09 April 2011

FISH 'N' CHIP PAPER

The Village Voice published their comics issue this week, and the cover story was entitled, "If Cartoons Are So Big, Why Don't They Pay?" You can read it over here. I was actually asked a couple questions for this piece, and it's interesting to compare what I said to what actually made it into the article.
Here are the writer's questions and my responses:
My understanding is that Image makes creator-owned comics deals based on proposals. I'd be grateful for any information that gives me a sense of:
- How often unsolicited proposals get accepted
It's pretty rare for Image to accept unsolicited proposals for publication. In the 10 years I've been involved in the process of selecting new material, I can think of only a handful of instances. Most notably, we pulled Jonathan Hickman's The Nightly News out of the submissions pile, which went on to do very well for us and established Jonathan as one of the freshest new voices in contemporary comics. Before that was The Luna Brothers and their miniseries, Ultra.
We get dozens of submissions packages every day, and I'm not exaggerating at all when I say the vast majority of them are so bad it's almost unimaginable. At times, I'm stunned someone had the courage to put work that unprofessional in the mail to show someone else. There are things I've looked at and though, "Surely, this is from a young child," but then I read the cover letter and it's from someone in his 30s or 40s, and it's actually kind of heartbreaking.
- What, in broad terms, the resulting contracts are worth
It really depends on the individual property. There's really no way to compile an average, because on end of the spectrum, there are these huge international success stories like The Walking Dead and Spawn, which sell and sell and sell, but on the other... Well, the unfortunate truth of the matter is some books never make very much at all. The market can be very fickle, and sometimes even great material goes unnoticed.
Here's what made it into the article:
It's a grim picture, but not one that ever seems to discourage newcomers.
"We get dozens of submissions packages every day," Eric Stephenson, publisher at Image Comics (Spawn, The Walking Dead, Witchblade) "And I'm not exaggerating at all when I say the vast majority of them are so bad it's almost unimaginable. At times, I'm stunned someone had the courage to put work that unprofessional in the mail to show someone else. There are things I've looked at and though, 'Surely, this is from a young child,' but then I read the cover letter and it's from someone in his 30s or 40s, and it's actually kind of heartbreaking."
Suppose you don't suck, though, and you get picked? "The unfortunate truth of the matter is some books never make very much at all. The market can be very fickle, and sometimes even great material goes unnoticed."