Australian Comics Creators “Who Do You Think You Are?”: Survey 2015 Summary – PART 3

Cartoon People 2

A research project was initiated in early 2015 to determine how the Australian comics community had changed during the six years since a similar survey was conducted by the Australian Society of Authors Comics / Graphic Novels Portfolio.

Part 1 and Part 2 revealed the typical Australian comics creator as being:

A 30-39 year old male who lives in Sydney, NSW, with a university degree. He is an established professional and indie creator. He is invariably a writer, but if he takes on art duties then he would be doubling up on pencilling and inking. He also collaborates with other talent. He mostly creates science fiction short stories for comic books targeted at men and women readers, aged 16+. His published works are available both in print and digitally. He mostly self-publishes, and his books are predominantly available only in Australia. He owns and controls the copyright in his comics works, as well as his subsidiary rights. He works 5 to 10 hours a week on his creative practice, and under 5 hours a week on associated business activities. He earns on average of $1 and $1000 annual income from his comics, and that income has increased during the last five years. It predominantly comes from sales in the Australian market. He also earns some other arts-related income, which averages $1001 to $5000 annually. In addition, he earns over $50,000 annually from non-arts-related income.

Publishers’ Work Practices

In regards to comics creators being asked to audition for a comics job:

  • 67% had not been asked
  • 31% had been asked
  • 2% are unsure.

Of the comics creators who had been asked to audition for a comics job:

  • 86% had not been paid a fee
  • 14% had been paid a fee.

Furthermore, in terms of what capacity or role comics creators had been asked to audition:

  • 60% were asked for pencilling
  • 40% were asked for inking
  • 34% were asked for colouring
  • 31% were asked for writing
  • 29% were asked for concept art
  • 23% were asked for page layout (shot, panel design)
  • 14% were asked for lettering.

Publishing Contracts

In terms of whether Australian comics creators were under exclusive contract with any comics publisher or studio:

  • 96% were not under exclusive contract
  • 4% were under exclusive contract.

For those comics creators who were working for mainstream publishers, or comics publishers or studios, their recent contracts have been based on the following types of payments:

  • 57% were page rates contracts
  • 54% were royalty contracts
  • 4% were hourly or day rates contracts.

In terms of those comics creators who signed royalty contracts, what kind of structure was the contract based on:

  • 38% were based on net receipts
  • 25% were neither net receipts or recommended retail price
  • 19% were based on recommended retail price
  • 19% were based on both.

For those comics creators who do receive royalties:

  • 53% did not get an advance
  • 37% did get an advance
  • 10% sometimes get an advance.

For those comics creators who signed royalty contracts:

  • 65% do receive royalty statements
  • 19% do not receive royalty statements
  • 16% sometimes receive royalty statements.

Furthermore:

  • 40% of comics creators who signed royalty contract receive royalty statements twice a year
  • 28% of comics creators who signed royalty contract receive royalty statements quarterly
  • 24% of comics creators who signed royalty contract receive royalty statements under “Other” timing
  • 8% of comics creators who signed royalty contract receive royalty statements annually.

In addition:

  • 56% of comics creators have an awareness of the life of the sale of their work
  • 28% of comics creators do not have an awareness of the life of the sale of their work
  • 16% of comics creators sometimes have an awareness of the life of the sale of their work.

For those comics creators who get paid page rates:

  • 43% do not get the opportunity to earn royalties once the page rates earn themselves out
  • 20% sometimes get the opportunity to earn royalties once the page rates earn themselves out
  • 20% do not know if they can earn royalties once the page rates earn themselves out
  • 17% do get the opportunity to earn royalties once the page rates earn themselves out.

In what forms have recent agreements and contracts taken:

  • 68% of comics creators have been written contracts or agreements
  • 50% of comics creators have agreements in the form of email correspondence
  • 29% of comics creators have verbal agreements
  • 3% of comics creators classified their agreements as “Other”.

Collaborator Agreements

In terms of whether comics creators have contractual arrangements with other comics collaborators (artists, writers, letterers etc):

  • 56% do not
  • 27% do
  • 17% “sometimes” have contractual arrangements with collaborators.

Furthermore:

  • 70% of these contracts pertain to comic books
  • 49% of these contracts pertain to contributions to anthologies
  • 43% of these contracts pertain to graphic novels
  • 15% of these contracts pertain to digital comics
  • 9% of these contracts pertain to comic / cartoon strips
  • 8% of these contracts pertain to zines
  • 4% of these contracts pertain to web comics
  • 4% of these contracts pertain to “Other” categories.

In terms of whether comics creators are satisfied with their contracts / agreements:

  • 68% are satisfied
  • 23% are sometimes satisfied
  • 9% are unsatisfied.

Networking

In terms of whether comics creators are in contact with other creators:

  • 81% are in contact
  • 10% are sometimes in contact
  • 9% are not in contact.

For those comics creators who are in contact with other creators:

  • 92% are in contact via social media
  • 62% are in contact at comics meet ups
  • 57% are in contact at social get-togethers
  • 20% are in contact via Skype
  • 18% are in contact at workshops
  • 14% are in contact via “Other” ways.

Professional Development Needs

In terms of what type of professional development comics creators feel they need at this time in their career:

  • 62% need to develop / improve their publicity, promotion and PR skills
  • 61% need access to new markets
  • 47% need to develop / improve their art skills
  • 45% need to develop / improve their writing skills
  • 43% need to learn how to maintain motivation and passion
  • 40% need to learn how to develop / implement business plans
  • 33% need to understand how to place a value on their creative work
  • 28% need to understand comics project management
  • 20% need to develop / improve their lettering skills
  • 17% need to learn how money works.

In terms of which learning opportunities comics creators are likely to attend:

  • 57% like half day face-to-face workshops
  • 54% like one day face-to-face day workshops
  • 44% like weekend intensive workshops
  • 23% like 90 minute to half day online short course over 6 to 8 weeks
  • 22% like half day face-to-face short course over 6 to 8 weeks
  • 21% like half day online workshops
  • 17% like one day online workshops
  • 10% have “Other” preferences.

To add to our developing profile of the typical Australian comics creator:

He has not been asked to audition for any comics jobs, and he is not under exclusive contract to any comics publisher or studio. He mostly operates with written contracts in place, and is paid page rates, but he does not receive any royalties once the rates earn themselves out. He is aware of the life of the sales of his work, and overall he is satisfied with his contractual arrangements. He maintains contact with other comics creators in his network for the most part via social media. The area he needs to most develop and improve in his professional life is that of his publicity, promotion and PR skills.

The profile of the typical Australian comics creator is now complete.

 

© Julie Ditrich, 2016

 

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