Comic Book Production: The Illusion of More
Sometimes people ask me why I don’t do more comics, except I really do more comics than you think. I just don’t do many monthly comics. A graphic novel of 200 pages is the rough equivalent of 9 issues of a comic. So if I do one graphic novel a year, it’s as if I’m doing nine comics a year. It’s the exact same amount of labor.
Also, a painted comic, which is what I am doing on the upcoming Neil Gaiman project, is about 3-4 times the amount of labor of a monthly comic. Even if it’s only 60 pages, it’s still the labor equivalent of about 9-11 issues of a monthly book, depending on complexity.
So I’m not producing many serialized comics, but I’m doing as much work as people who do.
Another comparison: lots of people compliment web cartoonists for their regular rate of production, but many are doing strips of three panels per episode, or producing perhaps three pages of comic art a week. It seems like a lot because you get it regularly. But it’s really not very fast. At only 3 pages a week, you’re not producing enough work to create a monthly book. You’re only doing about 13.5 pages a month, nearly ten pages under what you need to be doing to make a monthly print comic schedule.
This is not a knock on webcomics, BTW, it’s an observation that they can produce an effective illusion of more.
Rate of production is often illusory: just because you see an artist producing regularly, that does not mean they actually labor more or produce more work in the aggregate. So just because I only produce about 1 graphic novel and some side projects a year, that does not mean I am doing less comics than other people.
From my upcoming project with Neil Gaiman.