Spike, the publisher at Iron Circus Comics is a BS-free zone and she recently had a few things to say about the costs involved with publishing an original graphic novel and how page rates factor in.  Spike being Spike, it’s succinct and cuts right to the numbers:

The rest of the thread is here and if this is interesting to you, consider yourself encouraged to dive in.   Spike goes on to extol the virtues of launching a new book with Kickstarter, which absolutely does make for vastly better margins than the distribution channels.

If you’re going through distributor channels, that’s how the OGN game works.  It’s one of the reasons that many publishers run monthly comics to try and further amortize those overall costs.  Iron Circus doesn’t do monthlies, just books, so that’s where they have to recoup all the costs.

Want to learn more about how comics publishing and digital comics work?  Try Todd’s book, Economics of Digital Comics or try some fiction.


  1. I’m sorry, but this is why the rise of social media and increased availability from publishers, editors, and creators to readers have diluted and helped to further damage comics:

    You don’t need to share this. You don’t need to defend yourself. I was reading the other day someone involved with Pro Wrestling and he was criticized for the quality of their very long show and he said “look, it’s not easy putting on a three hour show every week it’s hard and difficult”- well, don’t do it.

    There needs to be some mystique in this industry. You made a conscious choice and obviously you’re very good at what you do. Stop talking about yourself and keep keeping on. The content of what you publish is supposed to overshadow you, not vice versa.

  2. To the contrary, this performs a very important service indeed — given how much of the online conversation often tends to be about getting rid of “floppies” and going straight to original graphic novels, with possible serialization first through digital. Readers need to know that will be a world with many fewer books releasing. Paid print serialization is a tool nearly unique to comics, and stories like the above help to highlight how it can be helpful.

    I couldn’t disagree more on the “mystique” point: prospective publishers and retailers need to know as much as possible about what they’re getting into, and readers who understand what’s possible are less likely to have unrealistic expectations, It’s NOT knowing that has hurt both individuals and the market in the past.

    If the inside baseball isn’t something you want to read, that’s fine — but it’s better for all involved that it’s out there. (And this seems like a strange website to read if you wish to avoid it!)

  3. Adapt or die. I think comics could use some innovation with getting work out there and making it profitable.

    Spike’s knowledge drop was sobering but at the same time, the publisher’s overhead problems don’t justify the creator not getting paid their value. even if the numbers show you the truth. Maybe less books should be printed? Why does every niche product need an unprofitable print run?

    So something needs to give and change, unless creators are just gonna be content getting paid in loose change, living in poverty and begging for donations whenever they hit a rough week, new ideas will be important going forward.

  4. It wouldn’t be a bad thing if less books were being printed esp niche ones, or maybe printed in more economical means? Maybe creators need to start finding a way to make real money from niche audiences on digital? There is always room for innovation.

    Market saturation is a real thing.

  5. “BS-free zone”? How about Spike making a big thing about how much money she makes and how rich she’s getting with her big warehouse and all her fame, then telling artists to “draw faster” when they complain about being paid peanuts by her. Now she pleads poverty. She’s small time making a publicity grab at pretending to be big time, then goes all victim when called on it.

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