Comics Creators

The Artist and Writer Relationship


To give the writer’s perspective. If you want to be paid as an artist all upfront then it becomes work for hire. If Fiona Staples had taken a cheque for page rate instead of an equal share on Saga I think she would be maybe a million bucks or more down right now. We saw that with The Walking Dead where rights were given away for immediate cash payments.

Writers do tend to take the brunt of publicity duties and interviews. It’s called Millarworld because Mark has pushed that, maintained a web presence, hyped projects and the like. He shares everything 50/50 and it is easier to script a page than draw it but apart from the odd AMA presence on the marketing side he makes all the running.


I only work collaboratively, as I can’t afford to hire artists. I’m very up front about this. And if a project was picked up, the rights would be split 50/50.

As to how it works… well, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t.

A lot of projects fall apart and there isn’t anything you can do about that. You just have to pick yourself up and try again.

Trust is important, I need to trust in an artist’s ability to draw and they need to trust in my ability to write.

When things fall apart, it’s usually because the trust isn’t there.

The biggest problem I usually have is when an artist decides that I don’t know what I’m doing and tries to change my script through the artwork. I once had an artist who ‘loved’ a project but tried to remove every element of satire, despite the fact that was a major part of the book.

If a collaboration isn’t working out, it will become apparent. And if it isn’t working out, you’re best walking away and trying to find a collaborator who does trust in your ability.

It’s also important for you to both behave in a professional manner. In the instance of a writer stealing an artists work? Well, that’s something people are going to hear about. No one is going to want to work with that writer.

Likewise, if a writer is a professional, well, there are ways to tell that. Go look at what they’ve had published. Does it look professional or is it a mess? If a writer and artist aren’t working well together, you’ll be able to tell that based on what they produce.


Those are all likely trade dress for the book market like Barnes & Noble where the writer’s name would be the bigger selling point. They were likely trying to mimic the trade dress on the authors other books at the time too.

The two tier approach probably would have taken up too much space on the Identity Crisis cover. I actually have that trade dress signed as he was at the big B&N managers meeting one year and my boss snagged it for me.



Yeah, although I am not sure it was cyclical before the nineties. It was only in the eighties that people became aware that the writers’ contributions were in any way important to the books, really. And I don’t think there was a cycle before that in which the writers were favoured in comic books… as someone who always had a tendency to follow writers rather artists, I was kind of glad when the writers became equally as important as the artists in the perception of a book, I have to say.


Yes, I can see that point, although I’m not sure it entirely holds true. Stan Lee in the 60s springs to mind - in terms of a writer putting his personality all over a book (often to the detriment of his artists) - although it’s possible that he was an outlier.