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.



Unknown said...

This is great info. I know a bunch of comic book writers, they've told me about how big a pain it is finding a new artist.

Sarah said...

"Funny you should mention this." I have a whole chapter on this in the book I just finished. :)

The one thing I'd add to what you say is that folks should also check out Artists Alley at any local convention. You'll get to meet local artists who should have sequential pages for you to check out. And there are some mid-level professionals who also got to some smaller shows.

Negotiate page rates. Artists may be willing to take a lower page rate if they like the story or you are giving them the chance to visually create something new and unexpected (like a new monster).

Also, if you find a penciller you like and they don't do their own inking/coloring/lettering, as them if there is someone that they regularly work with that they can recommend.

Double check the inking style of any recommended inker. Because it isn't just the penciller that sets the "look" of your pages. The inker can have a lot of effect on it too.

JMRinguet said...

You can also hire me, I do all the art from pencils to color, even lettering, I'm very good with deadlines and I have reasonable rates per page (I have been published several times, most notably at Image).

My site:

I'm only looking for work for hire projects with a budget, I can't afford collaborations at the moment.

Chokula99 said...

thanks for the info, you brob saved me 5 years of wasted struggle and frustration.

Unknown said...

I've had two very bad experience with artists trying to get my project off the ground. Money isn't an issue with them it seems; the days of the starving artist is dead. The more accomplished comic book artist is very hard to find.(Forget about it) Albeit, the not so accomplished artist lacks the experience, and will fall short on the work. I have drawn paneled layouts of each page with detailed pencil drawings. Included detailed scripts, and information right out of my books. I have sent links and actually pictures for character reference. They don't look closely at the drawings, don't read the script, don't open links, or download pics, and won't read a paragraph out of the book. They complained all the time about not having enough time but they did sign a contract with a due date. I did give them too much extra time and they still took advantage of me and couldn't produce. Always missing due dates but seemed to always be busy with someone else's project because they get bored real fast so they want something new... Anyhow, mostly what the author said here is right but I kinda disagree about the script part. The artist doesn't need to know the dialogue but you need to draw arrows and explain emotion. Plus, wait until all the art work is all done before you send it off the the letterer. I kept having to tweak the script, and story because the artist kept altering my panels and layouts. The artist I found was very good but needed a lot of direction. I started to see panels he created with art back words, and I realized he had dyslexia. As we got into even more, I found he couldn't handle being told what to draw and wanted to do his own thing. I kept telling him that it must have continuity with the book. BTW, I write Speculative Sci-Fi/Dystopian...easy comic book translation stuff. I have a BS in Radiological Science and a BA in Film & Multi-media.

JMRinguet said...

I am still available for work-for-hire projects. I have worked with dozens of private clients, from a few pages to full series and hundred pages graphic novels.

My updated portfolio is:


Unknown said...

@JMRinguet please shoot me an email looking for an artist to do a script.

Glenn Drake said...

How does Image comics work? If you have a good script and they want to publish it, will they hire the artists for you or do you have to spend your own money on a book and then Image just puts their logo on the cover?

Glenn Drake said...

How does Image comics work? If you have a good script and they want to publish it, will they hire the artists for you or do you have to spend your own money on a book and then Image just puts their logo on the cover?