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Rough Numbers

Today on the site we have Rob Clough’s extensive interview with cartoonist and Oily Comics publisher Charles Forsman, focusing mainly on his publishing experiences, and including a lot of surprisingly frank talk on money:

How much do you make, in both of terms gross and net, from Oily during a month from subscriptions and/or online purchases alone? How much do you make per show? How much of this gets back to the artists? In general terms, do you make enough money from Oily to partly support yourself, or does the money simply get channeled back into publishing to keep it afloat?

So I can give some very rough numbers. I think my gross is probably somewhere between $1200-$1500 per month. Take out about $500 for printing, shipping, and royalties, and I think I am left with 700 to 1000 dollars. This seems high to me as I say this. And to be honest I am a little embarrassed. It just seems weird to be making any money off of mini comics. But I have to remind myself of how much work I am putting in. If I wasn’t doing this I would be working a job making the same amount of money and Oily wouldn’t exist. This money basically helps me eat and put gas in the car. Oh, and go to the movies. Melissa and I are young and live as cheaply as we can. I feel really blessed at my current status and I do my best never to take it for granted.

I pay the artists in copies of the comics that they can sell for themselves and a 10% royalty on every copy I sell of their book. When I started I was paying a quarter to the artists, but I quickly figured out that wouldn’t work in the long run. Ten percent is pretty comparable to what most publishers pay their authors in royalties. It’s pretty funny that even at such a small scale I found that number to work. I wish I could pay them more. What publisher doesn’t want that, though? I think most of them are pretty surprised that I am paying them anything. It’s not a ton of money, but it is something. I hope to figure out a way to pay them more in the future.

Elsewhere on the internet:

—Several interviews for you, including Ron Regé at Expanding Mind, Joe Sacco at the Comics Reporter, Dan Slott at the Village Voice, Jay Kinney at Print (complete with a ton of illustrations), and Arthur Jones at Study Group Comics.

—Jeff Trexler susses out some of the meaning behind last week’s Superman legal rulings.

—Chris Mautner picks out six “criminally ignored comics” from last year, and I agree with most of them. (Though I do feel obliged to point out that the review we ran of the Burroughs Ah Pook books, by Rudy Rucker of all people, was criminally ignored itself, at least within comics circles.) The really sad thing is that Chris’s list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many noteworthy comics being released these days. We hope to continue improving in our coverage of them.

—Anders Nilsen has a new short comic online which is getting a lot of deserved attention.

—The World Socialist Web reviews a bunch of contemporary superhero comics, from an unsurprisingly political angle.

—Sean Kleefeld has interesting commentary regarding the recent announcement of Jennifer Holm to the CBLDF’s board last week.

—Here’s a spot for my periodic reminder that if you are a fan of the aforementioned Rob Clough’s work, he has a ton more of it on his own site. Today that includes notices of three new autobio minicomics, from MariNaomi, Whitney Taylor, and Margo Dabaie.

—Domingos Isabelinho reviews Fred’s Le Petite Cirque, and one of the great literary bloggers, M.A. Orthofer (who is more or less comics-averse), reviews the new edition of Osamu Tezuka’s Message to Adolf.


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