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Reactions to Village Voice non-paying issue
The comic industry is a buzz by the latest issue of The Village Voice’s Comics issue and news tucked inside the ironic article “If Cartoons Are So Big, Why Don’t They Pay?” that reported the paper commissioned cartoonists to contribute for “good exposure.”
Here is a round-up of some of the industry reaction:
I gave the Voice piece a lot of thought yesterday, and after some test conversations, I think I may be alone in suggesting that the Voice not paying many of its comics contributors in an issue in which an article about non-payment appeared isn’t as interesting an issue in and of itself — although it is a valid issue, and they deserve to be mocked for both the non-payment and for having this piece up in hilarious proximity to its own contributing practices — as it is a compelling gateway into the whole idea of free as it pertains to comics. I’m having a hard time seeing, and perhaps this is my own limited perspective on the issue, how what the Voice is doing represents a difference in kind from everything else in comics that runs on free, or a through a diminished, exploitative price, many of which things come with the same promises of exposure, experience or getting in on the ground floor. It’s a difference in degree, sure, when someone like the Voice does it, and represents an extra dollop of gross as a result, but I’m not sure the basic issues aren’t roughly the same, and I wonder if the one thing that we can all do to combat this kind of thing is to make asking people to work for free unacceptable in comics culture on every level except for charity. Somewhere out there someone just may have written about this article and the nonpayment issue for someone who will get paid for hosting that piece while that person does not get paid for writing it — if that didn’t happen, it’s an accident of coverage.
Tom references Mimi Ponds who’s post on Facebook was captured by Drawn And Quarterly before it was removed.
Village Voice, you have some nerve printing this story after you asked me and god knows how many other cartoonists to contribute free work for this issue – with the stipulation that it would be “good exposure” for me. You can go f*** yourself! You used to pay me decent money back in the 80s to do full-page cartoons for Mary Peacock’s V section. The 80s were very very good to me. I had a real career as a full-time cartoonist and illustrator. I stopped for a minute to have children and then when I looked up again, my career had fallen off a cliff. So thanks, Village Voice. Thanks a lot.
Remember this, artists: Free work for yourself is good. Free work for exposure often leads to dying of exposure.
Kris Straub on Twitter:
comics pay. at least the ones who turn down the village voice and anyone else offering “exposure”