Apr 6th 2011 By: Andy Khouri
In anticipation of this weekend's MoCCA Festival
, The Village Voice
published its Cartoon Issue, featuring an exhaustive and fascinating article
on the grim financial realities of cartoonists. Among the many depressing facts reported were that Fantagraphics makes only $6 million in sales a year; the Diamond Comic Distributor's total sales figures for 2009 were only $428 million; and that The Village Voice itself doesn't pay many cartoonists
whose work it publishes.
The four-page Village Voice
piece by Roy Edroso is well worth reading and features remarks from a number of prominent sources including Brendan Burford, Ted Rall and Gary Groth, who confirms that the first printing of a Jim Woodring book will sell only 10,000 copies despite that artist's prominence.
But in discussing the continuing struggle of cartoonists, Tom Tomorrow
creator Dan Perkins remarked, "I'm not sure how much you'll be allowed to write about this but of course the Village Voice Media chain is one of the major culprits in this-their decision to 'suspend' cartoons [in 15 papers in 2009] dealt a serious blow to the struggling subgenre of alt-weekly cartoons."
In brackets, The Village Voice
indicated that Perkins' Tom Tomorrow
returned to the paper, but added that many of the artists featured in that particular issue -- the Cartoon Issue -- were not paid for their work and were contributing "for the exposure."
The irony of the situation is bitter, and has of course been the subject of many online condemnations, jokes and other pontifications. The most succinct may be that of R. Stevens, cartoonist of Diesel Sweeties
, who Tweeted
, "Remember this, artists: Free work for yourself is good. Free work for exposure often leads to dying of exposure."
[Via The Beat