Creator Resource has put together a guide to the comic publishers in the industry, focusing on the bare minimum of what to expect from each. We’ve divided the publishers into a few different categories, including Work-for-Hire (aka WFH), Creator-Owned / Indie, Small Press Publishers, and Webcomics. They are sorted alphabetically and publishers may appear under more than one category for their respective.
This isn’t a super in-depth look at each publisher and should serve only as a reference point as each creator’s experience, contract, and situation can be extremely different and varied depending on who you are and what the project is. None of this should replace feedback or expertise that you may receive from an agent or lawyer and can only serve as a resource to help educate creators on what to expect.
Each entry will vary in detail as we’re working with different levels of intel from a wide variety of sources. If you have additional information to share that can help us provide better information, please feel free to utilize this form or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Archie Comics – Archie Comics has been around for ages now and originally did digests, but now has expanded and also does comics, graphic novels, and more. They function on a work-for-hire basis and offer page rates for their creators and it’s unknown to us if they offer royalties or anything else.
- Boom! Studios – A publisher with a few imprints and specializes in comics and graphic novels. We don’t have an up to date idea of what their page rates and royalties look like for licensed properties at this time.
SEE ALSO UNDER CREATOR-OWNED / INDIE
- Chapterhouse Comics/Lev Gleason Comics – Is a Canadian comic book publisher that puts out new stories featuring classic Canadian characters. The work there is work-for-hire, they retain 100% of the rights to anything you work on, and they pay in CAD. No royalties are offered or any additional back-end payments.
NOTE: Have been called out previously for not making payments to their creators on time. We have continued to hear stories of creators being owed payments and/or not being paid on time.
- DC – One of the Big Two in the comics industry known for its work-for-hire projects. They’ve recently expanded into the middle-grade and YA graphic novel market as well as to WEBTOON, but even on these books with original characters you are giving DC all the rights. They’re on the higher end of page rates scale for the industry, but tends to be a little all over the map based on the creator.
- IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher of comic books, graphic novels, art books, and comic strip collections. While they have a number of licensed and work-for-hire projects, they also take on creator-owned works as well. For licensed work-for-hire projects creators sometimes receive royalties, but not always (it depends on the project).
SEE ALSO UNDER CREATOR-OWNED / INDIE
- Marvel – Marvel is one of the Big Two in comics known for its work-for-hire projects on big name characters. Page rates are relatively high for the industry (although they tend to be all over the place based on the creator), and offering royalties to creators is standard. However, the royalties have been known on occasion to not be paid out at all, so trying to keep in mind when you’ve hit your royalty threshold is important. Additionally, many creators’ works have gone on to be the basis for films in their billion-dollar MCU and are offered additional money for direct contributions. Typically it’s on the larger scale of things, but we’ve heard that this is sometimes negotiable if you have someone in your corner to fight for you.
- Titan Comics – An UK based publisher of comics, graphic novels, fiction, and licensed works. Titan is a work-for-hire publisher with rates for scripts starting at $50/page, and they do not offer royalties to their creators.
- TKO Studios – A newer comics publisher that releases all the issues of their books at once in single-issue collectible editions or in collected trade paperbacks. They keep 100% of the rights to any project you work on with them, but will pay competitive rates with Marvel/DC. This might be worth it for the project ideas that they provide to you (they provide potential creators with a list of ideas to develop) but probably not a worthwhile investment for any properties you’ve developed on your own as you’d be signing away your ownership of it.
NOTE: While they obviously do publish comics and have an interest in telling stories in the medium, they retain the rights as they work essentially as an IP farm to adapt their titles across to movies and television.
Additional work-for-hire comic publishers that we do not currently have info on include:
- 2000AD – A British publisher that releases a weekly sci-fi comics magazine.
- Aspen Comics – A publisher that produces comics and figurines.
- Dark Horse – A comics publisher with a mix of licensed work-for-hire properties as well as a creator-owned line.
- Dynamite Comics – A publisher that deals mostly in licensed comics on a work-for-hire basis.
NOTE: Has been called out several times for openly affiliating themselves with known hate group members and continually giving them work.
- Mad Cave Studios – An indie publisher of comics and trade paperbacks that brings on creators in a work-for-hire capacity.
- Top Cow – An imprint of Image Comics that is primarily work-for-hire with their properties.
- Valiant Comics – A comics publisher that has their own superhero line and shared universe. They do comics, digital series, and produce films based on their properties.
- Zenescope – A comics publisher with a focus on reinvented fairy-tales for adults, fantasy, and horror.
CREATOR-OWNED / INDIE:
- Black Mask Studios – A comic book publisher that’s a subsidiary of Epitaph Records. They offer creators 100% ownership of the IP but ask for 50% of the media rights. They split any profits from the book 50/50 with the creators, and while they do offer upfront page rates, those are in exchange for a smaller return on the back-end.
NOTE: Have been called out previously for not making payments to their creators on time.
- Boom! Studios – A publisher with a few imprints and specializes in comics and graphic novels. We don’t have an up-to-date idea of what their page rates and royalties look like. However, while page rate surveys in the past have dinged Boom! more than a few times for predatory behaviour, we have heard that for some of their imprints and creator-owned properties they are paying more competitively.
- Dark Horse – Dark Horse does a lot of licensed and work-for-hire projects, but in the last few years, they’ve begun expanding their roster of creator-owned works. You receive 100% ownership and all the back-end profits for single issues (to be split between the creators). For collected editions, 60% of the back-end profits go to the creators, while Dark Horse takes a 40% split.
- First Second – First Second is a graphic novel publisher for all-ages and genres. We don’t have a lot of information regarding their back-end, but have been told that First Second does not pay based on page rates. Rather, they pay based on the number of units they believe will sell, the length of the book does not factor in. There is therefore quite a variation in the rates that you may see from creators.
- IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher of comic books, graphic novels, art books, and comic strip collections. While they have a number of licensed and work-for-hire projects, they also take on creator-owned works as well. For the creator-owned side of things they retain 50% of the IP, and while they do not offer an advance or page rate up front the creator will receive a 50/50 split of the profits.
- Image Comics – Is probably the most well-known creator-owned publisher in modern comics. The main imprint is 100% creator-owned, with profits from single issues (minus production costs) going to the creators. They do, however, take a cut of the profits off any other trade edition that may be released. For the majority of creators no page rates are offered upfront, however, if they believe your book has potential to sell exceptions are sometimes made but it works like an advance where whatever you are paid upfront is taken back from the sales of the book and no additional money can be made until their money has been returned.NOTE: Contracts and ownership deals are setup between creators. While Image is a publisher, they do not regulate the contracts between creators so there can be quite a variation in ownership deals, so even when setting up contracts with your peers, still always have a lawyer or agent look over what you’re signing.
- Oni Press – A comic book publisher that has been around for quite some time. They offer creators 50% ownership of their IP (except on licensed work) and a $150/page rate to be split between all the creators of the book.
- Papercutz – A smaller graphic novel publisher that offers very low upfront advances ($2000 per team) and larger royalty rates: 20% royalty off wholesale up to 5000 copies, 22% from 5000 to 10,000, 25% beyond, 40% on e-book sales 50% on foreign rights sales and all other adaptations in other media.
- Scout Comics – A smaller comics publisher that also has a subscription box available with their series’. They’re 100% creator-owned, and split sales with creative teams 50/50, as well as take a slice of media deals (if they are the ones to negotiate the deal). If they do negotiate a deal, the slice is about 15-20%. While they are a comics publisher, they’re also very dialed into the TV/movie world and have an aim to adapt a lot of their properties. No advances or page rates – any money earned comes from whatever sales your book makes.
NOTE: Some creators take their books to Kickstarter to handle the initial funding (ie. for the creative team), and once it’s a success, Scout Comics takes over the production of the book from there.
- Skybound – An imprint of Image Comics run by Robert Kirkman. Books here are not “true” creator-owned books as the ownership split is usually 50/50 between the writer and Skybound. The artist gets paid Marvel/DC rates and is brought on in a WFH capacity. The artist is sometimes cut in on the ownership, but it’s part of the 50% – Skybound always takes their 50% cut. The deal is apparently negotiable.
- WildStar Press – A new small indie publisher that offers 100% ownership of your IP with a 45% share of the sales. They offer no advance or page rates but have plans to incorporate advances once they’re more established and capable.
Additional creator-owned and indie comic publishers that we do not currently have info on include:
- Action Lab – A comics publisher that features a wide variety of books for different age groups and across genres.
NOTE: While we don’t have specifics on their rates, royalties, and practices, they’ve been dinged quite a few times on past surveys for predatory behaviour, including their rates, their contracts, and their overall practices. Be sure to have an agent or lawyer look over all your contract information before signing anything.
- AfterShock Comics – A comics publisher that describes itself as a “hybrid comic book company combining the creative edge of an independent comic book publisher with the strengths and experience of a traditional powerhouse.”
- AWA Comics – AWA stands for Artists Writers & Artisans. They are a creative business owned and operated by creators. They say that they offer the best deals for creators and the best purchasing terms for comic retailers.
- ComiXology Originals – A digital-only comics publisher that is owned by Amazon. They acquire and publish books on their platform, and additionally work out rights with the creators to print books outside comiXology in collected formats.
- Heavy Metal – A sci-fi and fantasy magazine that additionally publishes comics in the same genres.
- Humanoids – A publisher of graphic novels, known for its oversized editions. They also publish middle-grade and YA graphic novels and have a varied number of titles.
- Lion Forge – A comics and graphic novel publisher owned by Oni Press, bought in a controversial acquisition in 2019. Their focus includes diverse creators and stories.
- Myriad – An imprint of Vault Comics dedicated to publishing YA comics.
- Nobrow Press – A comics publisher with a focus on more indie titles and creators known for creating very beautiful books. They additionally have Flying Eye Books for their children’s books and Imprint 27 for their literary list.
NOTE: Have been called out for predatory contracts, so make sure to have an agent or lawyer look over things before you sign anything.
- Shadowline – An imprint of Image Comics headed up by Jim Valentino.
- Top Shelf – A comics and graphic novel publisher that was bought and is now owned by IDW Publishing.
- Vault Comics – A publisher that specializes in sci-fi and fantasy comics.
NOTE: Have previously been called out for very slow payments to their creators.
- Wonderbound Comics – An imprint of Vault Comics dedicated to publishing middle-grade comics.
SMALL PRESS PUBLISHERS:
- Cloudscape Comics – Small press publisher that typically puts out anthologies and funds projects via Kickstarter. They pay $75/page to be divided amongst each creative team (and offer higher page rates based on the success of their crowdfunding campaigns) and keeps 25% of the profits from selling the ebook, while 75% is divided among all contributors. Each contributor receives one physical copy of the completed book as well as a copy of the eBook.
- TO Comix – Small press publisher that typically puts out anthologies and funds projects via Kickstarter. They pay a page rate to each individual creator on the team in CAD (writers – $11/page, artists $25/page, and colourists $15/page) and provide each person with 10 comp copies of the completed book with a possibility to receive more for hitting their deadline early. They offer a complete and transparent look at all their finances on their website (under the Articles tab.)
Additional small press comic publishers that we do not currently have info on include:
- Avery Hill – A publisher based out of London that aims to represent less-mainstream creators and their works.
- Conundrum Press – A Canadian graphic novel publisher.
- Iron Circus Comics – A comics publisher with a focus on anthologies, graphic novels, erotica, and collected online comics. Many of their works are funded via very successful Kickstarter campaigns.
- Power & Magic Press – A comics publisher that is known for their anthologies. They produce comics with a focus on “economic empowerment of queer creators, creators of color, and creators at the intersections.”
- Renegade Arts Entertainment – A Canadian publisher that produces comic books, audiobooks, movies, animation, and novels.
- Shortbox – They are a comics publisher that does a quarterly, independent comics box featuring their new titles. Titles are available individually, but their bread and butter is the box of collected comics.
COMIC STRIP PUBLISHERS:
- King Comics – They are a distributor of comics, columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles and games. For the comics side of things, they do creator-owned comics as well as have limited work-for-hire projects. On the work-for-hire side, base rates are $50 for a single panel and $75 for a single daily comic strip (equal to approximately $300/page in terms of format size and inclusive or writing/line art/lettering.) Cartoonists are responsible for colouring Sunday comics and political cartoons but not daily comics. On the creator-owned side, they have a revenue share model, sometimes with a minimum guarantee (depending on the distribution method). Political cartoons are creator-owned but have a minimum rate of $50 per cartoon with no revenue share.
- The Nib – The Nib is an online daily comics publication focused on political cartoons, graphic journalism, essays and memoir about current affairs.
- Capstone Publishing – A book publisher that acquires a wide variety of content across different mediums from picture books, interactive books, and of course, graphic novels. They bring on creators on a work-for-hire basis and provide a modest advance (equaling to approximately $70/page for a script) but offer no royalties.
Additional book publishers and imprints that we do not currently have info on include:
- Amulet Books – A graphic novel imprint of Abrams.
- Etch – A graphic novel imprint of Clarion/Harper Collins (formerly HMH Kids) that publishes graphic novels for middle-grade and young adults.
- Graphix – A graphic novel imprint of Scholastic Books.
- Harper Alley – A graphic novel imprint of HarperCollins.
- Insight Comics – A publisher that acquires graphic novels, licensed properties (film, TV, music), and more. It is distributed through Simon & Schuster.
- Little Bee Books – A publisher of children’s books and graphic novels. Currently partnered with Archie Comics on their graphic novel line for middle-grade and young adult readers.
- Random House Graphic – An imprint of Random House Children’s Book, and headed up by the well-known and respected Gina Gagliano.
- Razorbill – A graphic novel imprint of Penguin.
- Simon & Schuster – One of the Big Five of book publishing and has a line of graphic novels, not currently collected under a separate imprint.
- Hiveworks – A creator-owned comics and graphic novel publisher with a focus on free-to-read webcomics. Creators retain 100% ownership of their IP and can be paid $100/month for their ongoing comics.
- WEBTOON Originals – While WEBTOONS is a platform where any creator can upload their own works and grow an audience organically, WEBTOON Originals are comics that have been acquired by the company to be created exclusively for the platform. While we don’t have a lot of back-end information on their revenue share model or how that works, page rates are around $140/page.
- Tapas – Similar to WEBTOONS, Tapas is a platform where creators can upload their own works and grow an audience organically. Tapas has also launched their own Originals line where they acquire comics and hire creators to exclusively create content for them.
If a company doesn’t list a specific page rate or if they offer royalties or any other financial benefits, it doesn’t mean that the company doesn’t at all, we’re once again working off of information provided to us and will expand on these lists as (and if) we receive further details.
As mentioned in our intro, if you have additional information to share that can help us provide better information, please feel free to utilize this form or reach out to us at email@example.com. Everything shared will remain completely anonymous, and sources will not be divulged.
- Creator Resource Page Rates Survey – 2017
- LiteBox’s Rate Finder
- Hannah Berry’s UK Comics Creator Survey
- Sasha Bassett’s Comic Workforce Study 2019
UPDATED ON SEPT 1, 2021 to adjust minor publisher information and add additional companies to the list.