Monday, August 03, 2020

Nate Powell: Making a Living as a Graphic Novelist

This post from January 2019 has been getting a lot of traffic, and it's worth looking at again. It's a breakdown of what a graphic novelist, at the top of his game, earns for a book. As you can see, $30,000 doesn't go as far as it used to.


Nate Powell has posted about the money he gets for creating a graphic novel.

Background: If you know graphic novels, then you know that Nate Powell has been doing them for a while and he is a well known, award-winning graphic novelist.

My friend Brian Fies, also an award winning graphic novelist and writer, first showed me the graphic below.

Brian is a pal (buy his book A FIRE STORY, from Abrams). I know Nate Powell by reputation. That's Nate's handwriting there, below, breaking down for us that he has to live on $6,375.00 for over a year while working on his latest graphic novel. He doesn't get the rest until afterward.

Brian Fies breaks this down. Here's Brian:

Graphic novelist Nate Powell posted this sobering breakdown about the finances of being published. As I just commented to a friend, these aren't entry-level numbers; these are "Nate Powell who is in the top 5% of successful working graphic novelists" numbers. Beginners wouldn't have it even this good.

A quick primer: an "advance" is money a publisher pays an author up-front, meant to cover some expenses while the book is being written. It is an "advance against royalties," which means you don't start receiving royalties (a percentage of sales) until your advance has been earned back--e.g., in Nate's $30,000 example, the author wouldn't get paid again until the royalties they were due hit $30,001. Some books never earn back their advances, so that's all the money their authors ever receive.

In my understanding, a $30K advance is very generous in the graphic novel world. Much more common is no advance at all.

Without getting too specific, Nate's analysis looks right to me. My numbers would be different, and I don't have an agent, but the bottom line is that creating a graphic novel is a long, difficult thing to do, and on a dollar-per-hour basis 97% of graphic novelists earn waaaay less than minimum wage.

I don't think you do it for the money (unless you're naive or stupid). You do it because you have a story to tell that nobody else in the world can. You do it because it's fun and fulfilling. You do it because you have to. You hope your story connects with enough readers that maybe you earn a few bucks and get a chance to tell more stories. Hoping that your story will find enough readers to make you rich (or even middle-classish) is just a lottery player's fantasy. It also happens from time to time.


Comicsbeat: Graphic novelist quits making graphic novels after trying to live on $10k/year for three years

Faith Erin Hicks on the Economics of Graphic Novels

Friday, July 31, 2020

King Features "Six Chix" Dropped from Newspaper Due to "Inappropriate and Offensive" Cartoon

Bianca Xunise, who is one of King Features' "Six Chix" cartoonists, has gotten some criticisms of one of her cartoons resulting in a newspaper getting rid of the feature entirely.

She says on her Twitter account:

"So apparently the angry responses got my comic dropped from some newspapers and an apology that I did not approve of is running in its place. For the record I do not apologize for this comic and this is censorship."

Here's the comic and the newspaper funnies page apology (above) to its readers.

More at The Daily Cartoonist, which points out that the newspaper "can’t even be bothered to run the right credits: Bannerman, Xunise, Konar, Lawton, Patrinos & Piro."

Hat tip to Derf Backderf!

Hand-Lettering Samples from Barnacle Press

Here are some samples of hand-lettering from the turn of the last century. These all come from the fine fellows at Barnacle Press, which is a great place to see very early comics. Barnacle Press was just tweeting this week about hand-lettering. Kismet!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

How to Hand Letter Comics Using the Ames Guide

Above: a hand lettering guide by Bob McLeod.

Hand lettering is something that fewer and fewer cartoonists do, what with the ability to work 100% digitally. Personally, I like hand-drawn lettering just because it looks, well, "drawn." It's more part of the drawing when it's generated by hand instead of by pixel and app. And when you draw on paper, then you later have the actual original in your hands, to display in a gallery show or sell.

For those who are still interested in the old school, hand-drawn lettering aspect of cartooning, here's some links.

Salgood Sam has a great couple of videos that will tell you all about the dos and don't of hand lettering using an Ames Lettering Guide. It will help you keep your letters uniform and evenly spaced.

The Webcomics site has a primer on using the Ames Lettering Guide.

Drawing Words and Writing Pictures also has a great how-to guide to using the Ames Lettering Guide.

Art of the Comic Book has a technical step-by-step instruction.

The Alvin Ames Lettering Guide is easily available in stores and online.

Dick Blick

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Vintage Tool Lots

This is one of these oddball entries today (i.e., NOT cartoons or even cartoon-related). Allow me to indulge you with some photos of vintage tools. I like the look and shapes of these old tools. All of these are pictures from eBay, and none are actual tools that I own. I don't really want to own them. But I sure like their shapes and heft. Aren't they pretty?

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Comic-Con International YouTube Channel: Comics During Clampdown: Creativity In The Time of COVID

How do cartoonists deal with writer's block in the face of a global pandemic? How do you balance homeschooling with publishing deadlines? Panelists Brian Fies (A Fire Story), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles), MariNaomi (Life on Earth trilogy), Ajuan Mance (1001 Black Men), Thien Pham (Sumo), Jason Shiga (Demon), Gene Luen Yang (Dragon Hoops), and moderator Andrew Farago (Cartoon Art Museum) discuss work-life balance, sanity, and survival in the midst of our brave new world.

Comic-Con International YouTube Channel: Comics Satire and The New Political Cartoon

The San Diego Comic Convention, maybe the biggest convention of the year, is canceled. To make up for it, there is a Comic-Con International Youtube channel. Here's one of their videos on satire and political cartoons.

"There's no shortage of fodder for political and social satire these days, yet some say political cartooning is a dying art! Join five very different cartoonists, Ben Passmore (BTTM FDRS, Sports is Hell), Ezra Claytan Daniels (BTTM FDRS, Upgrade Soul), Mr. Fish (Nobody Left), Ann Telnaes (Trump's ABC) and R. Sikoryak (Constitution Illustrated) as they discuss their approaches to making relevant, critical comics in the age of... whatever it is that's going on right now! Moderated by Jacob Brogan (assistant opinions editor at The Washington Post)."

Monday, July 27, 2020

Happy 80th Birthday, Bugs Bunny

Bugs Bunny - What's Up Doc? from milton diogo on Vimeo.

Dan Nakrosis 1963 - 2020

Daniel A. “Dano” Nakrosis passed away on July 21st. The cause was ongoing heart issues. He was 57 years old.

Dan was a veteran comic book artist. He had done it all: writer, artist, colorist, letterer and editor.

From The Daily Cartoonist:

"Born in Bayonne, Dan’s coloring, lettering and artwork graced the pages of all the major comics publishers across a wide genre of books. His work history included stints at DC, Marvel, Wildstorm, Walt Disney and Archie, among many others; on titles including 'Aquaman,' manga versions of 'Spider-man,' 'The X-Men' and the 'Conservation Corps,' also known as the 'Eco Crew.' He also worked as a writer, editor and publisher for over 30 years with most of the major names in the U.S. comic book industry. For many years, Dan ran a studio which specialized in producing translations of Japanese manga comics for Western audiences.

"Dan was also a graphic artist who’s advertising and promotional work was used by many companies, including Trader Joe’s.
"A graduate of Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington and the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon Art in Dover, NJ, Dan was also very active as a member of the National Cartoonist Society, serving as the New Jersey Chapter President and in other officer positions over several decades. He was a regular attendee of the NCS’ Reuben Awards ceremony, and often worked as a member of the group’s election committee, helping to collect and compile votes for the award which honors the Cartoonist of the Year.

"He was a collector of sports and comic-related art and memorabilia and was always ready with a comic quip or bad pun. Dolphins and the English Premier League, and the music of bands including Kansas, Marillion, Prefab Sprout, and The Magnetic Fields.

"He was a collector of sports and comic related art and memorabilia and was always ready with a comic quip or bad pun.

"Dan was the dear son of the late John Nakrosis. He is survived by his loving mother Elena, brothers John and Stephen, and his wife Sarah, sisters Catherine and Elizabeth Mortimer and her husband Robert, nephews Thomas and Laurance, nieces Athena and Mary, and numerous cousins and friends."

Dan's Facebook page