Village Voice decides to pay cartoonists after all

A tiny bit of justice at last. A ton of people this week commented that writing about how hard it is to make a living doing comics while simultaneously not paying your cartoonists is a seriously dick move. And Village Voice editor Tony Ortega has decided to scramble up all that egg on his face and give everyone some breakfast:

I wanted to have a big special comics issue, but I had a limited budget. So in a well-meaning effort to make this work, I asked some cartoonists to provide work without compensation. In the last couple of days, it’s been pointed out to me quite clearly that this was not the best way to help out the cartooning industry. The thing is, we’re not a company that expects people to work for free for the exposure. And I’m making this right: I’m paying all of the artists in the special issue.

And hopefully buying them beers and working with them again soon.

Tony Ortega
The Village Voice

Well played!


RELATED: Cartoonist Tim Krieder also writes on the matter of the day:

The night before this depressing gathering I’d attended a reading by the Pizza Island studio, also known (among me) as the Pretty Girl Cartoonist Club (P.G.G.C.). This event filled the big back room of a bar in Brooklyn, a space generally used for live music performances. I had to sit on a railing, and still people crowded in front of and behind me, and it got claustrophobic and hot and carbon dioxidey. I felt certain that fire codes were being violated. All these people had come out to see internet microstars like Kate Beaton, whose erudite and silly webcomic Hark! A Vagrant has an unheard-of 25,000 followers on Twitter. Afterwards, at the bar, I talked to Aaron Diaz, another web cartoonist, who’s made a living for the last few years from online donations and merchandise sales. On an unworthy personal level this made me feel sorry for myself and superannuated and old, as I never understood how to make any money from the internet until it was too late. But, on a less selfish level, it reminds me that cartooning is hardly moribund; it’s just thriving in different niches.


  1. says

    The final irony in this cascade of ironies: now the Voice has been shamed into paying real money for a pile of illos that aren’t worth paying for.

  2. Matthew Southworth says

    Go Tony Ortega for being upfront and humble. The internet can use more of that!

  3. says

    Danny, I was going to say, the not paying thing meant that they got a lot of artists who were………not well known.

    Ah well, at least a precedent has been established.

  4. Al™ says

    Good that they are paying for the work. Hmm, even the word “work” makes it sound like it is worth money.

  5. says

    I did some work on a “Comics Issue” for one of their other Alt Weeklies a couple of years ago and was paid. I was surprised to learn the Voice didn’t pay cartoonists for their flagship weekly. Good to hear the cartoonists are receiving their dues.

  6. says

    Yay, somebody showing some class in the Voice! Whenever I do freelance work, getting payed is sometimes as much or more work as the actual illustrating. Magazines (and I imagine weeklies) are the worst… it’s great that Mr. Ortega is righting this wrong (which, oddly enough, they pointed out in the first place).

  7. says

    I was surprised to learn the Voice didn’t pay cartoonists for their flagship weekly. Whenever I do freelance work, getting payed is sometimes as much or more work as the actual illustrating.

  8. Horatio Weisfeld says

    Becoming a cartoonist, an illustrator, a film director… an artist, has becoming a pursuit dominated by ego maniacal, well-connected trust fund babies.

    This ignominious (transitory) age will be judged by its pervasive mediocrity and (largely) forgotten.

    Blessed are those who sacrifice to embrace standards (before status and technology).

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