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Comic Book Creators Guild Asked For Rates In 1978 That People Still Don’t Get Today

In 1978, a group of A-list comics creators calling themselves the Comic Book Creators Guild gathered together to attempt to unionize. Members of this group included Paul Levitz, Neal Adams, Jim Shooter, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Chris Claremont, and more. One of the things the group did was put together a list of recommended rates for publishers, which CosmicBookNews posted last week. The union ultimately didn’t work out, and the saddest thing is that the very reasonable rates they posted still aren’t hit today by many publishers, even adjusted for inflation.

The recommended rates also included very generous payments for foreign rights and reprints, which creators are not always paid for today. Here’s the list:

Adjusted for inflation, those rates today would be:

Artists: $1080
Writers: $360
Letterers: $144
Colorists: $252

It’s not an overstatement to say that these rates, adjusted for inflation, dwarf most creators’ rates today. There are maybe a few very, very top level creators who make similar or higher rates, but primarily only writers and artists working at top-tier publishers. In fact, there are a lot of creators in comics today who don’t even make as much as the 1978 rates quoted without adjusting for inflation. And there are a lot of creators in comics who can’t afford to make comics full time because they don’t make enough doing so.

Unfortunately the United States, where many creators hired by US publishers live, isn’t a great country when it comes to supporting creative people.

Would a union back then have helped creators today? It’s likely. Could the sales of comics today have supported these rates? Probably not. Adjusted for inflation, and on a 22-page comic, those rates equal over $40,000 per issue. There are a lot of publishers who probably dream of making that much per issue even before costs. Those rates would be a lot fairer for the creators of the 1970s and the creators of today, but it’s hard to see how those rates would work in the industry we live in today and the sales of comics today. We certainly wouldn’t be seeing any $2.99 comics. Just as when this list was drafted, it’s likely these rates will be a dream for many creators, and nothing more.

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