2011 Resolutions for a Comics Writer
RESOLUTION #1: Work for and with nice people.
A: Assholes are not worth your time. (This includes well-connected assholes. The contacts assholes have are typically more assholes, anyway.)
When I first moved to the east coast, I worked 25 hours a week for an asshole for four months at no pay to get my foot in the door. After 400 hours of slogging through his demeaning tasks and remarks and defending myself from his manipulations to get more free time out of me, he gave me one contact… who wanted me to work 25 hours a week at no pay to get my foot in the door. Ha! Now, that my CCS classmates and I are out of school and looking for work, I’m hearing stories like this all the time. Don’t let it happen to you, too!
Instead, choose to work with nice people. People who respect you and your work. People who pay on time. People who say “please” and “thank you.” People who have friends who are also nice people. If your boss or collaborator doesn’t have nice friends — or friends at all — there’s a problem.
There are plenty of nice people to work with. They may not be as flashy or noticeable, but they’re there. Find them. You deserve to work with good folks.
RESOLUTION #2: Require payment for your work.
A: You’re worth pay!
As a general rule of thumb: If someone is willing to make money off your work, you should be willing to do the same.
If you succeed with Resolution #1, this may be a moot point because nice people do their best to pay or at least barter for your services. But even nice people, when presented with the choice of undervalued quality work, will take it. We’re all looking for deals, especially if the artist is giving it away.
So give yourself some credit as a professional and require payment from those who hire you.
If you need the experience for your portfolio, and the only option is to work for no pay, then…
RESOLUTION #3: Do not work for split profits.
A: There are never any profits to split.
When a stranger wants to team up with you to produce a book or a film or anything else and they say something like “I can’t pay you, but I can give you 50% of the profits,” they are asking you to gamble with them on the chance that their idea will be published, produced, licensed, optioned, sold or whatever.
If you were in a Vegas casino carrying a bucket of tokens (yes, some still require tokens) and somebody came up and said, “Can I have your tokens? I can’t pay you for them but if I hit a jackpot, I’ll split it with you,” would you do it? Probably not, right? Same rule applies.
So, instead of working for the promise of some potential profits (remember, we’re not even talking gross, we’re talking profits only), work on the project because:
– The collaborator is a truly nice person (see Resolution #1),
– and he/she wants to pay you but there just isn’t any money (see Resolution #2),
– and you love the project so much you can’t stop thinking about filling your portfolio with the wonderful art it would inspire (which could benefit your career in the coming months or years),
– AND if the nice-person-collaborator agrees that you will retain the rights to all the work you are doing for free (more on legal matters in later posts)…
…then THAT’S a potential win-win situation.
You get: an improved portfolio, an enjoyable experience (since you love the project, it won’t be a slog) and the opportunity to network with their nice friends who could become future clients or collaborators.
And they get: the permission to publish your work for free, which they can gamble on. If it sells, great, your name is out there (and you can probably renegotiate the contract), but if it doesn’t it won’t matter to you because you’re not tied to their thin chances of making a profit.
Without those win-win circumstances, there are plenty of other projects you would love to spend time on where you get 100% of the profits: your own!
I hope this helps and Happy New Year!