To be a freelancer is to be constantly wondering, wondering if you are being paid an equitable wage or if you’ll be able to afford next month’s rent or bills. A difficult job is compounded by a lack of transparency. Freelancing is rough in any industry and comics are certainly not immune. Writer and editor Stephanie Cooke (Toronto Comix, Rogues Portal) wants to help change that. She recently launched Creator Resource, a free and comprehensive website aimed at helping creators navigate the comics industry.
A few weeks ago Cooke posed a question to Twitter, would they like to see a free resource about working in comics? You are darn right that’s what people wanted. So Cooke got to work, she began planning and organizing. A month later Creator Resource launched with a series of columns, blogs and guides. I was curious to know more about how Cooke created this resource, so I asked her to share with me her process and goals now that the website has launched.
Cooke says the idea sprung up when she saw Nick Hanover (Corpus Anthology, Comicosity) musing about the website fairpagerates.com on Twitter. Fair Page Rates hasn’t been updated in a few years and in an industry without guilds or unions, it was one of the few tools comic book industry folks had to judge whether or not they were being paid fairly according to industry standards. Cooke, however, wanted to take the idea of Fair Page Rates further.
Then, because I have no chill at all, I thought about all the other things that we could use in comics. Who will help creators with contracts and copyrights? Where can someone find out about how to start lettering? What does a proper comic book script look like? I wanted to build up a new and improved version of fairpagerates.com that included more than just page rates. I wanted Creator Resource to be a site that provided as much information on the comic book industry as possible.
Creator Resource is shaping up to be exactly that. From articles about protecting your copyright to navigating contracts, to databases on creators and comic book website, there’s a bevy of information already available. Issues like wages or intellectual property law can feel obtuse and difficult so Creator Resource invites experts to share their wisdom in the hopes of making these topics easier to digest. I asked Cooke why she believed tools like Creator Resource were so important to the comics industry.
There are a lot of problems with the comic book industry as anyone who’s been in it for a while can tell you. I think some of those problems could be solved with transparency, insight into the industry, and by creators truly coming together to lift each other up. I want to build up a community where all of those things are happening. Where we can see creators supporting each other and building a better industry together, and hopefully helping make comics more positive and inclusive.
Resources like our site are important to making comics less intimidating and easy to navigate. I don’t just want new readers to come to the comics industry, I want new creators to come to the industry, and to do that, we need to inspire people to help build the new generations.
Cooke believes in the power of positive change, it oozes out of her responses. In what feels like a never ending cycle of negativity, Cooke’s positive attitude is a breath of fresh air. Over the next few months Cooke hopes to establish more resources for all creators including: artists, colourists, letterers, editors.
Here’s a peak at what else Creator Resource has cooking over the next few months:
One of the things that we’ve launched is a self-care section to the site to talk about mental health and making sure that we’re taking care of our minds as well as bodies. We have plans to address more of that down the line. One thing that has already really clicked with the community is The Freelancer’s Cookbook, which is a series of easy and cheap recipes by freelancers for freelancers. Feeding yourself and making sure that you’re eating properly is super important – I put out a call for recipes and have been absolutely overwhelmed by the response. Every Tuesday we’ll have a new recipe put up on the site for freelancers to check out. They’re all designed to take as little time as possible, be super affordable, and of course, delicious.
Thankfully, Cooke isn’t doing this alone. So far she’s been joined by cartoonist Beth Barnett (Fearless Femme), illustrator Eric Kim (McTank) and writer and educator, Rosie Knight (WWAC). Each member of the team is committed to transparency in the comic industry and that’s something we all have a say in as fans and creators alike. The team thought of different ways we can all help create a more inclusive, equal, and safe comics community.
“We need to be able to talk about industry practices and how much we make openly. Our industry doesn’t have a union or worker protections. By joining together and speaking about what we make, desire to make, and what we need to thrive, we can make our industry more hospitable to freelancers.” — Beth Barnett
“By creating a forum like this, I think the hope is that we can foster community and help across borders. Help grow the dialogue of business practices in comics and graphic novels.” — Eric Kim
“Basically we need to talk about our experiences and create a community that can be transparent and eventually challenge problematic behaviors. The main reason comics publishers have gotten away with predatory behaviour for so long is because nobody would talk about it for fear of being blacklisted.” — Rosie Knight
As the website continues to expand, Cooke would love for others to be involved. Diverse and broad insight from all stakeholders is an essential element of Creator Resource. To that end, there are numerous ways you can help out: Submit your ideas or recipe’s to The Freelancer Cookbook by using the contact form on the website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively you can direct message the team using Twitter @Creator Resource. If you are a comic book professional consider filling out this survey which will be used to gain insight into page rates for the year 2017.
It’s exciting to see this resource hit the ground running. The reaction to the site has been enthusiastic and Cooke hopes Creator Resource will continue to be a haven of positivity for all .
Andrea Ayres writes about comics, video games, and representation in pop-culture.