Thursday, August 17, 2017

Comics Economics 101: Comic Book Budgets



So, do you want to be an independent comic book publisher or release your own comic? Well, dreams definitely come true but this one may cost you a pretty penny! People rarely think of the cost to produce a comic book. Keep in mind that this is not to deter you but to inform you of a realistic budget to make your comic book dreams come true.

Firstly, comic books are an art form that is mainly done with a team, that is, unless you can or want to do it all yourself. Many people do, but that takes a LOT of time to do correctly or at least to the level that will sell enough books to make the time worth it. If not, you will need a writer, penciler, inker, colorist, etc. All of these people need to be paid depending on their personal rates. We will look at some of these rates, based on pro artists that I know and we will build our budget!

Most, if not all, of these artists are professional indie freelancers. They cater their prices to the common audience and not to big publishers like Marvel and DC, so they are much cheaper but still good. Despite this, you’ll see how quickly their prices can add up.

MAKING YOUR BUDGET

Every book needs a cover, so we'll start here. A good cover will cost you between $100 and $300 so let's choose the $200- right in the middle. Pencilers charge between $25 to $100 a page but I know a good one who charges $35 and a great inker who charges $40 per page. I'm a colorist and my rate is $45 a page and I work with a separator (who lays down the flat colors for me to do my stylized detail work) who charges $10 a page. A letterer typically charges about $25 a page.

To round out our team, we'll pay our writer, an editor and a graphic designer a measly $100 per book, each. Also remember that a typical comic is 24 pages. So let's plug in these figures and add this all up with the chart below: 




DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB

Yes, $4,220 for ONE 24 page issue! Remember, this is a more conservative price because many of these artists are on the cheaper side! So now, you can see why you would need additional income outside of comics to start publishing. Many people just don’t have that kind of disposable income and end up doing it themselves, which takes a LONG time. Even if you have the money to pay a team, the artists also have other jobs on their plates as well, in order to survive, and have to balance their time for your project with other deadlines, which also takes a LONG time! Either way, patience is a virtue that not many people have to complete projects in this line of work. It’s just too costly and takes too long.

I know you are thinking that you can probably cut some corners and consolidate or eliminate some of these jobs on your book. Some you can and some are more essential than you think.

Take the graphic designer for example. You may think his job is done with just the title and company logos but these days comics are sold digitally as well as print. You need a graphic designer to import/export and convert to correct file formats, make sure the page bleed is correct, the color-coding and resolution are print ready, pre-flighting, etc. Hell, even the legal info on the inside cover and all of the ads are laid out and designed by a graphic designer for each issue.

Looking at the editor, you need one for proofreading, spotting art and layout inconsistencies, plot holes, continuity errors and all around damage and quality control. Simply put- if you want a GOOD book, get an editor.

REALITY CHECK

Here’s where it gets real… again. If you plan to sell your book at the common cover price of $3.99, it’ll take you to sell more than a thousand copies just for you to break even and get that $4,220 back before you'll even see any profits. Do you think your book can sell those units? Well, it’s possible if the quality is there. That quality just may cost you $4,220.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

New Interview w/ Comic Creators Anonymous!

Wow, does time fly!

Earlier this month I had an interview with Gary Watson of Comics Anonymous in the UK. Gary is dedicated to keeping up with the independent creators in the comic industry. It was a pleasure to talk with him about how I got started in my career and the projects I'm working on now and into the future.

Thank you Gary Watson for the feature and I hope to chat with you again with updates!

You can read the interview at his website here:
https://comicsanonymous2015.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/comic-creators-anonymous-kal-mebane/

Also, earlier in the year, I was interviewed by a radio show called StudenTalk, whose purpose is to help and inform students of for-profit colleges like Art Institute. I was featured on their fifth episode on May 7th. The one hour interview focused on my own personal challenges and goals to help such students after the crippling debt we tend to end up with after our over-priced and often fraudulent art education.

It's possibly one of the most personal interviews I'd ever do but the object was to share the ups and downs of being taking advantage of as an artist and how that's sculpted my business sense as an entrepreneur.

Many thanks to Joseph White and Sanders Fabares for the opportunity to share my story! You can check out the episode here: http://www.spreaker.com/user/riotradiorocks/student-talk-may-7

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Art Review: Rebecca Main

Today I’m doing something different- an art review! I was asked for my art consulting assistance in doing a critique for an artist by the name of Rebecca Main. She submitted to me three sequential art (comic book) pages for review that she completed for class called Apocalypse Creed. Now usually when I do a review of this nature I’d consider the flow of the story as it continues through each page. Since this is an “incomplete” story that was done for a class, I’ll only judge the merit of each individual page. Each page should then have its own self-contained story clarity and ability to understand what is going on even without a script.

UPON FIRST GLANCE:
Right off the top, I can see that her art style is reminiscent of Japanese manga with a unique mix of angular, thick to thin line work that is a bit more Americanized. In addition, I’m kind of tickled by seeing the old school work flow that she used by doing her pencils in blue line, inking on top and then gluing the bits of cut out dialog over it all. I’m not sure if this is her usual method or if it was part of the assignment but I suggest that she light-box her inks on separate paper over her pencils instead. I explain this method a bit more in my post here>>> https://enigmaresolve.blogspot.com/2014/09/workflow-walk-thru.html. That way she can keep her lines separate from her inks and she has twice the art to sell in the future!  

Now, onward to the pages- I’m not sure if they are supposed to be in a particular order so I’ll just have them from weakest to strongest, in my opinion.

THE INDIVIDUAL PAGES:
WAR- Really nice layout here, however I find this page to be the weakest of the bunch, so it goes first. The scenes are clear in terms of the subject matter, which is good. In the first panel, there is great use of dynamic lighting but the figures’ anatomy needs work so practice up on figure drawing. In the splash panel below, the action is full of movement and is very well done. The biggest point of confusion is the large sword that hovers right down the middle of the panel. Fix those small issues and it will be a very strong page!


DEATH- This is a very powerful two-page spread. The layout is clear and the subject is front and center, leaving no guessing as to what these pages are about. The silhouetting of the evergreen trees in the distance is the perfect contrast to the negative space that Rebecca uses for the smoke effects. The details on the decaying horse are very well drawn. The only drawbacks here are that the arbitrary word balloons leave it a bit unclear as to who is talking and I would choose a more “comic style” font for the dialog. 


CONQUEST- This page blew me away. Rebecca pulled out all of the stops and took it to the next level. Tons of experimenting here and it was done REALLY well. The panels are flowing into the other but still maintain clarity. The top panel uses grey toning to establish distance in a very effective way and it appears as though she used a masking technique and possibly sponges to create the texture for the icy waves throughout the page. I would love to see more of this from her in the future. Again, a better comic style font is really the only issue.






OVERALL:
One of the largest assets to her art style is the consistency. Her balance of whites, darks and grey toning is, for the most part, clean and easy to read. I noticed her ability to draw stylized horse anatomy, which she is very strong at and I hope she continues to develop stories in that niche. I love her animation style but also want her to continue human anatomy studies as well, particularly life drawing and gesture drawing and not just learn from comics or anime. I also love her ability to fill the pages with art without cluttering them and keeping a sense of total composition. 

You do great work Rebecca, you are on the right path and I hope to see more of it in the future! Keep practicing and keep growing! Thank you for choosing me to review your work!

Art Mantra for Today...

It's okay to break the rules but only after you learn them. Style is no substitute for skill.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

NEWS: Got an ENDORSEMENT! POSESPACE!

I'm super excited and proud to announce that I will be teaming up with one of the premier art reference sites on the web, POSESPACE.COM! They have asked me to do an ADVANCED REVIEW of one of their flagship books, due out in several months!

Check back here soon for my very first product review!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My new art videos!



Today I'm coming out and debuting my new art video series. The purpose is to put up tutorials, demo art products and give product reviews. I'll also be discussing various other topics that pertain to today's artist in this modernized workforce. Please join me and hopefully it'll be a fun journey!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Complexities Web Series

Earlier in 2016, I was asked to be involved in a really kool project, a web-drama series called Complexities.

This reunited me with an old school/neighborhood friend of mine- the talented, the beautiful, the hard working, the positive, the up, the down, the delicious... writer, actress, singer, director, producer and all around thespian Courtni Saizon! Working with her entertainment company, Fragile Wildflower Productions, she pulled me on-board as a promotional graphic designer.

Complexities can best be described, by me, as a series that mirrors how incredibly intricate adult relationships tend to be. The acting is top notch and Courtni's stylized character interplay is in full effect. Expect lots of plot twists and turns!

Please check out the Complexities Web Series debut episode here: