There are no guarantees with back-end deals. It is a hollow promise.
There's no way to predict who's going to be a hot artist. José Luis García-López should be one of the hottest comic book artists out there and yet he doesn't get the kind of love Jim Lee gets from the fans.
There is no average return to expect to get. That's why anyone who offers no pay to you, "But I'll split the back end with you" are full of it. (Full of dreams that is; dreams.) It's an empty promise. I can't wipe my own back end with that kind of promise.
I'm working on my own graphic novel and have been for a couple years now for that reason (no guarantees). I continue to do paying gigs and do my own stuff in-between.
If I'm going to sacrifice my time and talent, why not do it for myself, not somebody else? Even though, I have run across one first-time comic book writer I made an exception for, because (a) I was approached in a professional manner (not with all these delusions of grandeur and empty promises) and (b) the story really knocked me out. There have been other stories that have tempted me, but I'm drawing the line there.
I'm not counting on the back end of my graphic novel to pay my bills. If it hits, then fine. If not, at a least I told my story and I haven't damaged my life in the process.
There are only two ways to make a living doing comics.
1. Work for a company that pays pro rates and be on time with delivery of your work. Working fast can help.
I spoke to a hot super talented artist (that everyone knows) and he was bemoaning how everyone thought he was making all this money, but it took him too long to get a comic book done, so he was struggling for the past year. I realized I made more money then he did, because I produced a comic book every month (at that time I was on a regular comic book) even though I'm sure his page rate was much higher than mine.
2. Your creation that you sacrificed and gambled on becomes a success and you're making TMNT and Spawn type money or at the very least Invincible money. The Walking Dead type money is for the very few. You have to be willing to pour your blood sweat and tears into it no matter what the pay off will be. You have to be willing to invest in yourself. Invest in your comic book, comic strip or graphic novel.
to be continued…
read next - Do You Really Want to Create Your Own Work and Self-Publish?
previous - Pay the Talent!
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