Working in Comics: Part 2: Get to know who’s hiring you

What to do when things does not move Part 2: Requesting free bread.

“Is this guy for real?”

That’s what I thought and still think my overreaction was quite normal, regarding the fact still I can’t believe this guy who was trying to hire me.

Last time I wrote about working in Comics, was here, and I told you about speediness and amount of profitable work you could accept. Several weeks had passed and well, I needed to give some update of my thoughts about this beautiful job. What to do when things are not moving at your speed, remember? Now, let’s see what happens when you are being asked to move in a different rhythm as usual.

After a couple of weeks without any new job things started to move.

One of the possible deals was inking a comic book for a upcoming publisher. An Irish friend of mine, penciler was on board and it sounded promising. But here was the catch. Despite the editor (… or writer… or penciler as I finally learned the guy was…) was very eager to start, he could only pay backend.

I thought it could be a interesting addition to my portfolio, but I finally couldn’t accept it, since I got two new paid projects for Dec and Jan 2014 that came almost immediately as this one. So I wrote to this person telling him that thanks, but I had to decline his offer.

Most important thing: be professional, work as many projects you can handle without compromise quality and keep close communication to your client.

Back to topic: Back end projects are… well… difficult. They are a great way to develop many things of your craft. You can work in a professional playground, meeting deadlines, the level of demanded quality is way more demanding and it can end with a great project, meet and collaborate with new artists and eventually get your work printed and get paid. But there’s another side of backend projects. Sometimes they don’t have clear plan about where to be printed, it’s distribution and sometimes they are only based on dreams, not plans. Besides, since it’s not a clear project and professional relationship, teams tend to broke apart before they start and it’s very, very difficult that the payment you might get is not as close as your page rate.

I have accepted some backend projects, so I know what I mean. Actually I am waiting some pages to come, this time for Emerald Star Comics.  the planning I was offered was detailed in some emails, I know the team closely and I like the project.

But, some other times, if the other party can’t understand your decision of not taking part of his project you can find these kind of answers:

Captura de pantalla 2013-12-19 00.53.37

Several things that I want to point out:

– I want to take a lesson from this situation, so I won’t post any bad vibes from this issue.

– I wish this guy nothing but success, but here’s a lesson for both to learn.

– He claims he can hire Front paid, but he never told me that until this letter, as long as I know. I have never been offered “half” or full front payment, this was only backend.

– For newer artists: it’s difficult to us being in the same place as our editors/writers/publishers… When I see this kind of self-confidence mixed with an extremely eager demand of trusting their work no matter what, get suspicious. I have meet these situations some other time, where “my idea will change comics” makes me wonder about my adamant skepticism towards pretty much everything. Maybe I am way too much convinced that you can’t beat the giants whether you ride a horse or a tank and they are only windmills, but I find hard to fall in love with something I can’t rely on. I am on the comic book inking business, not the love business. So when I am asked for my services retributed with nothing more than love for the story telling and commitment to the project, my desk wonders if I can pay my brushes and inks with that love. Just for once, please do this exercise: forget the bills, the talent and the product, forget the hours I spent per page and forget that I love what I do. If I only worked for the materials I use and need to constantly buy in order to accomplish my goals, these kind of projects does not suit for me. Can’t pay with love. Sorry, tried that last time and didn’t work.

– I try to be more of the kind “what you see is what you get”: Want great inking? Want to meet deadlines? Need to improve your pencils with my inks? I am your guy. My job is not free, because I need to pay bills, to eat and more important because every job demands to be paid. It needs to be rewarded. I don’t go to the bakery and ask the baker to give me his bread, because it’s a primary food to sustain a human body, or even worse, because he loves to bake some bread at 4 AM. He needs to be paid and with that money he can buy more ingredients to keep baking bread. As simple as that.

It’s amazing how in artistically environments free jobs are so easily requested.

Oh, on the other hand maybe I am rejecting being part of a project that really would change comics.

So, keep close info of the people you are in touch. See what have they published before, comments about their work and professionalism, if they have a clear plan. And above all, don’t give your work for free.

Bests and hope I don’t scared you.



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Born in Barcelona, 1977, now I live in Chile. I'm currently working as a inker or letterer for several American, New Zealand or UK publishers like Beyond Reality Media, Alterna Comics, Advent Comics, Insane Comics, IDW Publishing, Ariete Producciones and Dogitia among others.

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