Scans of original art are from the Kirby Museum's Original Art Digital Archive.
Scans of pencil art photocopies for the Kirby Museum's Pencil Art Photocopy Archive courtesy of the Kirby Family, with thanks to TwoMorrows Publishing.
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About time that lazy Tom got back on his "real" job… Posting real Kirby's work!
Hey Tom, try and guess where I'm heading for a fine dinner, next wednesday?
Wish I could have joined you. Great resto. Hope you enjoyed it!
The economy of line in Mr. Miracles face is poetry.
Since this went unused I'm sure Jack ate Mike's inking fee. Just how much did Mr. Royer get paid for his work with Jack? I'm sure he says how much in one of his interviews in JKC but I'm too lazy to look it up!
I'm sure it's not as much as you would like to think. One of the reasons they did a lot of quantity/pages fairly fast back then to make money.
Oh I know that! It's one of the reasons Jack was so fast. He had to be. Still I'm curious what the page rate was back then.
Actually, Kenny, I don't think Royer has ever mentioned, specifically, what his page rate was back then. But he has stated in a couple of interviews that it was more or less the same as what Infantino was paying Colletta -- who was reportedly doing the work for a cut rate -- before he (Royer) took over. He's also said the rate DC was paying him was "criminal", so it must have been pretty low. From what I've read, the top rate for pencillers in the early seventies was fifty to sixty dollars a page, so a top inker in those days must've been pulling in what, 35 to 40 bucks a page? If Mike was getting paid for the lettering as well, I'd bet that his rate was probably around 25 dollars a page, which would certainly qualify as a criminally low rate for both inks and letters. But of course, that's just a guestimate on my part, so if anyone else out there has some hard facts, it would be interesting to hear them.
Also, it's never been quite clear to me whether Mike was getting paid by Jack or by DC for his work. From what he's said in interviews, I get the impression that he was paid by DC for his work in the first half of the seventies (in which case Jack wouldn't have had to eat the fee for this cover) and by Jack himself for the work he did at Marvel in the latter half of the seventies. But again, that's only an educated guess on my part, and some factual confirmation one way or the other would be nice.
Mr. Royer did such fine work with his tenure on Jack's work that 25 bucks a page certainaly is criminal. But it didn't stop him from giving his very best efforts in order to create a body of stand out work. To this day I steal from stuff that Mike did on Kirby's pencils. Kudos to Mike Royer. And thanks John for the guestimates!
The other thing that's amazing about Royer's stuff is that he was usually inking three pages a day when he worked on Kirby's books! So, in addition to the lousy rate he was being paid, the fact that he could maintain such a high standard of quality while working so quickly and turning out such an enormous number of pages is, in itself, a remarkable accomplishment.
No hard fact but I kind of remember Mike Royer mentioning in an interview that he was paid something like 35 dollars for lettering and inking a page.
This was already most certainly a steal compared to the usual rate?
On his work for DC and Marvel, Royer was paid by the company, never by Kirby. He almost certainly was paid for inking this cover.
I'm not at liberty to say what these folks' page rates were then but all the above estimates are way too high.
This won't come as a surprise for fellow Wik members so I'll blame Royer's low page rate on Colletta's dumping strategy!
Thanks for clarifying those points, Mark. If my estimate of twenty-five dollars a page for both lettering and inking was way too high, it's a wonder that Royer did the work at all, let alone that he did such a great job on it! Even allowing for forty-plus years of inflation, his rate at that time must have been appalling, and it's amazing he didn't use stronger words than just "criminal" to describe it!
Via Rob Imes: In THE COMIC READER #168 (May 1979), editor Mike Tiefenbacher wrote about the difficulties that creators have earning a living in the comic book industry.
COMMENT by Mike Tiefenbacher
….Needless to say, each successive “implosion,” cutback, and report of professionals leaving the field because of their inability to make equitable wages discouraged me more [to pursue a career in comics]. A letter we received from Dan Adkins, inker for DC and Marvel recently put the capper on it.
Dan, staring at the stack of comics in his closet containing his work, decided to count them up and divide the work by year and see exactly how much he made, how much went for expenses and taxes. I think the results are revealing.
NUMBER OF COMICS WITH HIS WORK 1966-1979
1966: 10 comics
1967: 29 comics
1968: 25 comics
1969: 17 comics
1970: 17 comics
1971: 7 comics
1972: 19 comics
1973: 7 comics
1974: 18 comics
1975: 55 comics
1976: 66 comics
1977: 17 comics
1978: 17 comics
1979: 6 comics (as of March)
Total: 310 comics
This doesn't include the sixteen months as Wally Wood's assistant unless he was credited specifically (which happened three times).
Dan then broke down his output in 1975 and 1976 to give an explicit idea of how comic book earnings shape up:
1975 Copyrighted Comics
No. of comics with his work: 55
No. of comics with his inked covers: 25
No. of pages with his work: 446 pages
No. of reprinted pages with his work: 229 pages
Price per page from Marvel for inks: $22.00 per page
Price per page from Charlton for inks: $12.50 per page
Pay for reprinted pages: Nothing (1975 policy)
Gross income (before business deductions): $4,575.50
Actual net income (after deductions for art supplies, studio rent, electric, gas, phone, etc.): $1,875.00
To sum up, “I had work in 55 comics in 1975 and made less than $50.00 a week to support myself, wife and child, from free lance work. More work was reprinted of mine than bought new. No art was returned, though I doubt if Marvel had any legal right to keep the work. Printing rights were all they bought since they paid no sales tax on the items.”
1976 Copyrighted Comics
No. of comics with his work: 66
No. of comic with his inked covers: 46
No. of pages with his work: 236 pages
No. of reprinted pages: 58 pages
Price per page from Marvel for inks: $25.00 per page
Pay for reprinted pages: Nothing (1976 policy)
No. of new pages bought: 178 pages
Pay for new pages bought: $4,450.00
Also: $350.00 for cover painting
$50.00 for two corner paintings
Gross income: $4,850.00
Net income: $2,010.00
Again, summing up, “I had work in 66 comics in 1976 and I'm still not earning $50.00 from free lancing per week after business deductions. Or, to put it another way, I had work in 121 comics in two years and didn't make $10,000 even before deductions, let alone afterwards.
I know I should not be feeding the fire here; Tom said this stuff should be in a different area, but MY GOD how did these men make a living back then at those rates?!?!
SURE everything was MUCH cheaper; no $4 a gallon gas but cripes!
Amazing what they did for what they got and we are all the better for their dedication
My hat tips to ALL of them!
I suppose even Disney boned their guys back then too!
Comics publishers are notorious for some pretty lousy business practices.
They don't take care of creators. They didn't return art to artists, artwork they had no legal rights to keep for themselves. Besides stealing art, they didn't really take care of it since they routinely destroyed or gave them away.
By the way, the area Tom mentioned to you is the forum. If you wish to reach further on the subject, you can open a thread there: http://www.whatifkirby.com/forums
Here is a pay voucher from 1965 which shows Don Heck was being paid 17.50 per page by Gold Key for fully penciled and inked pages. A total of $560 for 32 pages of pencils and inks. I'm fairly sure Gold Key paid rates comparable to what Marvel was offering in 1965.
Now you see why Jack was doing 3 or 4 comics a month. Talk about your slave labor.