Folks pretty much every week reach out to me asking if they can “collaborate” with one of my 160-or-so artists from www.glasshousegraphics.com. The real answer is, of course, YES – they can hire whichever artists fit their schedule and budget, and those artists will work carefully directly with them and do a marvelous job. They can also make use of our editing, design, logo, lettering, coloring, prepress, and print broker services, as well.
But then they’ll say, “No, I mean I want to partner with them.” Great! We’ve had financial partners before, putting up funds for comics, book, even films that we’ve worked on closely with them at every step, that have offered some tail-end benefits.
“No, I mean ‘Partner’ in a more general sense.” Soon they’ll launch into an impassioned speech about how this will be the next SURE THING, it’ll earn a fortune, the movie and merchandise potential is fantastic, and so forth.
Then the light dawns, the penny drops: They want the artist to work for FREE to develop this intellectual property, in the process all-too-often forgetting the “partner” bit of the partnership and wanting the artist – who will likely spend far more time drawing and designing than the writer spent plotting and scripting – to get less than her fair share of the profits, if any.
I used to be more gentle about it, but now I just ask: “Why do you expect an artist, who works every day earning an income, to work for you for free for weeks or months making your dream come true? If she has spare time on her hands, wouldn’t it make more sense for that artist to invest that time into her own project and make her own dream come true?”
Most of the time they won’t answer that question, simply saying, “Thanks for you time” or not responding at all. Occasionally – rarely – they say, “You’re right” and come up with development money.
One thing is 100% certain: In my 36 years in the comic book business, NOT ONE of these SURE THINGS has ever become anything significant.