Career as a Comic Book Artist
If you are talented both in illustrating and storytelling, you might want to consider a career as a comic book artist. Depending on your passion or interest, you may also specialize in specific genres such as superhero comics, manga, alternative or esoteric, actions and adventures, adult, horror, humor, science fiction, and children’s comics. On average, a comic book freelance illustrator could earn between US$100 and US$300 per page. Illustrators who are regular employees of comic book companies may earn lower or higher depending on the company. Small companies pay less while well-known companies like Marvel pay more. Elite illustrators could earn as much as $US1,000 per page. You may either do regular series or create your own graphic novel.
Publishing companies typically give advance payments per comic book project that has specified deadline that may range from a few weeks to several months. On average, mainstream comic books are published once a month and each comic book might be assigned to a team of illustrators and writers. On the other hand, there are projects that are done by only one illustrator. Well-established and well-known illustrators typically receive royalties on top of the advance payments that they receive. Royalties are paid when the sales of the comic books exceed the breakeven mark. The amount of royalties that a comic book artist could earn could be higher if he is the one who writes and draws the illustrations.
Comic book artists could easily earn an average salary of between US$20,000 and US$40,000 annually depending on the experience, skills, projects and companies. Some earn six-figure income based because of royalties. If you want to make a name in the industry, you could seek employment in big publishing comic book companies like Marvel or DC Comics. On the other hand, you may also create your own graphic novel and hope for it to become a bestseller. The latter path is harder to achieve if you are new in the business. Expect some initial failures should you decide to go solo and self-publish. It is still better to first establish a reputation and build a portfolio as an employee or contracted illustrator than to immediately try self-publishing.
In most cases, talent and passion are not sufficient to succeed as a comic book artist. You will also need education (either formal or informal) to learn the latest trend and technology in the comic book industry. For instance, you may need to learn various software applications for digitally rendering comic book characters. Going to school will also provide you with connections that could facilitate your entry as a professional in the comic industry.
Compared to other literature genres, comic book sales have been dramatically rising in terms of print sales as opposed to digital sales. Comic books have well-established fans and each niche have dedicated followers who collect comic books on a regular basis. The digital versions of comic books also have strong and sustainable sales. If you are planning to become a freelance comic book artist, there are many opportunities online that you can try.