For The Haters: The Weekly Business

Because I Didn’t Have Enough To Do Already…

I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to post a weekly column on my blog called The Weekly Business. These columns will address myths, falsehoods, half-truths and boldfaced lies surrounding the wacky world of freelance writing. Each week I’ll present a brass tacks, take no prisoners look into the hard realities of being a freelance writer.

Then again, I may just address something in the biz that’s irked me recently.

Like this week.

I decided to address this topic after reading many “outraged” comments about this particular writer’s workshop.

Comic Book Sell-Outs

I’m sure you’ve heard or read where certain creators (and aspiring creators) have disingenuously chastised other creators who make graphic novels for the purpose of using them as “sell sheets” to be shopped around Hollywood. These cartoon crusaders pound their chests, rent their clothing and unleash venomous attacks on creators who would dare besmirch their Holy Medium!

Yeah, you’ve seen ’em.

I say disingenuous because more than one of these creators have optioned a property–or several properties–for film or television adaptation after condemning other creators as “comic book sell-outs.” Did you ever hear them retract their statements?

No, of course not.

Listen, outraged creator, if you truly are a comic book purist and make comics for the sole reason that you love the medium, I applaud you. But don’t you dare accept a lucrative Hollywood deal if it comes. That would make you a “comic book sell-out” and a total hypocrite.

See how bloody ridiculous this argument is?

No? Then how about a reality check?

Freelance comic creators see little–if any–income from their published work. It’s a fact. Not many creators have the guts to admit it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Sure, there are some “big-name” freelancers who see a considerable amount of income from comic sales, but the majority of us haven’t seen one thin dime from the books we create after the exorbitant printing fees, “use of publisher’s logo fees,” office fees, and yada yada fees. It is truly an effort of love for the medium that drives us to tell our stories in a comic book format.

Having said that, I will not turn down a film option that puts food on my table and improves the quality of life for my family. I will not turn down a wonderful opportunity to bring my stories to a much broader audience. I love the comic book medium, but I’d have to be a fool to turn down that offer!

And so would you.

So whether you’re making comic books because you love the medium, or because you intend to use it to shop to Hollywood, what does it really matter? Graphic novels are an excellent medium to shop to Hollywood–regardless of your motivations for making ’em. And making comics is never a bad thing.

Wrapping It Up

You know… this looks like a fantastic lecture. Perhaps, if you are in the area, you could attend and learn something. Something that would allow you to use a medium you love to create something much, much bigger. Something that puts food in your bellies and hot coals in your furnace.

Something that isn’t hate.


12 thoughts on “For The Haters: The Weekly Business

  1. Beautiful Dwight! Couldn’t have said it better myself! I’ve got nothing to add.

  2. Had lunch with a buddy of mine who works in the movie and TV biz (not a celeb, he’s one of the craftsman types), and told him about what the margins are really like in the comic book business. He about choked – no one really knows how little the creators get, even on “hit” books.

  3. Indeed, Charles. It would be laughable–if it weren’t so tragically sad.

  4. Seems like graphic novels would be a GREAT way to shop a story around Hollywood. Isn’t the story somewhat storyboarded through the graphic novel? Seems like a perfectly acceptable practice to me. I would “sell out” in a second. It makes the art form we all love just that much more mainstream…and the more mainstream, the more of it we’ll get to see.

  5. Joel, indeed! It’s good for all of us. Glad you “get” it, and thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. I don’t completely disagree with you, but I don’t think the topic is as clear cut as you spell it out here.

    More often than not, the contempt I see is not for creators attempting to shop their stories around Hollywood-types. That’s their right and prerogative, and anyone calling them sell-outs for that IS an hypocrite. No one would disagree with that.

    BUT I have repeatedly seen a lot of comics (particularly from some companies that I won’t name) that are little else but glorified storyboards in the aspect that they were never intended to be comics in the first place. They are pretty easy to spot because they will usually have a credit that says “Created by” completely different from the “Written” and “Illustrated” credit. The “creators” in this case is usually a third party that commissions the story to be made into a comic so then they can shop it around as a Hollywood project.

    The quality of this kind of comic, more often than not, is not very good, particularly the art (again, you can spot it because the art is usually very static and stiff, perfect for a storyboard, not so much for a finished project). I wouldn’t call this inherently bad, because it DOES provide jobs for people in the industry. However, it often does not lead to good comics, and the attitude can be seen as condescending to the comic medium.

    Like I said, I don’t disagree with you completely, and I think it’s a topic worth exploring.

  7. To be honest, Matt, most of the current comics created by “comic creators” are crap. My point was that it’s not really doing any harm. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Likewise, film studios/producers pass on crappy graphic novels.

    Live and let live.

  8. I really enjoyed your article Dwight. Your work as a property is an
    inescapable fact from this industry anymore.

  9. Thanks for reading, Bruce. As always, your support is greatly appreciated.

  10. Thank you, my friend. And happy New Year to you and Andrea as well!

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