Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stripping for Cash

Gurri on Watterson on the comics industry.


Tis this: struggling artists are chicken-winged by syndicates (how did I never notice the sinister undertones of this word before?) into signing away a lot of creative control. In exchange, they get to make a living doing something they love. The alternative is (these days, anyway) webcomics.

I'm friends with a guy who does similar work (I won't reveal his identity) and he tells me that most creatives, be it in games, comics, comic strips, whatever, are in it for the love of the art. The labor market is way over-saturated. The guys producing cover art for whatever Dungeons and Dragons copycat game you enjoy are making but a small fraction of the minimum wage if you count labor by the hour.

And webcomics? I have a hunch Weinersmith drops by here once in a while, and he's top-tier. Despite that, I still bet that he won't be retiring to the Bahamas next year, even if his work is utterly brilliant. Would you say that's accurate, Z?

So where's all the public outrage? Why aren't folks flooding the streets with pamphlets decrying the cruel exploitation of art workers? Why is this instance of non-EE so non-rageworthy?

A few possibilities:

  • folks don't retain much pity for people with natural talent
  • the actual BATNA is to work a 9-to-5, giving up the dream entirely
  • artists obtain unusual status: some of them are well known for having access to mating opportunities in excess proportion to their income or physical appearance (I think this is mostly musicians and actors, but perhaps the same moral intuitions apply)
  • selling out is still pretty good: look at what Breathed did with the Sunday pages, and consider that if you're a great, your work will survive long after your bones are dust
  • ordinary people don't know about the plight of the struggling artist, or they believe that the struggle is part of the art and without it, all that's left is artifice
I don't know how many, if any, of these are accurate, but it does seem interesting that when people aim to portray the struggle of the working class, they talk about single mothers far more frequently than some dude hunched over an easel.

I too look forward to the forthcoming documentary. I'm a lifelong comics fan myself.

1 comment:

  1. Gold is the critical asset. It's the purest type of money, and the most time-tested, most long-lasting wealth-saving investment in the world.


Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?