“Fair Page Rates” wants to know how much YOU make

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UPDATED WITH CAVEAT: Alex De Campi has pointed out that show ever has put this together used her slide on page rates without crediting her, which is a little uncool for a page that purports to have creators rights at heart — OTOH maybe they didn’t want any specific names attached to the project?

There’s a new anonymous comics industry survey on the scene and it’s called Fair Page Rates. According to their “About” Page:

As the battle for a mandatory $15/hr minimum wage is fought in the service and retail industries, artists remain neglected. It is our belief that the creative teams of comic books deserve a living wage. Specifically, we feel Page Rates should be commensurate with the labor involved, ideally no less than $15 an hour for any position (writer, artist, colorist, letterer). It is the responsibility of the publisher and not the freelancer to provide this minimum wage and to structure their business model accordingly.

At this point in time, the comics industry does not have a guild or union to set fair rates and enforce them. We are now presenting this data in order to help artists not only be better informed about the standard rates of the industry but to also encourage them to not accept work that falls below the standard. Artists, although you may feel you must take what you can get, it only helps you, your artistic community, and the medium, to refuse any job which pays lower than the current page rates.

This website only covers work-for-hire agreements, and does not attack or defend any particular publisher, organization, or person. The information presented here has been gathered and researched by professionals from across the industry.

If you’re being offered lower than standard page rates from a publisher, contact us and we will make this information public, your identity will remain anonymous.


There is a survey attached, and although it asks for names, even if you’re a bit iffy about that I’d suggest going in and plugging in your information. 

I guess you all know this, but keeping rates secret DOES NOT HELP TALENT, it only helps companies. I understand the natural reticence and possible jealous stares over pages rates, but this kind of survey is badly needed.

It’s no secret that some companies page page rates for art that are well below the industry minimum. These low paying jobs are not necessarily evil but young creators, especially, need to know that there is a RANGE of rates, not just low paying gigs. 

I don’t know who is behind this effort, and that no one has spoken up for it shows how perilous it is in this industry to even mention such things as fair wages. Hopefully the survey will be a real thing and we’ll get some insights into the comics pay scale c. 2015. 

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12 COMMENTS

  1. Hi! I just want to say I have NOTHING to do with Fair Page Rates, although their entire front page is basically my and my friends’ work: https://storify.com/alexdecampi/rates-of-pay-in-comics (and quite a popular post on my tumblr). You can see it even down to the British spellings of things like colour. I just got the email like everyone else, which was mildly surprising.

    I’d also note their colour rates are too high — as was my original slide, until corrected by a couple of prominent colourists (see Storify linked above). So, um, the people behind this probably aren’t colourists.

    While I am absolutely thrilled that we as an industry are starting to talk more about this (*cough*UNIONISE NOW*cough*) I am a little weirded out by the erasure of my work and the accompanying quite important discussion by other pros, ESPECIALLY as the site is basically about valuing creators’ work. If they had emailed me first I would of course had said yes, use it, but just to take and run rubs me the wrong way.

  2. Okay! Got contacted by the organizers, all good, they’re going to drop a link to the Storify in the FAQ. Just a lot of people rushing to get things done before leaving for conventions, so wires got a little crossed.

  3. First thing: This is an issue that goes well beyond artists to freelancers of all types. Contract workers and freelancers should be included in any new minimum wage laws (or any other labor laws, for that matter).

    Second thing: I think autocorrect messed up “whoever” in the update.

  4. Yes, everyone should be paid fairly. But how does one quantify how long a page of comic art should take? Jack Kirby could pencil and write three pages or more a day. Should that be a standard? Many of today’s artists (for good or bad) have a tough time turning out three pages or less a week. Would *that* be the standard?

    Obviously, no company is going to pay for someone to take as long as they want for a page to be completed to the artist’s satisfaction. Budgets are finite. Even those productive days that Kirby worked were long ones by all accounts. I’ve read he would work as much as 10 to 16 hours a day. Would artists be entitled to time and a half after 8 or 10 hours a day? If a budget gives an artist, say, 16 hours (2 days) to finish a page, but the artist takes 24 (3 days), is the employer expected to pay for that extra day? I can’t imagine any publisher paying an artist unauthorized overtime. Could the artist’s work be taken away when time was up so someone else could finish the job?

    I have no idea how anyone can survive making 100 to 300 dollars drawing a page of sequential art. That’s a lot of work for little money. But I just don’t see how minimum wages would work in comics.

  5. slightly off topic…is there any caption info for that photograph? Its pretty amazing.

    Yes, the comics industry really really needs to get up to speed like other creative industries who share information on rates, contracts etc freely through professional organizations. Its pretty awful that everyone’s happy making pennies on the dollar vs what they should be earning.

  6. The current minimum wage is 7.25 an hour or 15k a year. There are 40 hours a week and 260 working days, which translates to one page per day or one issue per month. Which means 58 USD per page.

  7. I can’t see an hourly page rate ever working, for the obvious reasons mentioned above: some artists work faster than others. Also, some artists produce work that is more detailed than others; should they earn more because their art has more fine detail? Or should faster artists earn more because they can handle more stories in a month?

    But a fair page rate is definitely important. Good luck in shining a light on the companies that are not paying a fair ‘piece rate’.

  8. Hi Al and Risbo,

    I took the time to answer your questions on the news/resources section of fairpagerates.com, i’ve also included MIT’s fair wages calculator that determines wages based on local costs of different areas of the US. Here is the answer to your question, as written on the website:

    How does $15 per hour work for a freelance cartoonist? Don’t some artists work slower or faster?

    Although we are paid in page rates, we can calculate our hourly wages by taking the total payment for a page and dividing that by total time spent working on that page. The $15 per hour minimum is a living wage guideline that helps assess whether you are being paid a fair page rate. For instance, if an artist can finish 5 pages a week, at $150 a page, the artist makes $750 a week. For a 40 hour work week, that breaks down to $18.75 per hour. Making sure that an artist is paid a fair page rate ensures that they are paid a living wage.

  9. It is indeed Milton Caniff in his studioin that photo. You can see more of his studio in this video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUpm9HzyIDQ

    This project reminds me of Neal Adams’ story from his early days in comics, he asked Curt Swan what his page rate was, and Swan was reluctant to answer. Adams then told Swan that his (Adams’) page rate was $50, which Swan was surprised at since his rate was only $45 (numbers from memory). So Swan was able to get a pretty substantial pay increase the next week (I’m not sure if he had a formal or even understood agreement at that time, but I know some creators have had “favoured nation” deals where they had to at least match the highest page rate the company offered, which isn’t worth much if everyone keeps their page rates a secret). So good to know that it only took comic pros about 40-50 years to learn the lesson of that story.

  10. Living wage is not the same as minimum wage. There are many who prefer drawing comics for 15k a year to working at Walmart. In addition, there are many international creators who work for less because living wage in their countries is lower than the US. Finally, there are hundreds of small press projects and no way they pay $150 pp, simply because it’s vanity press. So your recommended rate is good to know but impossible to enforce.

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