average pay rates for comic book artists:
|6 min read
johnchalos's avatar
By johnchalos   |   
442 175 122K (28 Today)
"Generally, the good graphic novels fetch $100 - $300 per page, although professionals who have been in the industry for a long time can command as much as three times that amount. In fact, one elite illustrator commanded as much as $1,000 a page (on a 22-page comic book)! Most of the popular titles that artists, like David Cassaday, work on are monthly issues, which end up providing him with a six-figure salary. The back-end royalties on merchandise, trade paperbacks and movie royalties are also generous."


"In 2008, Sean Jordan, founder of Army Ant Publishing, claimed established freelance comic book artists were paid anywhere from $220 to $4,400 per book project, which breaks down to $10 to $200 per page. Pencil and inker artists can ask for $75 to $200 a page. Colorists often fall in the range of $35 to $125, and writers and letterers make $10 to $50 a page. A lucky few dozen famous artists working for top companies bring in $1,000 per page."


"While, I'm at it, there's a big matzo ball sitting out there. Sean gives us a pretty good idea of his page rate, which works out to about $450 a page, inking included. We're not talking about a big name star in comics (yet), but that's a lot of cost for talent, especially, when you're talking about a guy whose known work was on moderate selling Vertigo books."


"I highly encourage artists to NEVER charge less than minimum wage for their hourly rate when they are figuring out their prices. If you are going off the hourly as a way to figure out base prices. For the US, $7.25 is a very common minimum wage, so I suggest you round it up to $8 at least. Even at $8 an hour, your page rate should be $40 a page, assuming you spend 5 hours total on it. This method of figuring out your base really depends on tracking and making good use of your time. If your time is highly variable, you might need to use another method.

Another pricing strategy some amateurs/aspiring professionals take the base professional rate and half it as a way of figuring out their base price to break in and slowly raise their prices as they fall into more demand.

You may be tempted as an artist to under charge, and under value your skill. The fear of being denied a job because of charging a decent rate is a huge reason why artists don't get paid well. DO NOT UNDERCHARGE for your skill level. It devalues your work, and devalues every other artist's work too. Try to stay in line with other artists of your skill and resume level, and what you need to charge to cover your bills and make a living."


"Figure $100 for the writer, $150 for the penciller, $130 for the inker, $90 for the colorist, and $30 for the letterer. Those numbers go up and down depending on talent and publishers, but that's a nice round number for us to work with."


"Top comic book artists reportedly make around $500 per page; that figure varies depending on the artist's popularity and the publisher he is working for. The best comic book artists may make around $80,000 a year."

"The first rule of freelancing is that paying work comes first. Love don't pay the rent."

"Though he won't reveal what he makes, his page rate—the amount an artist charges per page drawn—is among the highest in the business. Given that an elite illustrator can command up to $1,000 a page for a 22-page comic book and that most popular titles are monthlies, a top talent like Cassaday can comfortably clear six figures annually. And that's not counting potential back-end royalties for merchandise, trade paperbacks, and spin-offs, which are negotiated separately."

"I know a lot of people say this, BUT persistence truly is key. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Never give up. What one editor doesn't like, the next might think is gold. Also, never let yourself be taken advantage of. Never work for free. Always require pay, never work on the promise of pay if profits are met.

Not to sound pompous or conceited, just be confident in your work. Remain humble at the same time. You never know who you'll meet in the industry and who will be working for which company down the line. Don't burn bridges."

When I first started, I would keep my price lower than maybe I should, but if you're going to make a living, you have to stand up for yourself and be a great agent for your work. Be proud and confident in what you do. They need your services, and you just need to decide who is lucky enough to receive those services.


"Even if you are lucky enough to get an extended run on something, you're still not making $6,000 a month. Remember those extended production times? Yeah... these days, most comic book artists need more than a month to pencil a book, much less pencil AND ink a book. Some creators can, of course, but again, they're the exception. And to come in even CLOSE to the deadlines you have to work under in comics means a lot of long hours at the art table, 8-12 hours a day, depending on how fast you can draw."


"For creator-owned books – which, again, do not always generate page rates – that amount ranged from $17 to $100 per page, while for-hire naturally was much higher. On the low end, publishers like Boom! and IDW paid between $50 and $150, with the higher end found publishers like Marvel, DC and Dark Horse paying upwards of $300 per page, topping out at nearly $500."


anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
johnchalos's avatar
johnchalosProfessional General Artist
Robert Marzullo
Published on Jan 1, 2019
What do I Charge for My Comic Art and Why??

predatorhunter79's avatar
predatorhunter79Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very useful articles. I'm a penciller, but in my country the wages are very very poor. I work on pencils\inks and color and the paymemt sucks, but I sacrifice myself to gain prestige/name . I'll send art samples to some USA editorials. Can you review my deviantart? Greetings from Chile, Southamerica.
johnchalos's avatar
johnchalosProfessional General Artist
Some great information about Marvel and DC.

Blueoriontiger's avatar
BlueoriontigerHobbyist Artist
What's your advice for a good flat rage per page? I ask for about $20-25/page and have gotten work for that, but someone was telling me today that I was "not competitive", and that I need to charge $10/page.
johnchalos's avatar
johnchalosProfessional General Artist
When you add up the cost of the supplies that you used (pens, paper, ink, etc. -- or an equivalent percentage of your software/hardware) and an hourly rate that justifies the time taken away from other paying work or even personal projects*, that's just basic compensation. It should at least come out to min wage plus supplies. Anything beyond that is determined by your skill level and your value -- things you'll have to evaluate for yourself.

All I know is, it takes me a full day or more to pencil a semi-realistic page and I can't afford to work an entire day for $10/day whether I want to or not. Inking it would take another day and could cost me that entire $10 in pens and ink. If I can both pencil and ink a page in a less demanding style in less than an hour (which I can) then maybe $10 is worth it. It depends on the investment you are making and how much you value your time.

* More often than not, I decide my time would probably be better spent honing my skills so my pages are worth enough someday to justify a higher page rate. In that way, personal time drawing my own projects can be more valuable to me than the $10 I earn from taking an assignment.
Reenigrl's avatar
ReenigrlStudent General Artist
I'm glad I found this. I recently was asked if I would be interested in inking and coloring one of my professors comics. And I was not sure how I should go about pricing per page. I'm always afraid I would over price or under price myself. I definitely need to take time to clock my self and see how long it takes me to ink and color a page. Thank you for posting this. It was greatly helpful.
Livington-Guy's avatar
At a freelance artist myself (I have a real job behind), I know the evidence of payment for the cartoonists works but didn't for each pages it's made. Since I do it all by myself, this journal is pretty usual if someday, I decide to pick my works to a book editor. I can't just thank you enough to make these statements clear at possible and educate fans and even several artists like me to the reality of what artists really wins for their works and for be able to paid their rents.

(Sorry if it may misunderstood you. I'm not an english-speaker person, tough I write very much in english for the need of this website.)
GoblinGrimm1's avatar
GoblinGrimm1Professional General Artist
Good to know. This is why everyone on a facebook group I posted in are acting like I'm having a huge sale on doing sequential pages for $25 a page for pencils. Had no idea I could charge a lot more and still be reasonably priced for a beginner.
johnchalos's avatar
johnchalosProfessional General Artist
NakuNakuTenshi's avatar
NakuNakuTenshiProfessional Traditional Artist
Now please answer me for sake of not devaluing mine and others skills should I commit suicide because the wage I can get is at best 20-30 USD for inking and penciling and most of potential clients just say "it's not what we are looking for" or should I stay unemployed and starve hoping I won't die before i get decent payment?
johnchalos's avatar
johnchalosProfessional General Artist
The purpose of this thread isn't to shame you. Your art has great character and potential. Rewards will come if you persist. I merely hope to give people an idea what professional artists should expect for full-time work. It's fairly impossible to create artwork full-time without making a livable wage -- as it is with any type of work. Compromises can be made here and there but people require food and shelter.

"'The true nature of anything,' Aristotle says, 'is what it becomes at its highest.' Not the embryo, but the full- grown man; not any man, but man at his greatest." ~ Edith Hamilton (The Echo of Greece)
Hibiscus-Hemorrhage's avatar
Hibiscus-HemorrhageProfessional Digital Artist
This wasn't directed toward me but I happened to stumble on this journal and saw you didn't have an answer yet: "Not what we're looking for" doesn't necessarily mean they don't like your work, just that the style won't work for what they have in mind. This is especially true with comics, where the style contributes to storytelling. I've had a few clients tell me my style doesn't work for what they had in mind for a piece, and even a commissioner who tried to force me into working in a style I wasn't comfortable with under the pretense they liked my style. Ugh.

Your work seems to be high quality, but very horror-oriented. Not a bad thing, but not everyone wants to work in the horror. You draw a manga style also, if I scroll down far enough, so I know you can work in "friendlier" styles. Maybe try putting together a sheet showing many styles you can work in to broaden your audience? Additonally, many independent comic artists nowadays are looking to work digital, so it might help to show you're familiar with digital inking too. From my experience, heavily hatched styles like yours are hard to translate to a colorable form, so perhaps showing you are well-versed in digital inking would help with sales. (I don't know that you are versed, but I saw some pieces said to have been edited and colored in Krita, so presumably you own a tablet and know your way around digital art?)

Kinda long but hope it helps?
NakuNakuTenshi's avatar
NakuNakuTenshiProfessional Traditional Artist
We shall see if it help ,but thanks anyway.
bewareof713's avatar
Now please answer me for sake of not devaluing mine and others skills should I commit suicide because the wage I can get is at best 20-30 USD for inking and penciling and most of potential clients just say "it's not what we are looking for" or should I stay unemployed and starve hoping I won't die before i get decent payment?"

Now imagine you're in the same scenario but you're a writer who has to pay the artist. As a struggling artist(yes, writing is an art form), I can't afford to pay an extraordinary amount of money. Now on the other hand, if your name was popular and could sell my book by just being on there, then that's another thing but you guys are expecting hundreds of dollars from people who are starving, too. The work isn't just getting good at your craft(and you are very talented), it's doing it until you have earned recognition. Over-charging your peers is a good way for a quick buck but isn't very good for your end-game.

I guess my question is: If we're supposed to be working together and neither of us are famous then why am I working a job I hate to pay you so you don't have to?

Just something to think about.
Blueoriontiger's avatar
BlueoriontigerHobbyist Artist
I stumbled upon here because somebody on Reddit was complaining that I was "overcharging" for comic flats. Turns out I was doing about okay.

Why do you have to work a job to pay her or me so "we" don't have to?

Because it's OUR JOB to create the content. When you devalue us with our skill an education to make creative content, we'll go to who pays, and walk away to leave you to figure that out however you want. We'll go take a job we hate that'll pay double what you offer (like factory welding), because that pays the bills and puts the food on the table in a city where we actually get Internet access. When you start saying I'm broke and that we should work for cheap, it's pretty much a literal spit in our face.

I came up with the concept for a visual novel in 2011. I coded it on and off while I was at school and tried to get someone to help me do the art, because I wasn't a good artist. It didn't go well. After two artists dropped who said (one said they'd do it for free and one had a half-barter agreement) I came to the realization that I needed to "pay someone worth their salt" to get the art I needed, and it was going to be more than $200 that I could ever offer for any project.

I had to wait almost five years and work an office job I hated until I had almost $1800 to pay a proper artist to do all my character art and backgrounds. It looks professional, high grade and people liked it because it didn't look "anime". The game got Greenlit on Steam and now I can finish the process and concentrate on completing the game engine to modernize it to today's standards.

And you know what? I had problems too. My parents were in massive debt and 2/3rd of my paycheck was going to them for over two years. Up to this day I don't own a modern gaming console. I never did go to vacation anywhere on my own. But I took my money on what mattered, published a book and now will be releasing a game soon.

Would I have liked to have my game out when I was a 24 year old college kid, and not a 31 year old man? Would it have been easy to work with someone who'd do it for "free"? Would my game have even passed Greenlight if it didn't look up to polish? Would a professional artist have taken me seriously if I approached them to draw several high-grade art assets for $200?

That's something to think about.
Cra-ZShaker's avatar
Cra-ZShakerProfessional Digital Artist
Blueoriontiger's avatar
BlueoriontigerHobbyist Artist
Thanks for the support, much appreciated. :)
NakuNakuTenshi's avatar
NakuNakuTenshiProfessional Traditional Artist
How much time you need to write a script of 1 comic page? 30 minutes? 1 hour?
How much time i need to draw and ink 1 comic page? 6-9 hours at best.
I think we are clear
Zefram's avatar
ZeframProfessional Digital Artist
Very good resource. Much appreciated.
RiversReverie's avatar
RiversReverieHobbyist General Artist
Bookmarked!  A good resource, thank you for sharing!
monkeyjb1988's avatar
I'm saving this. I want to make a comic book, but I can only draw and color.
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In