Participants in Comic Book Creation

Part two of the Gabillet text focuses on the participants of comic book culture. The different aspects are identified and discussed in each chapter, and there are several different participants which contribute to comic book culture. This is interesting because the participants have many parallels with other forms of popular culture, such as having producers, creators, and consumers. It would be very difficult to identify any form of popular culture which is missing one of these key aspects (if you have a suggestion, please comment!). These aspects are seen in other forms of popular culture such as movies, books, and art. Chapter ten discussed the production aspect, and chapter eleven discussed the business aspect. The reading for this week, which is chapter twelve, discusses the aspects of the creators of comics.

Chapter twelve is particularly interesting because of the aspect of the creators. From the class discussions it seems that the creation of comic books usually involves many different individuals that are considered the creators, who have specialized skills, and there are rarely individuals who have all the skills. It has been discussed many times in class about the hierarchy of comics in culture, as determined by prestige or money. But is there a hierarchy within comic book culture as well?

Comic book creation seems to involve many different skill sets which often require specialization in certain talents. These talents are things that are integral to creating a comic, which are writing, illustration, colouring, inking, and etc. Are certain talents more important to the creation of comic books than others? Would it possible it to arrange these positions in a hierarchy, perhaps characterized by money or prestige? Or should all talents which are integral to the creation of comics be considered equal? In comparison to other forms of popular culture such as novels, it seems like comic books are much more complicated in their creation.

From class discussions it seems like the hierarchy in comic book creation has shifted and writers seem to be on top of the food chain in comic book creation. This is demonstrated by the credit given to Neil Gaiman on the covers of Sandman, or the disproportionate amount of credit given to Stan Lee.

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2 Responses to Participants in Comic Book Creation

  1. baileypowell says:

    You said it might be possible to create a hierarchy on the basis of money — I think this is something which is super interesting. We talked in class yesterday about how money is divided up between retailers, distributors, etc., and noted that only 11% of the profits goes to the creative team (which they must share with publishers and advertisers). I’d be interested to know how this money is divided up among the creative team.. For instance, on ‘Sandman’, how much money did Gaiman take away as compared to Kelley Jones or even the “lower level” artists (inkers, colorers)? I tried looking it up, but this kind of information is probably not something disclosed to the public. Neil Gaiman’s net worth is estimated at $18 million – but keeping in mind that he’s worked on many other titles, this really doesn’t tell us too much. It’s made me really curious how this money is divided up among any creative team on a popular comic. If anyone knows, let us know!

  2. jessicaskillen says:

    I definitely agree with you that there is a hierarchy present within the comic book industry based on the different roles in the creation of a comic book. As said in class yesterday, while the artists and writers often receive the most generous pay, other jobs such as colorist and letterer receive significantly less. While this may not seem fair as each of the positions plays an important role in the creation of the comic book, it is probable that they feel that the work of the colorist or letterer could be more easily replaced than the writer or artist, without dramatically changing the book. A similar hierarchy is present in other industries as well, such as film and music production. A few positions receive a major portion of the profit, while others who play an equally significant role receive far less money for their work.

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