Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Jim Shooter talking about rates and contacts while at Marvel & DC Comics and why RPG publishers should listen...

The legendary Jim Shooter of Marvel Comic fame has a blog where he talks much about the comic book industry and his involvement in it. A few days ago he did a post talking about contracts and working for Marvel and DC Comics.  The thing that REALLY stood out to me on the contract was the artist, writing and plotting page rate amounts. They were all listed at $60 per page. $60 a page I am guessing was the "starter rate" and that was Marvel 10 years ago.   Now look at his DC freelance contract rate from 2007 - 2008. $100 a page? This guy has been the editor and chief at BOTH Marvel Comics and Valiant Comics and is on record for being the youngest paid writer EVER comics from a major (DC or Marvel) company and all he got was $100 a page.  I can bet you those rate might have actually gone DOWN due to so many new artists and writers looking to break in to the comic book industry and the book sales going DOWN. So I guess that $100 a page for artwork for a RPG page is looking a little over priced to me when most RPG don't sell over 5,000 copies. 

Now this Marvel Comics contract was from 2001 / 2002 but best of all it also included the Marvel Comic Incentive plan for the creative staff to make more money if their books sold better. Years ago (and I am talking about early to mid 1990s) I was talking to John Byrne about how much money he made while working on Fantastic Four and he told me since FF was selling so well (over 200k copies at the time) his incentive money was much, MUCH more than his regular paycheck from them. Kind of like a waitress, you make your real money on the tips and you get a paycheck.  If you want to be real scary, Chris Claremont and Jim Lee sold 8 million copies of X-Men #1 in the 1900s and just using the basic math on the incentive plan and "guestimating" on a few things, you can think that both Jim Lee and Claremont each maybe made over $100K on that single book off of their incentive plan. Now that is an incentive plan. 

After looking at this article it only makes me shake my head even more when people are asking for $150 for a single character design or 8 cents a word to write. If Marvel and DC Comics wouldn't pay you that much, why do you think I would, or better yet, be able to do it.  The ability to make a RPG for a reasonable amount is what helps keep us ALL in business. Think about that next time you do some freelance work. Maybe you should ask about an incentive plan for companies you work for over a flat rate. Looks like both of you could turn out winner on that.  Talk to you later...