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  1. #1
    Incredible Member tib2d2's Avatar
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    Default Who pays who with creator-owned comics?

    I'm trying to understand the basic business model of an Independent comic publisher like IDW, Image, Dark Horse, etc and creator owned titles.

    You have the creator, who owns the rights to the character and title. You the creator's own company/imprints (skybound, top cow, etc). And you have the publisher, Image or IDW, etc.

    Who pays who? Does the Publisher pay the imprint a flat rate for the rights to print and sell the comics to the distributor? Does the Imprint get a piece of the sales if the print runs are higher than normal?

  2. #2
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Probably depends on the agreement between the publisher and the creator(s)?

  3. #3
    Meteor Freak Personamanx's Avatar
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    It varies significantly. But from what I read, you don't expect a publisher to pay you anything unless you give up some media rights. Otherwise you front most of the cost yourself, and hope that it pays out eventually.

  4. #4
    Incredible Member tib2d2's Avatar
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    But this is why I'm confused. Who's actually giving money to the imprint? Does the Publisher keep all revenue from the issues sales?

  5. #5
    Ultimate Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tib2d2 View Post
    But this is why I'm confused. Who's actually giving money to the imprint? Does the Publisher keep all revenue from the issues sales?
    Again, depends on what was agreed to by both sides as to who gets what money in the long run.
    I would assume the money for the actual ordered/purchased comic book probably goes initially to whoever printed/supplied the comic book to distributors / the digital service, and then it would likely be up to whoever published the actual comic book to make sure the other parties involved are paid whatever they are owed per the agreement, but I don't think we can say for sure that's the way it is in every single case.

    By the way, why are you asking?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by tib2d2 View Post
    But this is why I'm confused. Who's actually giving money to the imprint? Does the Publisher keep all revenue from the issues sales?
    Varies, I would imagine. Companies like Dark Horse and IDW tend to offer contract work, with page rates and everything for their licensed properties (think Alien vs. Predator, Transformers, etc.). When the intellectual property of a comic does not lie with a company, but remains with the creator(s), I'm assuming some sort of arrangement is negotiated instead. It's clearer with Image, who kinda fly the creator-owned banner highest.

    Here's how Image did it, at least a few years ago, if I remember correctly: a creative team comes up with a comic series/graphic novel. They pitch it to Image, who would usually offer a flat printing rate (barring some options like nicer paper stock etc.), plus a small percentage-based fee to keep Image headquarters running. I believe there was a moment where they dropped that fee over single issues entirely, since trade paperback collections did so well.
    So creators would pay Image a more-or-less fixed cost up front (depending on print run size). Any profit made over the comic goes directly to the creators; whether they sold 1 issue or 100,000. Again, I do think Image asked for some sort of percentage-based fee, but I'm blurry on the details.

    That's why, at least a few years ago, you saw a massive influx of major creative talents coming to Image: they could bring in established audiences from Marvel/DC. While publishing through Image did mean they'd have to fork up the printing costs up-front, the take-away at the end was equal or bigger than the pagerates Marvel/DC could offer, even at much lower print runs.
    Additionally, since they owned the intellectual property, those creators could then also leverage those in adaptation deals. Mark Millar routinely sold adaptation rights to 20th Century Fox and now Netflix for example; Boom! Studios has (had?) a "first look" agreement with 20th Century Fox for all the creator-owned comics published through them.

    Bear in mind I don't have any experience working in this industry, and things may have changed a bit too. But you would fairly regularly hear jubilant creators about how titles at Image averaging 8-10k monthly sales would result in higher profits than working on licensed comics doing triple those numbers. And you had full creative control, without company-mandated cross-over events derailing your series for half a year, so you can see why it is/was appealing to creators.

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