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Comics Economics 1

Boy, can I relate to this. Kieron Gillen at Comics Alliance:

Will we make some money off the trade? Maybe. And that's a big maybe. But that means Jamie not earning any money for the six months it would take to draw it, which is the main reason why we took over a year to do 7 issues. As in, every time Jamie ran out of money, he had to stop and do something else. A couple of hundred dollars doesn't cover rent or pay for his fashionable haircuts. And doing this bitty work f--ks up the production anyway, because you can't concentrate or plan. You just spend your entire life in low-level money panic.


Imagine if we could have just done the comic and not had to deal with any of the shit we've had to. We'd have been up to issue 44 now...

... just to give you an idea about narrow the margins are between what we are and what we could be, if we were selling 6K instead of 4K, we could have done those 44 issues. The difference between breaking even and actually being able to do it in comics is insane. It's like being kept under ice, clawing.

I got into Phonogram too late to really get into it, having initially dismissed it as gimmicky and self-indulgent*: I'm one of the missing two thousand, and I'm sure Gillen would spit on my sympathy. But he's absolutely right about this, and all of us who've been round the block even once trying to get started in this business know it, even if the numbers are different from project to project. Depending what you count as a serious attempt, it's something like third time out for me, and although technological changes have made things easier in a lot of ways, there's still a missing step between Almost Viable and Runaway Success, a sort of Daathic Abyss where Doing Okay, Thanks ought to be.

Lest this sound like special pleading, I'd point out that such a gap is not unique to comics: check out messageboards for film/TV production staff and you'll find similar complaints, and one of the things I discovered during my years in the so-called real economy is the extent to which it's increasingly adopting the showbiz model. Consider: twenty years ago, if you used the word "intern" outside of politics or the media, people would have no idea what you were talking about. Changed days.

But comics and publishing are what I know anything about, and have an interest in getting right. And I need to do it soon. As somebody commented on Warren Ellis' blog earlier, in response to the same article:

Waiting for someone else to fix publishing looks less and less sustainable by the minute.

Thinking cap is on. More to come.

*Which it is, of course. I just had to see the whole thing before I realised that was what made it good.

1 comment:

  1. "I'm one of the missing two thousand"

    I hate you now, Pix. And your 1,999 mates. Hate you like Kula Shaker!

    Well, maybe not, but there's like 30 Wolverine comics every month and Phonogram's going away... it's not right!