Rian Sygh is a brave man.  Rian is a comics artist who’s worked at BOOM!, Oni and Z2.  Here’s his Patreon page. (We’ll come back to that in a bit.) He’s put his finances on a Twitter thread for everyone to see.

If the topic is interesting to you, reading the entire thread is HIGHLY recommended, but here are some highlights:

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845671536501706753

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845672277354172418

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845672752128413696

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845673304748896256

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845673696345894912

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845674127872741376

Does all that sound a bit harsh?  Probably.  But it’s the very real situation of the cartoonist and if you ask around, you hear a lot of similar situations.  There’s nothing sensational or eye-popping about Rian’s story, he’s just brave enough to share it.

Outside of his normal freelancing, what’s keeping him afloat?

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845676193470910465

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845698109908881408

Again, when you talk to people you hear many, many stories about how the person would not be able to do it without a supportive partner and Patreon.  While he’s talking directly to _his_ experience, it’s an experience many creators share.

https://twitter.com/RianSygh/status/845699853363691520

And we’ll leave this conversation with Rian making a valid point.  Page rates and incomes tend to be tightly guarded secrets.  It makes it hard to negotiate or even anticipate possible earnings if you don’t have marketplace data.  That’s just a fact.

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

3 COMMENTS

  1. 13k a year for 1 person is just barely over the federal poverty line (11k) and a bit less than you’d make on fed minimum wage at a full time job. And he claims he’s doing better than a lot of other indie comics people! Its amazing that anyone can make a living off of comics.

  2. I’m a webcomic creator with a few books in print, and Rian’s numbers make me feel like a frigging Trump. I just did my taxes and looks like I cleared about 23k last year between Patreon and book sales. I work 80 hours a week and I love it, but this isn’t a lifestyle I would ever encourage anyone to pursue. It’s not sustainable, it’s not healthy, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    I think the harsh truth is there’s not a lot of money in comics for anyone. Publishers are leeches, but even self-publishing as I do doesn’t net you much dough. With a few freakish exceptions, comics are a very niche medium. There aren’t that many people reading them, there are even fewer people buying them, and competition is fierce.

    We are never going to make the money we want. Ever. Artists never do. We’re creating an unnecessary luxury commodity, and though I think we should have access to affordable healthcare (this is mostly a US issue) and housing, I also think we have to make peace with our probable, perpetual poverty, and peace with the inescapable fact that we are not very important members of society.

    It sucks, man, I know, but we do get to be our own bosses, play by our own rules, and garner great satisfaction from our product. You can’t buy a cup of coffee with personal satisfaction but I still place great value on it. I wouldn’t keep doing this every day if I didn’t.

  3. Artists, Don’t be like Trump. Release your tax returns!!

    I think the ones that make lots of money wouldn’t do it because 90% of your peers would then hate you.

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