’s a comic concept in all this twitter outrage.

Jesse: I appreciate the kind words. However, they’re unnecessary. “Jay” is likely just an angry fanboy with no stake in the matter. And even if he WAS a comic creator, he needs people like me way more than I need people like him. The Internet is jam-packed with white-knuckled blowhards like him. They can say whatever they want…no harm to me.

Justin: There’s no such remark as “agree to disagree,” Justin. That reads as “shut up, I can’t keep up with you in this argument.”

And I agree, you were flailing badly. Your bad.

Geoff: The point of your comments I want to take issue with is essentially why a lot of people here are taking issue with this article. You took Jeremy’s words to have different meaning than they did. For example, in your comments you say:

“But, as presented in the article, his “solution” is the one he felt should be the rule.”

The entire conversation on twitter was about “HIS” experience. Never once was Jeremy talking about that he feels this is the way everything should always be done, nor was he saying this is way he would like to do things for the rest of his career. He is talking about the experiences he’s had and the results they’ve yielded and he’s talking about what he can do at the current moment. I now present to you some of the “other” comments Jeremy made that have not been reported and surely were missed by most people who have read this article.

” Ah! Yeah, sorry. A bit of miscommunication on my part. I do believe my teams should get paid.”

“Which is why I take little to nothing on the back end. I just want to complete projects.”

“I will say that this is my approach. Whether it’s right or wrong is certainly debatable.”

“That’s true but that’s been a bad investment for me. Just going off my experiences.”

The topic Jeremy brings up is certainly worth time discussing, but the I think the issue the people have who are defending Jeremy is that his words were taken out of context and turned around to make it seem like he feels this is a blanket statement of how all writers and comics should be, when that’s not the case. In fact, I know that quite a few people who are defending Jeremy, don’t actually agree with his comments, so what he said is not what they are defending.

Geoff, you also said in your comment:

“If this guy found the right model for him and his collaborators, awesome. Truly.”

This is ALL that Jeremy has been pointing out. That when he’s done projects the paid way, things didn’t work out so well for HIM. When he’s done projects the no pay way, where he is collaborating with artists and building the stories together, he’s had a much more enjoyable experience. So sure, argue the merits of his methods, but how we can vilify someone for their experiences. Jeremy is not forcing these people to work with him. They are choosing to. So if they all come to this agreement, who cares? It should be between them and no one else. But again this article focuses more on Jeremy than the topic and that is the main issue a lot of people have, at least I do. Even Brigid in a comment after Jeremy got a chance to reply said:

“Jeremy, thanks for your thoughtful comments. I still don’t entirely agree with you, but I understand where you’re coming from.”

In my opinion if she had understood where Jeremy was coming from BEFORE she wrote the article, the article might have been written in a much different way. She also goes on to say:

“Sometimes it’s hard to parse a Twitter conversation, especially when you’re reading it after the fact and have to go find all the different threads, so I’m happy you put your thoughts into a comment in this space.”

What bothers me about that is she’s saying, it’s hard to comb through so many threads to get the WHOLE story, so I’ll just post my story with the few tweets that tell the story how I want. BUT, I am glad you put YOUR story in the comments section so hopefully people will read that to clear anything up. But chances are MOST people who read this article or who have gotten involved on this topic, did not stick around and read all the comments, therefore missing Jeremy’s chance to explain himself.

Also, I want to apologize for my first comment where I called Brigid, Brittany. People screw up my name and spell it wrong all the time so I am always very aware of getting people’s names correct and I totally blew it before. I wasn’t trying to be funny or mean or anything, just made a mistake.

And one last thing, I think most people on here just want to have a discussion.There is a difference between debating/discussion/arguing a stance or point and cutting someone down simply because you don’t agree with them. So on both sides, please, let’s move away from the name calling and degrading of people we don’t agree with. When we resort to those kinds of actions, it does absolutely nothing to strengthen your argument. In fact it all will do is invalidate it.

“The simple truth is that NO ONE is forced into working on a project in which they don’t want to (specifically in creator-owned work). No one can be forced into a WFH deal they’re not happy with.”

That’s always my favorite contribution to any discussion of fair compensation in exchange for work. “Well, you’re certainly not going to be executed if you don’t comply with my unfair terms!”

My second-favorite is the old, “All this talk of money is cheapening the discussion of our wonderful artistic project.” But the “you’re not forced to accept the terms” is definitely first-favorite by a long-shot. Anyone who has ever heard that one from their boss at work LOVES the warm fuzzy feeling and sense of deep satisfaction with your job that it brings you.

Ayo – no that pretty much means I will unlikely agree with you on the topic so there is nothing you or I can say that will change that fact and visa versa so why continue it?

and i do believe there is such a remark as “agree to disagree”.

Geoff – i see where you are coming from with your viewpoints. i do. i just think to truly be great at your said profession, youre going to need a hell of a lot more than just promptness and by the numbers protocol. i still disagree that enthusiasm “isn’t necessary”. i would hire someone who is slightly less talented but has a better attitude and is ready for anything that someone who is slightly more talented and has an apathetic attitude and just “does the work”. in fact i have hired both types of guys and the BEST work always comes from the ones who are more enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. 10/10. although i work in the film industry i think the principle still applies.

the promise of excellence is a tacit understanding when working professionally… i agree. i guess you are coming from a more business oriented mindset, which of course is necessary in this world we can freelance. but putting that aside, because all of what you said is necessary and true… i still think those who stand above the rest have more than just this. they have flair, vision and passion. and all of those attributes are spawned from more than just being a “professional” as youve defined it.

and i agree with jesse… sometimes things get heated and words fly. i certainly will move forward and try to be less confrontation and move away from the personal jabs. thanks for the check.

i take words to mean what words mean. There was nothing obscure about the article or the sentiments expressed in the article. Unless the reporter had some personal ax to grind the whole thing seems pretty straightforward and, clearly, MULTIPLE readers got the same hit off of what was expressed.

Contrary to making things harder to understand, twitter conversations force concision and simplicity upon the writer. There was nothing complex about what was said and no nuanced sentiment was being expressed. Unless the reporter recast the conversation to mean something other than it clearly meant, those of use who got a little tense when that sentiment was expressed were absolutely right to be so.

Because that sentiment, as presented, is wrong.

And what sentiment is that, Geoff? That Jeremy would like to pay his collborators but can’t afford to…so he works with people on back-end deals and 50/50 ownership, which in his experience has resulted in work that has been more satisfying and an overall better experience? Especially since the one time he paid an artist for work he was left with an incomplete graphic novel and $2400 out the window?

How is the sentiment of “in my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.”…. WRONG?

I don’t think you can call someone’s experiences WRONG. But this statement:

“…artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.” can absolutely be viewed as wrong.

If this is EXACTLY what he said, I would have no issue with anger about the statement. I don’t agree with that quote like that. But it is not possible for me to agree or disagree with someone telling me about their experience. It’s their experience. Different from mine. Different from yours and no experience is right or wrong, that’s why it is an experience.

But this was the headline of the article, what people are focusing on. When this thing was shared all over the net and on twitter the first thing (and in some cases the only thing people see) is this headline with a link to the article. If that’s what you have to go on, the way it is presented makes it appear that the tone and subject of the article is very different than what the tone and subject of the ACTUAL twitter conversation was.

Ayo – When you say the piece is fair and those were his words I would agree this. The headline is:

“…artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.”

HIS ACTUAL WORDS WERE. “From my experience, artists mostly interested in pay don’t truly care about the project.”

In the first paragraph Brigid quotes another tweet: …I don’t believe in upfront pay when producing creator-owned comics. Corrodes the team.”

To which this exchange happened on twitter:
Jeremy ” Would I like to pay artists? Absolutely! Can I. No.”
Paul: That’s *very* different than saying you don’t “believe” in it because it “corrodes the team.”
Jeremy: Ah! Yeah, sorry. A bit of miscommunication on my part. I do believe my teams should get paid.

But yet this is not mentioned anywhere in the article. Sorry, but I don’t view that as being fair.

In the next sentence Brigid says: “Holt does believe in sharing revenues with the artist, but he is quite vehemently opposed to just paying the artists for their work.”

“Vehemently” is defined:
1. Characterized by forcefulness of expression or intensity of emotion or conviction; fervid: a vehement denial. See Synonyms at intense.
2. Marked by or full of vigor or energy; strong: a vehement storm.

Here is what Jeremy ACTUALLY had to say about paying artists:

“Would I like to pay artists? Absolutely! Can I. No.”
“I do believe my teams should get paid.”
” I’ve paid lettered and colorists in the past. Not opposed to it. Just can’t at the moment.”
“It’s not that I refuse to pay artists. I can’t.”

To me that doesn’t sound like someone who is “vehemently opposed” to paying people.

So I’m not 100% sure how you can argue that the piece IS FAIR? Yes they are his words but those words were not presented in the manner they were written. I know I see it one way and you see it another, but I have presented my case for backing up my stance. I would be very interested to see your points on why you think the case is fair, presenting actual examples.

But maybe it’s just easier to say the piece is fair rather than backing it up, just like I guess it’s easier to write an article paraphrasing tweets and not including the entire conversation.

Jesse Young — I owe you an internet High Five!

And just to clarify, the first sentence of my last comment should have read “argue” not “agree”.

So, Ayo – When you say the piece is fair and those were his words I would ARGUE this. The headline is….

Now, now Jesse. You know very well that you’re not allowed to parse Brigid’s statements from her article word for word to find out their meaning. You can only do that if you are Geoff or Brigid and are posting bits of a conversation on Twitter to which you would pick & choose specific points to “debate” while ignoring other salient points and clarification. I mean, calling Brigid out for saying Jeremy is vehemently opposed to paying artists when the rest of his statements — ones that she quoted IMMEDIATELY thereafter in her article — counter that claim would just be pointing out the obvious. (Although, sadly, way some of the site’s visitors still seem to be misinterpreting things and taking Brigid’s original posting at face value shows that maybe you DO need to do that).

This was a poorly written OpEd piece and not a posting of fact, but presented as a display of fact. She has yet to admit to being wrong about that, and that shows a lack of professionalism. In my opinion, of course.

no, it isn’t. I read the entire exchange and the article absolutely characterizes it as it exists.

everybody’s doing their best to be nice and fair but, at the end, the encapsulation of the conversation and the sentiment expressed was correct.

words have actual meanings. you don’t get to modify them to suit new meanings unless everyone concerned agrees on the new definition. as I said: who HASN’T been burned by an artist or a writer? This is business, kids.

If YOU don’t take the time to find out with whom you’re working, any negative fallout you receive is partly your own fault. Welcome to the majors, Mr. Hobbs.

Freelancers better vet their clients before signing agreements and people trying to make collaborative art better vet their “collaborators.”

the solution is not to stop paying for service or to categorize actual professionals as “only being interested in the money.” But to improve your ability to find people who fulfill their contract obligations. Can’t be bothered? Then you aren’t a pro and don’t deserve to work with any.

Geoff, with all due respect, you’re full of it. If you can read this article and specifically Jesse’s response just above (where he NAILED it) and still not understand why people are finding fault with the article, then I almost need to wonder what sort of agenda you have in being painfully obtuse.

Having just discovered this interesting post two days late, it might be a lost cause to try and resurrect the original discussion from the zombie swarm of attacks on Brigid’s journalistic talents (uh-oh, watch out internet — I just defended one of my friends! No integrity here! Argh!). But I’ll give it a try. The issue is intensely worth unpacking and I hope Brigid tries again in another post with a clean-slate comments section.

What Jeremy hits upon here is the notion of the “Creative Pair” vs. the straight-up “Work Made For Hire” — two situations that are really common throughout the history of comics. Sometimes they cross over a bit — I think most would consider Lee and Kirby an incredible Creative Pair, though both were doing work made for hire. Each have different DNA and have differing levels of expectations that one must be sensitive to.

As a writer who can’t draw but loves comics (that describes 90% of comics fandom, I know) I’ve been in Jeremy’s shoes many times. An early comics partner of mine was just that: a true partner and a friend outside of comics. We worked together for years without the remotest conversation about money. Making comics was just something else we did on the weekends. Eventually that dissolved when he needed to, you know, actually do paying jobs. In the years since I’ve almost worked with other artists, usually on pitches for which neither of us were paid while in pursuit of a publishing deal. When the deals didn’t materialize, the partnerships dissolved. At one point I tried turning one of these scenarios into a Creative Pair — I think I even said, “Hey do you want to just be friends and work on this together 50/50, damn the torpedoes?” — and the artist rightly declined, as he has little mouths to feed at home.

My point is, you can’t force a Creative Pair relationship into being. I get where Jeremy is coming from in that it’s his preferred scenario, Lennon and McCartney strumming out ideas together over a bar long into the night. It’s beautiful. That’s someone who is personally invested in the work with you, as an equal idea originator. But I can’t see any scenario where a solitary idea originator can bring someone else on board after the idea is complete to execute some further-down-the-road part of the job (i.e., pencilling a finished script) and successfully turn him or her into a true 50/50 creative partner. You might get away with not paying up-front, that’s certainly a common occurrence. But it’s not a prescriptive path towards achieving this devotion and passion to the project everyone is talking about.

However, I have to loudly contest this pernicious idea that paying a partner conversely erases their passion and devotion to the project from minute one. All the artists I’ve worked with in my career — both the ones waiting on a book deal and the one who is my actual real-life friend — were consummate professionals, absolutely dedicated to the project in every way, often contributing crucial ideas under the gun that saved many a meeting.

This is true in EVERY professional work transaction — the relationship BEGINS with money and evolves to include immaterial things like Responsibility, Passion, Personal Commitment, etc. To deny this is to ignore an obvious truth in everybody’s experience with any job they’ve ever had, in comics or otherwise. And I don’t think it’s wrong to place the burden of financial responsibility — the role of “The Boss” to keep with the day job analogy — on whomever the Idea Originator is. I think the Idea Originator in self-published comics is the artist more often than we think; we don’t notice it because Jamal Igle and Jon Bogdanove can draw their own script and take the finished thing to Kickstarter. Other times, it’s the writer, and in those cases, the writer must hire people to execute her idea, just like any entrepreneur has to do when starting any business. Is it better to be like Ben and Jerry and start your ice cream business with your best friend? Sure. But if you have to hire someone? You have to take your unique role in the business into account in all your dealings if you want a reputation for honest brokering.

Jeremy may have misspoke his intentions or not (I’m not sure why that matters), but to say that artists aren’t committed unless they work for back-end is missing a lot of subtleties. And I’ve worked with Jeremy before on the other end (as a letterer) — I’m sure he’d be the first to acknowledge that I gave him my all for an agreed upon rate. I think he’s probably just in the beginning stages of what a lot of us non-drawing writers come to discover over time.

I actually don’t think it’s worth wailing against the economics of the comics business, either. Every creative industry expects you to deliver completed work on spec to get paying work later — novelists have to do it, filmmakers have to do it. It’s fine for comics publishers to say, “Show me the finished book,” and so it’s fine for the idea originators to fund it and beg for money from their family members to do it. If you keep at it you might have the next Walking Dead or District 9 on your hands.

@Marc

I love how I’m “full of it” because I’m calmly, and without insult, saying I disagree with the sentiment expressed in the original twitter chain and find the encapsulation here to be accurate.

I’m not full of it. I’m writing fairly plainly about a silly notion that, to me, as a professional, and clearly to other professionals, sounds like the ramblings of an immature artist who is not.

Did he “misspeak?” Maybe. Did he say something flippant and then regret it? Maybe. I don’t actually care what his or your secret motivations might be. All I can go by is what has been said. I’ve heard it before. It was crap then and it’s crap now.

And it’s obvious from the twitter conversation and the other discussion that others felt the same. are we all obtuse? are we all full of it? are we all halfwits? probably not.

People who disagree with you are not “half wits” or “full of it.” Nor have I ever been confused with someone who is “obtuse.” There’s nothing complex about the article, the twitter posts or, in fact, you and the other guy trying to say Brigid got it all wrong.

She did not.

Sometimes you’re just wrong. It does happen.

As is the case with your diatribe against me. I have no agenda beyond artists should be paid for their work. If you can’t afford to pay– in some mutually beneficial fashion– your project isn’t ready for the sunlight yet. Grow up.

There is no such thing as “the back end.” Every freelancer in the world knows this. If they don’t, they learn it fast. Around the time they become actual professionals.

Sorry. One more thing.

If you’re a young person who keeps dating people who are selfish, emotionally abusive and make you feel bad such that you end up dumping them after a couple weeks., guess what? It’s not them. It’s you.

That’s called an analogy.

I understand where Jeremy is coming from, but i believe if anyone is doing the work, you gotta get paid for it. Artist and writers are the most shitted on in any industry, people will try everything in there power not to pay us or pay us as little as possible. A lot of writers have tried to hire me to do pitch packets and I’ll ask them if there going to pay me and they get offended. Its nothing personal its just that if I’m going to be spending months on something that’s not my idea, I’m considering myself as being hired to draw the artwork. What happens when someone hires you to do a job? You do work and get paid for it!

Writers try to pull this crap where there not going to pay you but offer you work to put into your portfolio. Thats bull shit and offensive. TO all the artist out there, if you wanna build up a portfolio, draw some pictures, download a script off the internet and draw five pages out of it.

Don’t fall for that experience and portfolio crap.

I’m not saying writers are evil people trying to get work for free out of someone, its just degrading for an artist to be reached out to for a project and then told theres no money in it. But some cases are different, ill work with my friends that are writers for free because were friends and know each other well enough.

A tip to writers wanting to start a comic project, set aside some money, like enough to pay an artist, colorist and letterer. Even if its not much and you have an amazing script, it’ll motivate the people your hiring to work and it shows that your serious about this comic project. Your thinking of the project like its a business, which it is by the way and in business everyone gets paid.

@skuds. Who pays the writer? That’s a giant hole in this argument that no artist has been able to offer a fair solution to.

To Joey,

You said this: “We’re not talking about pro creators working for publishers. We’re talking about up and comming creators, still learning craft who are self publishing and TRYING to get a foot into the door by producing work that someone might notice.”

That is exactly the crux of the problem with your argument and what Mr. Holt is saying here. Now, I’m sure Mr. Holt is a very hard-working writer and committed to his craft. I’ve nothing against writers and how they should be compensated for the work they do by publishers.

However, you and the other defenders of Mr. Holt are failing to see that what is being suggested is considered ON-SPEC.

Here’s a link to it: http://www.aiga.org/position-spec-work/
and this: http://www.no-spec.com/info-for-businesses

It is unethical to suggest that artists ‘learning’ the craft to get into the door shouldn’t be paid upfront compared to seasoned professionals. I’m sorry but that is just not right. The second you get hired, you are expected to do professional work on contract. All creative professionals know that it’s standard to get paid 50% down the first time and the rest upon completion of the project. It’s one method of going about it.

It’s no different that seeing employers coerce art school students into doing work ‘on spec’ prior to graduation or post-graduation to get ‘experience’. Or using contests to use their work for free. That is unethical. Period.

Skuds is correct that it is professionally degrading to not pay an artist upfront to do the project. Why Mr. Holt didn’t think of using Kickstarter to fund the project so the artist can get paid is beyond me, or having his publisher take care of that end as well. And since he was in debt for college loans, I hope he didn’t take another loan out to pay that particular artist for the project he was working on. College loans are devastating, I’ll grant him that and understand the financial pressure he’s under.

However, to my understanding what Mr. Holt was suggesting was similar to a work for hire basis seen here:

http://www.aiga.org/intellectual-property-what-does-work-for-hire-mean-for-designers/

The link is from AIGA but it does cover illustrators. And so what if Mr. Holt didn’t pay the artist but makes the promise of sharing revenue if the book sells, but ultimately doesn’t make a single sale? Guess what? He’s still obligated by contract to pay the professional, not a newbie or ‘fresh out of art school’ creative. Just because the artist is scraping to learn by experience doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get paid.

It means ALL artists or designers despite their station must be compensated. And now for something similar to what some of you guys are talking about, please read this:

http://vfxsoldier.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/an-open-letter-to-ang-lee/

To Jesse Young or Mr. Holt for the statement that ‘artists don’t care about the project when getting paid’.

I know what the problem is.

The artist was not compatible with his passion nor shared his views. In other words, he needs to hire the RIGHT artist who shares his interests in Houdini and the themes of his book. So, if someone were to write a book about the Knights Templar and since I’m a medieval buff, I’d be a good match for this because I would understand exactly where the writer is coming from. But someone who writes something else might not be a good fit for me because of various personality and shared interests.

It’s not about hiring someone who can pull off “eye candy”, it’s about getting the right illustrator who truly gives a damn about his vision and shares it, and be compensated professionally for it. And using the “revenue sharing” as a ‘carrot on a stick’ technique is still unethical. These artists are also paying for food and rent and they’re not going to do this for FREE and not certainly going to wait, say six months for instance, until the first sale of an issue to get paid. And since the artist he paid close to $2500 disappeared and never responded, it’s clear he got conned without doing a thorough background and portfolio check, especially providing an iron-clad contract to ensure he doesn’t get screwed again.

So remember, either use a contract to properly pay them upfront or use kickstarter to fund the project.

Have a good day.

I’ve done it for ‘the love of the craft’. Now, after 15 years, fuck the craft – I want my damn pay-cheque.

I didn’t go to art-school for ‘the love of the craft’. I didn’t spend thousands of pounds and dollars of my own money for ‘the love of the craft’. I didn’t sacrifice relationships for ‘the love of the craft’. I didn’t turn down blow-jobs for ‘the love of the craft’. I didn’t turn down drinking with mates night after night or going to see bands for ‘the love of the craft’.

I have the craft. Now I want the fucking pay-cheque.

I don’t know Mr. Thorne or Tim T., but that doesn’t matter, I’ve worked in the comics biz for 30 years, and they’re absolutely right. The rest of you are most probably posers or wannabes. Talking about getting artists to “work for love of the craft” is a skeezy way of getting naive artists to work for free. Don’t do it, kids…

And, um, Tim T., oral sex, REALLY?

As you can see, from the popular TV show TheDoctors, have
also studied the electronic cigarette is one such similar addictyion that
gets many people hooked which people start for different reasons.
Next, you will kock out the ceenter piece which can easily fit into the main cartridge.
Sort of ironic is ultrasonic vaporizer it not? There should be no crack left and all the holes must be airtight.
However, they ultrasonic vaporizer do not leave it unattended.

Leave a Comment

 


Browse the Robot 6 Archives