Cartoonists vs. Powerman and The Moneygoround


A New York Times summary of a recent Authors Guild survey regarding the income of writers these days, and finding the median is below poverty levels..

The survey showed a shift in book earnings to other writing-related activities, such as speaking engagements, book reviewing or teaching. Including those sources, respondents who identified themselves as full-time book authors still only earned a median income of $20,300, well below the federal poverty line for a family of three or more.

prompted Nate Powell to post a reasonable breakdown of a cartoonist’s income while creating a graphic novel.

Nate’s Twitter post elicited an avalanche of response from fellow creators,
many with horror stories about their careers.


One of Nate’s points was that if a cartoonists sticks with it and eventually gets five or ten books published the royalties start amounting to enough to help subsidize the next project.
Metaphrog ran a graph about that:

Metaphrog’s Twitter thread is here.


Graphic novelist Brian Fies took the Powell chart to his Facebook page with his take on the matter, noting that Nate’s numbers are from someone who “is in the top 5% of successful working graphic novelists.” Your rates very well may vary to lower numbers. As Brian mentioned:

I did “Mom’s Cancer” and “Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow” while working essentially full-time jobs (though I was freelancing by the time I did the latter). I wouldn’t be able to do it at all without [wife] Karen’s steady income and benefits.


Basically, while some do make the grade,
most are in it for the love of the medium and the need to create.