Saturday, April 14, 2012

COMIC BOOK WRITERS: How to Hire an Artist?

I regularly meet novelists, screenwriters, playwrights and other interested parties who believe that creating a graphic novel will jump start their careers. There are many resources out there that teach writers how to format their ideas into a compelling comic book script but there are precious few that explain how writers can hire or find artists to draw their work.

The two best websites for finding quality artistic talent over the years have been:



I suggest doing proper research on how to format an "artist want ad" and then taking your chances there.

I do a free online podcast series called WRITING FOR ROOKIES that explains this subject in greater detail. My second episode deals exclusively with how to hire artists and what to look out for when you're trying to get the best art team for the money:

My general pointers are:

a) Make sure that you have a budget in mind and know how many pages you want for your story (24 pages for a single issue, 96-128 for a graphic novel). A 96-page book can run anywhere between $6,000 - $12,000 to fully produce unless you set up a deal with your art team.

b) Have a fully completed script. Don't write it as the art team draws it.

c) Understand that you will need to hire a penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer - many pencilers do their own inking and some pencilers do their own coloring too - you need to know exactly what your art team is best suited for.

d) Be selective of the art team. Find an artist whose style matches the exact visual sensibility that communicates what your story is like at first glance. Guys who draw in the SpongeBob style probably won't suit a Punisher or Daredevil kind of story. Don't hire the first people who respond to your ad. There will be HUNDREDS of responses to your ad and you should set aside the time to look at every email. You will find the person you're looking for.

e) Create a separate business email account. Once you post up an ad at or DeviantArt, expect a large volume of responses.

f) I would say only to hire an artist in the U.S., not because international talent isn't any good, but because it's harder to track down someone who lives in Brazil or Indonesia if they decide to flake out on the project. Best case scenario: hire someone in your own city. It's difficult, but it will help keep your project on track when you can GO to their house to find out what's taking so long with them completing the work.

g) Expect delays and plan around them. I've NEVER, EVER dealt with an art team that stuck to deadlines. There's always going to be a reason they can't meet the deadlines so plan to add at least 2-3 weeks to your production schedule. Don't tell them that, but make sure you leave that extra space.

h) If the person you hired doesn't look like they want to finish, then you fire them and get the money back (or the percentage owed to you for uncompleted work). Make sure that this is in the contract: if the artist(s) don't finish the work, they must refund whatever you've paid them minus the work they have completed.

i) Don't get into bidding wars with artists (i.e. "You're not paying me enough per page!" or "I used to work for Marvel/DC/Dark Horse etc. and I got paid $XXXX per page!") If this happens, walk away immediately. There are about 5 guys out there who pull this stunt every single time. The same dude has responded to my ads over the years and tries to pull this crap until I remind him that he has done this to me already.

j) Remember that you're now a boss/manager. Be steady, be fair, but protect your assets. If the integrity of your work is damaged, then you need to be ready to hire a whole new group of people. Don't tolerate half-ass attitudes and diva behavior. The comics market is tough and sub par work does not get you recognized.