From the Eric Reynolds interview at The Comics Reporter on the productivity of Mome cartoonists

I feel like we’re in a good groove now, just by widening the pool a bit so people can take an issue or two off, here and there. Most of these folks have jobs, and ten pages every four months is a lot to ask, I can tell you myself.

Is it just us or is that a highly depressing rate of speed?


  1. What the heck is a Mome?

    I think even with a full-time job that few pages is amazingly tiny. I also think it’s a shame that so many artists have to supplement such a labor-intensive craft by having full-time jobs because they don’t get duly compensated.

  2. I drew a lot more than that when I had a job. I remembering reading that Paul Pope did something like 80 pages one month, so that’s what I always shot for. I never came very close, but I did 12 pages in one day once (see the second chapter of my book Quit Your Job… the first 12 pages of chapter 2 were drawn in one day.)

  3. Page production rate can vary a lot with style. I can produce a completed page (pencils, inks, tones, lettering) in about 12 hours on average. If I drew in a style as economical as James’ I could do it in 2-4 hours. Steve Rude can pencil a page a day (and his pencils are pretty tight), I’m told, but it took him eight months to _paint_ an 8-page back-up story for NEXUS #100.

    But yeah, 10 ordinary comics pages in four months seems slow, even for someone with a full-time job. Back in my Malibu days I worked 40-hour weeks in other art-related jobs, then went home and penciled 4 pages per week, or two fully-completed pages per week.

  4. Well, it’s not like MOME is the only thing most of these folks are doing, creatively, on top of day job. Either way, an artist can only work as fast as he’s capable of. Just because Paul Pope can do 80 pages a month doesn’t really have any bearing on what Jonathan Bennett’s capable of. John, for example, has a full-time job, does freelance graphic design for Buenaventura and Francoise Mouly, illustration work, etc. Mome is but one venue for his creative pursuits.

  5. In all fairness, I can confirm that given the lack of money available in this business, it’s dang near impossible for a small publisher to get an artist to produce faster than he chooses to. In this environment, editors are pretty much at the mercy of creators. Even when you pay a bit of cash at the front end.

    The only solution I can see to this is to grow the market enough so that comics artists can earn as much drawing comics as they can doing advertising art, book cover illustrations, logo design, or whatever else they do to earn a living. And this is not by any means an easy solution, yet everyone here — creator, editor, critic, journalist, retailer, fan — can play a part in it.

  6. Exactly. If Mome sold well enough that I could pay everyone a much higher page rate, I’d probably be able to get people to do more.

  7. When the production rate is slower than one page weekly, I stop thinking of it as a “production RATE.” Maybe Eric’s experience is different, but I wouldn’t rely on anyone slower than that to produce a steady stream of work.

  8. It’s not an ideal rate, of course, but when you have a dayjob and you’re juggling commissioned pieces and your personal projects, I can totally understand that a short story takes so much time to be finished.

    A suggestion, if you allow me? Instead of complaining how much these artists take to finish a story, why don’t you buy their projects so they can devote their full time to making comics?

  9. I find it amusing that the newest reason that Mome isn’t up to par
    is that there aren’t enough pages being produced to object to.

  10. Eric, of course is rght. And here’s another angle… MOME might very well not be the top priority for every cartoonist in there. Let’s imagine if Paul Pope at the height of his manic productivity was also a contributor to MOME. After blazing through 80 pages of THB it might be tough to manage another 10 pages for MOME on top of that.

  11. I think the questions is rather simple to me. It there a deadline these artist must meet? If not, and it’s a long term “we get there when we get there” type thing, ok. If no pay is involved I can tell you as a professional, often those jobs get pushed to the side to take the paying work. .That’s the reality of freelance, that doesn’t mean you don’t love them more or wish you could do them all the time.

    Some artist are slow, have bad working habits, are super A.D.D., play to many video games, just like everybody else. And some poeples process to create isn’t liniar either.

    It often seems to the lay person we artist just sit and create, like turning on a machine, and we sort of “mill out” pages. Some can, some can’t. I can easily at least a page of anything a day, and have done 7-8 if I absolutely had to, but in those instances I am usually just there to provide the breakdowns.

    The other fact is that today there is really no penalty, or hardly any for being late in general, especially if you have any heat. How many books are now routinely late because the artist or writer is a big fish with bigger more high profile jobs?

    The old idea of what professionalism was in the 60’s and 70’s is gone, and that is in just about everything, not in just comics.

  12. I can remember reading that quote and sharing Heidi’s initial reaction, but as a long-time indy comics reader (and struggling artist myself) I know that unfortunately for a lot of comics artists, comics aren’t just their 2nd job but often their 3rd or 4th job. Many have a “real” full time job and do illustration or design on the side in an attempt to make that their full time job and then comics come later. Sadly, even if the rates were a bit better I’d imagine many people would still have a hard time cranking out enough pages at a fast enough clip to make it a full time gig as some people’s styles just don’t themselves to cranking it out very fast.

  13. I think Eric’s production rate expectations are pretty realistic if most of the contributors are working full-time jobs — and especially if they have families.

    I am perfectly capable of writing, penciling, inking and lettering a page per day, but if I’m working full time AND DOING NOTHING ELSE ON THE WEEKENDS BUT DRAWING, I could only generate eight pages per month.

    But even then, life just ain’t that simple — particularly, as I pointed out, if one has a family. And if the cartoonist also has a house, rather than an apartment, things can get even MORE complicated.

  14. …and when your full-time job is drawing (animation, storyboards, etc.), and you have a family, and you might have OTHER INTERESTS (shocking I know…I do like to get outside as often as possible) and this outside comic job pays a wage one doesn’t live on, I just don’t see the surprise.

  15. “ten pages every four months is a lot to ask”

    There my be good reasons for why an artist finds a page a week to be challenge enough, but calling it “a lot to ask” was maybe just unfortunate phrasing.

  16. Like most aspects of life, if you are passionate about something, in this case creating comic pages, you will spend more time and energy at it. Most of us work full time and can do other things after work and family obligations have been met.

    If you create comics at the rate of half a page per week, it is more of a pasttime or hobby than a serious undertaking.

    Unless you are doing something that requires research, reference, painting and such, imho.

  17. In the 40 years I have been creating comics and writing, I’ve been published hundreds of times. However, in almost all cases, there has been little or no pay — even when I had a contract. There have been two situations where I declined what would have been lucrative payments because I felt there would be an inherent conflict of interest (you had to be there), but for the most part, the $$$ well has been pretty dry.

    In fact, unless one counts “comps” as payment, I doubt that in those 40 years I’ve made $500 in total compensation.

    That being said, I love drawing comics, but I’m a practical working-class guy — I always have been — and unless some seismic shift occurs, money-wise, comics will remain nothing more than a “pasttime or hobby” for me. In that regards, I totally understand the MOME creators’ situation.