This week saw an insightful post from Skullkickers’ writer Jim Zub about the realities of comic publishing costs and profits. Basically after all other costs there’s very little left for the creators.

On a print run of 5000 comics (and many, many creator-owned titles sell less than that in the current market), it means $1250 to $2500 remains for those 4 important categories. Guess how that breaks down?

If the advertising cost was ZERO and publisher expenses were ZERO, then the writer and artist of a 20 page comic would still only get $31.25 to $62.50 EACH PER PAGE. Oops, no money in there for the cover art, sorry. Add in more people (inker, colorist, letterer, etc) and the amount would get split even further, but this is a BOGUS number. The publisher has expenses/staff to pay.

The reality is that once the publisher takes their share of what’s left (and they absolutely deserve it), there’s actually no money left for the creative team, let alone advertising.

This prompted retailer Kevin Boyd, owner of The Comic Book Lounge, to write on Facebook about pre-orders. This is exactly the kind of article we’d love to have up Kevin.

Preorders help us determine the minimum number of copies we should order of the next available issue (usually two down the line), and FOC is crucial for this as well, as it allows us to adjust our numbers of the one in-between. If a new book comes out and I order 5 number 1s, and I have one preorder, I’m watching the other 4 carefully. If at the end of the week I’m left with 4 copies, I slash my order for the next issue. If I’m sold out I need to consider bumping my order of the next one.

So hand in hand small press comics and retailers are working to get these books out to the comic reading public.

You may be asking yourself “why do I care about what profit comic creators make or how well my local comic shop does”, and if that’s the case you’re an idiot. Marvel and DC are for the most part producing capes in tights comics, month in and month out. If you like comics outside of that very narrow genre then you’re most likely buying and reading comics from small press publishers.

Trade paperback and graphic novel readers may be wondering why they should worry about these scenarios, and the simple fact is that the current comics production system works by producing a 22 page comic serially and then collecting them in a book format. There are no advances for graphic novelists from comic publishers, therefore most comic creators need a regular paycheck like the rest of us and can only afford to work on a long comic in between regular paying jobs.

Read online previews and put in pre-orders at your local comic shop; help out everyone in the production line by letting them know you want their comic.