Friends With Boys - Page 175

So today I’m going to talk a bit about how Drawing Comics is my Job, the Financial End of Things. I was going to include stuff about all the hours I work to make comics, but this post got very long, so I’ll make that post at another date.

First of all, never in a million years did I think I would be able to pay my rent by drawing comics, or even through doing the freelance art thing. Sometime I cringe inwardly when I tell people that I write and draw comics for a living, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like that; it’s more like I’ve taken a vacation from some real job to draw comics, and eventually I will return to the workforce when I run out of money.

The last time I worked in a studio at a “real job” (I trained in animation) was 2008. So as of now, the money has yet to run out. The pessimist in me suspects it will some day. That I will no longer get freelance work, that my books will not sell, and I’ll just grind through my savings before packing it all in and (if I’m even qualified to do this) return to work in animation.

Part of the reason for this pessimistic view is that currently I’m living off advances from publishers, and supplementing that money with grants and freelance work (taking illustration jobs for clients, doing the occasional workshop, drawing commissions, etc). I do not have a hit graphic novel that I recieve a steady royalty income from. Not yet, at least. I suspect I would feel more secure in my line of work if I did.

So, to explain my situation: as of now, I’ve either sold or been a part of four graphic novels bought by publishers that provide advances (Brain Camp, Friends With Boys, my current book Voted Most Likely and Bigfoot Boy). An advance is money paid out to a writer and artist (or cartoonist) by the publisher against future sales of their book. So take Friends With Boys. First Second paid me X amount of dollars to write and draw it, because they think it will make XX in sales (God willing, it will make XXX. Please pre-order!). It seems like kind of a gamble, but that’s apparently how it works in the book world. The thing about advances is that you usually (this depends on the publisher) get paid half on signing of the book contract, half on completion of the book. And then you have to go draw the comic. So I got paid half of X for Friends With Boys before I’d even drawn a page, but then I had to live on half of X for a year while I drew the comic. Then I got the rest of X. And I went SHOPPING! (Just kidding.)

I am EXTREMELY LUCKY to be working with publishers that pay advances. It is not typical. It is ESPECIALLY not typical of comic book work. I was paid no money up front for my SLG books, and instead paid royalties based on sales.  Zombies Calling and Ellesmere sold about 2,000 copies each, of which I was given a percentage of the cover price, I think 7%. So I make 7% of $10 and $13. I did not make much money off those two books, which was why I had a job in animation when I drew them. ;)

My income fluxes like crazy, and has since I stopped working fulltime in animation. For example, in 2010 I had my best year ever, actually making a really good income, above $30,000! I was pretty blown away. But in 2010 I also got an $8,000 grant from the Nova Scotia government to write and draw Friends With Boys. So in reality I only made about $22,000. But that was still a ton of money! I had a lot of unexpected freelance jobs in 2010, like Girl Comics for Marvel and an illustration job for the Girl Scouts of America which paid very well. These were one time only jobs and I have not had repeat work from these clients.

In 2011 I made about half what I made in 2010.

How do I survive?

First of all, let me say that I feel I am poor, but not deprived. There are things I wish I had (like a house), but I don’t feel like I’m staring into the financial abyss. I live in a decent apartment in a decent part of a small city (Halifax). I like buying things like comics and sushi. I have a car. But there are choices I make that allow me to live cheaply. I do not buy new clothes. I rarely go to the movies. As much as I like buying comics, I voraciously use the library to read everything I might want to only read once. I do not have a cellphone (shock, horror!). I know, so behind the times. But I work at home, and a home phone is cheaper. I split my rent and expenses with my boyfriend, and before we moved in together, I lived with a roommate. I cook at home a lot, which is much cheaper than dining out. We do not have cable. My car is 10 years old, and I bought it outright used, so I didn’t pay interest on car payments. Spending over $20 is a big deal.

I also live in a country that provides some health care. I feel this is probably the biggest reason I am able to work in comics for a living. Canada’s health care system is not what it once was, but it is there, and I know that if I break a leg or need surgery, I will not be financially ruined.

Sometimes the being poor thing sucks. I wore a coat I got at a Salvation Army for $9 for two winters, and it was terrible. I bought a new winter coat this year, paid for with money I made at a convention. It is very nice and warm.

I get asked about transitioning into comics or freelance art, how to do it, and how to make it financially viable. Here’s how I did it: I didn’t.

In 2008 I lost my job in animation. Animation in Canada is contract based and when contracts end and there are no incoming contracts, everyone loses their job. If you’re lucky, you’ve been paying into Employment Insurance, so you can weather these hard times. In 2008, I was lucky. The studio I was working at was expecting work to come in, but it didn’t, and it didn’t and months passed as we waited. For an entire year I lived on EI, waiting for work. It didn’t come. But then First Second came along and asked me to draw Brain Camp. Since there was no animation work, I jumped at the chance. I told my old studio that I was drawing a comic, and that I wouldn’t be available for a few months, and then I’d come back to work when they had work. They still didn’t have work by the time I finished Brain Camp. And by then, Friends With Boys had sold to First Second, and I had another chunk of money to live on (the advance of half of X, if you remember). So I kept drawing comics, because the money hadn’t run out yet.

Eventually, the studio got work in, thank goodness. My boyfriend works there. But I never went back, because I kept getting comic jobs. And by then I was getting good at living cheaply (no eating out more than once a week, no new clothes, living with a roommate), and thought I could make a go of it, at least for a year or so. Drawing comics full time was kind of a dare: how long could I go? How long could I draw comics and pay my rent?

It is now four years later. I’ve been drawing comics as a job for as long as I was in animation.

There are a couple factors here, the most important being that I had EI to live on during that long dry spell. If I hadn’t had that safety net, I would’ve been forced to move away from Halifax and find animation work elsewhere. But I didn’t have to move, because I could live on what EI was paying. Also, because the studio where I used to work continued to not have work, it gave me the chance to try out drawing comics for a living, and see if I could make it work. So far, I have. And I’m very grateful and very nervous it will all be taken away from me someday.

I was watching a panel at the New York Comic Con in 2010, and the question of “how do you move into comics fulltime?” was asked. I think there were 5 people on the panel, and two said they had spouses who agreed to support them while they tried to make a go of it, one had a business that he sold to make a large chunk of cash, one was Raina Telgemeier and I completely forget what she said, and one still hadn’t transitioned into making comics fulltime.

I feel this post is probably not very helpful. I can’t offer concrete tips on transitioning into comics fulltime. I do suggest looking up grants, as getting that grant in 2010 was incredible. I also suggest building a savings so if you are laid off or choose to take a break from your day job, you can maybe spend a month or two working fulltime on your own comics, without having to worry about paying rent. I can really only speak to my own experiences with making comics for a living, so hopefully they will provide some insight.


71 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    Hey there! This isn’t a comment on today’s strip, but I’m finally reading it at a decent hour when I can remember to leave a comment. (I usually check it out on my phone on the bus, and that’s not exactly conducive to commenting).

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I adore this comic to bits and bits and make sure to recommend it to anyone who likes webcomics that will listen to me. I love the expressions and body language most of all, though I have an equal amount of love for the realism and the pacing throughout. I look forward to it every morning, and while I’m sad that it will have to come to an end, I’m really excited to see how everything will pan out. :)

    (Also really glad to see another Canadian comic artist out there! Whoo!)

  2. In some ways, this is one of the scariest things I’ve read in a long time.

    Now I’m a writer and not an artist. I do write comics (for print and online), and I’ve gotten a few one-time gigs here and there (two things for DC), and I just wrapped up my first multi-issue arc on a comic book ever. I’m also a full-time bartender.

    I’ve recently gotten into writing animation, which pays better than most of the comic book work I’ve done.

    I say all this to say this: your blog scares me because I want to start making children with my fiancee soon, and I’m hoping that writing will pay the bills. I think you are AMAZINGLY talented, and if you’re not making the kind of cash I want to be making, it feels like I almost never will.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably a lot more willing to sell out than you are (being an American and all…) (that was a joke), but still. Learning to live frugally is still a work in progress for me.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yeah. I really don’t know how anyone could make this art lifestyle work with a family. But having a family has never been a priority for me, so I’m not really looking to make that work. I’ve seen other people do it, although most of them seem to have a 2nd income to supplement the art income.

      Learning to live frugally is a big deal. I learned when I was on EI and my income was cut in half (EI is 55% of your regular income). I think it’s a matter of separating wants from needs. I think our society makes it very hard to do so, since we live in a consumer society, but if you focus on making your art a fulltime job (if it is your dream), it becomes a little easier to do so.

    • Houston says:

      Hi Justin,

      Sorry to kind of butt in, but even though I have a full time job, my advice about kids is to go for it. You will never feel secure enough, rich enough, mature enough, etc…

      You get by now and when you have kids, you will adjust and get by then. Some things are easier than others, but all in all you will find a way.

      My two cents and best wishes to you.

  3. corvideye says:

    I really appreciate that you are willing to talk about this so frankly; not many people are, and it is hard to get a realistic view of how creative people actually survive. (A lot of people I initially thought were making their full living with their art turned out to have that spouse with steady job. Which is great for them, but not an option for me.) Your economics sound very much like mine, and that of most of my friends (except we’re in the US so no health care :P). The sacrifices can certainly be frustrating and at times scary (no leeway if some major disaster strikes). But I know that I choose to be a starving artist; I could have made different choices for different priorities. I went with finding a decent part-time job that leaves me enough energy/time to still do some creative stuff. I prefer this to making more money and having no energy/time, or going completely freelance and living in frequent uncertainty. I think it’s really impressive that you’ve made this transition and have made it work this long! And given your obvious talent and skill, I bet you will continue to make it work.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Thanks! I certainly feel this lifestyle is viable and possible, but maybe you need to get into it at a certain point in your life. Once you’re in, it’s fairly easy to maintain. Live cheaply, live on a budget, make your priorities … but times do change, as do priorities. Which is why I see artists going and getting “real jobs” when they decide they want a family and maybe a little financial security. I don’t think I would’ve been able to transition into this life if I hadn’t been pushed by the loss of my job.

  4. Kat says:

    You say in your last paragraph that you don’t think the post is very helpful, but as someone else who does freelance creative work (in a completely different field) and relies on my clients waking up each day deciding they still want to use my services, I can say that it is helpful, because it is the truth. It’s about the decisions you make, and being aware of your safety nets and contingency plans…and always remembering how blessed you are to do this for as long as you get to do it.

    My killer expenses are health insurance, my mortgage, and quarterly tax payments – although I did wind up having to buy a used SUV a couple years ago for survival in this climate, and paid a bit more to get a hybrid. I plan my budget around paying those expenses and my tithes, and everything else is subject to how much is left over. And it is a tough balance. I finally decided to get TV service again…and lost my two most lucrative contracts about two weeks later. Unless you become wildly successful, it’s a life of careful decision-making.

    Which is not to say, don’t do it if that’s where your passion is. I’d still rather work on my own schedule than go out to eat a lot and buy new clothes. It’s to say, go into it with your eyes open.

  5. Rachel says:

    I pre-ordered! Even as a college student, I think it is worth supporting artists like me, and I hope that some day art-loving college students will do the same for me. Instead of using that money to get a few coffees out, I’ll drink tea at home and enjoy a physical and beautiful graphic novel with it!

  6. Paul Taylor says:

    I think it’s awesome to see your story about striking out and doing your comic work full time and getting freelance work. I mean, I’m actually making a living with my nerdy comic but You’re actually getting published. There are publishers that think your stuff rocks and pay you for it.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Hah, thanks! But I sometimes live in fear that publishers won’t pay for it. ;) I very much admire people who make their living by the sale of their own work direct to the consumer. I guess I feel like if First Second decided they didn’t want to work with me anymore, or (god forbid) went under, I’d have no income. I’ve never had to rely on selling my work direct to the consumer to make rent, and it makes me nervous.

      • Paul Taylor says:

        I guess I just get down on myself because I’ve been turned down by almost every publisher that you can think of and it leaves me wondering if my work is just crap.

        • Faith Erin Hicks says:

          Aw, sorry. :( I know it’s a struggle. I’ve been rejected by quite a few publishers too, even had a horrible experience with what used to be my favourite publisher. It sucks. >_<

  7. Vanessa says:

    Thanks for being so honest! Seriously, one of the reasons why I really respect you besides your awesome art of course is that you’re upfront about how much work this field requires. It’s amazing that you’ve been able to turn your hard work into a viable way to support yourself. I’m a comic book artist too – my first book is being published by diamond this spring – and I am definitely not a full-time comic book creator, since we’re also getting paid a percentage of sales. Right now I’m also a graphic designer. Though I probably won’t be able to support myself with comics alone, I do hope to make it a larger part of my career. But either way, I’ll always be impressed that you did it! You give me hope!

  8. Phoebe says:

    I love how honest and approachable your blog posts are. (Though I’m really here for the story, which I’m addicted to – can’t wait to buy the book as a gift for friends!) Although I don’t imagine choosing that path myself, I admire people who completely dedicate their time to their art. I suppose everyone dreams of bestsellers (and I believe you’ll have at least one!) but it seems to me that the ones who succeed love their work and are willing to compromise a bit for it in other areas of life.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Thanks. :) I hope I’ll have a book that really sells someday; I can only hope. I do feel like I’m only starting out in my career, and maybe it’ll become more financially stable down the road. Or maybe this is truly the best I’ll ever be, and it’s all downhill from here. Hopefully not! ^^

  9. Nienke says:

    Impressed with how you do it!

  10. Scott M says:

    Great post. As someone who dabbles in making comics I have often felt twinges of regret over not working harder to do it full time, because it seems like there is a tipping point somewhere that if you want to make comics you need to devote a full day to doing it, but you also have to pay your rent and so on. My circumstances don’t allow for that; maybe someday. Unfortunately, this is a business where in North America sometimes even the best and brightest have fallen on hard times. I’m glad you are sticking with it, your comics are excellent.

  11. Dani says:

    Great post Faith!
    I’ve been reading FWB (and your other works of course!) for aaages and was always going to buy it – but I have just preordered it after reading your words!
    I am an animator from the UK (I think we actually have a mutual friend!) and I am currently working on comics every other hour of the day. I am frugal and for now, I am lucky to still have a day job in animation. But as you’ll relate, this will end the day the project ends…
    I have just got my first published deal (it is a contribution to an anthology) and I hope I can be as hard working and as grounded as you long after the animation work supporting me dries up!
    You really are a source of inspiration to me!

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Who’s our mutual friend? I’m trying to think if I know anyone from the UK…

      Good luck with your future comics!

      • Dani says:

        Aww thank you so much!

        Well, he’s not originally from the UK :) The animation world is so small! I think he’s in Portland working now. Philippe Tardif? He was showing me his friends Halloween costume as I had Lupin III figures all over my desk and I almost squealed when he was pictured with someone dressed as Super Hero Girl ;)
        I do hope you know him and I am not coming across as stalker-y! :D

  12. lydia says:

    you are a very inspiring person and it take a lot of determination and passion to do what you do!I hope one day to be able to do the same thing :D. So continue your wonderful work !

  13. Leah says:

    I hope you’re able to keep doing what you love. All of your comics are fantastic (my niece especially loves the autographed Ellsmere I got her for her birthday a few years back). Meeing you one definitely one of the highlights of my visit to the Toronto Comic Arts festival a few years back. So, you can count on one more preorder when my next paycheck comes in (about a week) :)

  14. MK Reed says:

    Wow, my story is almost identical- worked in retail, got laid off in 2009, almost immediately became a full time comics writer by default! I’d add it also helps to get into hobbies that also produce something, like cooking, gardening & sewing.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yeah, cheap hobbies are the best. Finding affordable things to do that fill your time and give you pleasure makes a poor freelance life so much more bearable.

      Oh, and not drinking as well. XD I have friends who literally drink their paycheques away, and I don’t know how they afford to do that. I’ve never been a big alcohol fan anyway, so once I went freelance it was a good excuse to just end that part of my life.

    • Tara says:

      Ah yes, same boat but not quite anywhere yet. I moved with my husband in the fall and couldn’t find a new job so by default I started doing freelance. Luckily, I started saving last year when I found out we were moving so I’m still using that money, but boy it runs out fast :( I’m in between pitching a book to random indie comic publishers and job searching and doing some freelance when it comes around. It’s a messy time, but hey, I can’t argue that I get to do what I love–even if it doesn’t pay all the bills…. yet? *fingers crossed*

  15. Alisa says:

    Thanks for this detailed post, Faith! It is a must read for those who don’t quite understand artists’ priorities in life and also those who assume successful artists must be making loads of money for the time they put in. It’s a good reality check and I can vouch that I live very similarly (although my income is mostly from freelance animation and not comics.)

    In case other readers are wondering, my lifestyle is very similar in the US. I live in an outer borough of NYC on what would be considered well below minimum wage even though my animation jobs pay well. Contract jobs in the US are also generally unstable which means I have between 3-6 months of downtime per year despite working for multiple clients. If it’s a bad year, there are less productions hiring. Freelance means I don’t usually qualify for unemployment checks and also tend to get paid roughly 60 days after I invoice.

    Living within commuting distance to New York is important for now since that’s where all my gigs tend to be. I have health insurance through my partner, but lived without it for at least 2 years which is pretty scary in the States. My partner has a full time job and we live together so we share rent.

    I don’t have a car, cook at home and wear my clothes until they fall apart. It’s hard to explain my lifestyle to some of my family and non-art friends. And it can be hard to NOT want to spend money on clothes and other fun things especially in the city. But if it means I spend that money to live while I make comics, it’s worth it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think it helps to realize there are others who value the same things. :)

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      :) Good on ya. It’s good to hear stories of other young artists following their own path. I’m sure it’ll work out for all of us, one way or another.

  16. Angela says:

    That was a great post and made me much more hopeful. I am fortunate to have a supportive partner, but it was great to read your story. Extremely helpful.

  17. […] Faith Erin Hicks blogs about this issue, revealing some actual figures (and how beneficial for health care and art […]

  18. Matthew I says:

    I just wanted to chime in with more thanks for this. I know it doesn’t seem to you like it would be helpful, and by itself maybe it’s not, but the more people who do this the easier it is to build up a picture of the possibilities!

  19. Lostways says:

    Whoa, Faith, I had no idea you had to go through all that and suspect others are in similiar situtions. Because of your post I think I’ll go and preorder your book when I get off work here.

    You ever thought of making a side comic of your struggles becoming where you are? that post would be intersting for short little comic that I would probly end up buying if you put your posts in it. Comic on the left hand side your post on the right.

    Anyways, thanks for the comic and more importantly your posts and insites to the web/animation/comic and Canadian thought thingys.
    -your fan a Fellow Canadian

  20. pseudonym says:

    oh! such an inspiring story! it makes me want to sing the anthem! (everyone,sing along now!) oh canada…..

  21. JayBarnett says:

    It’s so great to see someone so positive and with such purpose in comics today. The industry seems so consumed with doom and backbiting. If it turns around, it’s going to be people like you, Faith, that make it happen. Thanks for sharing this! My nice indie bookstore will be ordering a copy for me.

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Hurrah! And yes, it’s meant to be completely positive. Realistic about the sacrifices required for the job, but positive. I’m making it work.

  22. Paul says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this, Faith! I’ve been working in comics for three years now (almost exclusively as a colorist), and it sounds like my trajectory (and income, haha!) has been very similar to yours. There are thoughts you wrote in this post that I honestly wasn’t sure any other person had ever had before. Reading this was cathartic, reassuring and exactly what I needed to see today.

  23. Thanks for sharing such personal info. Along with Evan Dorkin and Andi Watson (and some others) you were one of the few cartoonists whose work I was excited about during my time at SLG and I’m very happy (but not surprised) by your successes. I used to write/draw creator-owned comic books but had to quit after the birth of my second child. It just stopped being viable (this was in 1996, pre-rampant piracy/sharing/re-publishing or whatever you want to call it). But I always felt I left a part of me — I don’t really have the adequate words — unfinished. Since you and other young or young-ish cartoonists may not know what it’s like to be oh, say, 52 years old, married with two kids (one in college), and contemplating a return to making comics in the current environment let me just say the stuff you routinely have to deal with is making what’s left of the hair on my head turn dead white (I’m not kidding). When I was a kid and first becoming aware of comic book history it was common to hear fans get outraged about publishers not paying creators while today it’s outrageous for creators to even want to be paid (but huge thanks to those that buy comics and support creators). That’s crazy. It just seems to me that if you want a beautiful garden you’ve got to water it sometimes (water=money, garden=comics, beautiful=nice to look at, duh). I guess this is your Geezer Post for the day, now get off my lawn!

    • Epetmezas says:

      As someone that’s read almost all your output in comics. I sincerely look forward to the day you make more. Your work was an inspiration to me back in the day for sure. “It’s science” afterall. ;-p


      Love all your work. I hope you continue to create. Thanks for the post.
      Eraklis (Herc)

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Haha, thanks Scott. ^^ I say if you can swing it, time-wise, go for getting back into comics. My mom likes to tell me that people’s lives have seasons, and what may be very important to you in one stage of your life (raising your kids, or making comics your fulltime job) may change as you grow older. Getting out of comics at 25 doesn’t mean you can’t return to them at 45. And I think the internet has really grown as a wonderful resource for cartoonists to use. The entry level is really low and in-expensive, and it’s such a great way to grow your audience, much better than trying to grow a readership in the extremely broken Direct Market. Granted, the internet does not pay, at least at first, but it really can over time, if you invest in it the right way. :)

      So good luck!

  24. Elle Skinner says:

    Faith, it was incredibly interesting and helpful to see how someone earns a living off comics without relying on a second person’s income. Thank you for being so up front about details that so many other comic artists duck :)

    Cannot wait until book is out so I can re-read it gleefully all at once.

  25. gqbrielle says:

    that was a very interesting post! thank you :D

    and excellent comic too ;)

  26. sylvie b says:

    Thanks for writing this. I usually find myself extremely discouraged by people who say you “won’t make money” in comics, NEVER EVER. I’ve been telling myself that since I’m doing okay now (was homeless, currently unemployed, but I just got a full ride to an art college and I have a roof over my head yay!), that surely it would be okay later, making comics. I’ve gotten used to not buying those shoes, you know? Comics are more important, and it’s just nice to hear from someone who isn’t being negative about things, and who’s realistic about money (it’s a thing that buys you food and shelter). I dunno, did that make sense? Anyway, thanks, and keep up the great work! I will work hard too and catch up to you someday!

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Thanks. :) Yes, that was the point of the post: You CAN make a living in comics, but it will require some sacrifices. Here’s how I do it. I really wanted to communicate to people that it’s very possible, but if you want all the smartphones and a house and the ability to shop in stores that aren’t second hand stores, maybe this is not for you. Maybe you’d do better with a fulltime job in another field, and doing comics on the side. And that’s fine! Great! Live your life how you see fit, as that’s the only way anyone can be happy. :)

  27. Brian Wolf says:

    As an American college student who badly wants to live as a comic artist, I want to thank you for posting this. I’ll be graduating next spring, and I’m more than a little terrified of what awaits me out in the Real World. Even though I’m scared, hearing about successes like yours gives me hope that I can make it on my own. Thank you for making such wonderful comics, and I wish you nothing but the best.

  28. […] Faith Erin Hick’s blog post on making a living drawing comics […]

  29. Adam says:

    Insightful post, Faith! Thanks for writing it.

  30. […] Hicks recently opened up about the financial realities of her life as a working cartoonist in a blog post supplementing her current webcomic Friends With Boys, which First Second will release later this […]

  31. Ted Closson says:

    This post reminds me of a lecture I heard from a professor in my graduate program about the fine arts side of things. The teacher, who had been trained in places like London and had an established career, showed us a recent tax return that accumulated both her an her husband’s art incomes. It was less than $20k what they made from art alone. Then she told us graduate students in art not to expect teaching gigs that were tenure track either (something we were told our MFAs were best suited to get us) Turns out those were hard to get as well. It was a pretty scary day. It takes great courage to choose to be an artist- particularly without a support net. Thank you for posting this- so that I understand what I’m getting myself into.

  32. staticgirl says:

    Very interesting blog-post! It’s also good to see so many people doing what they can to produce comics – means that despite the difficulties the medium won’t die anytime soon.

    Also sharing your experiences helps and encourages everyone and helps create a community.

    So thank you all!

  33. Anne says:

    Thanks for this – insightful and articulate and interesting. And having read that Beat debate you got dragged into, not remotely whiny or entitled. You made it completely clear that this is your choice and your love of your art outweighs the financial hardships it brings.

    And it makes me content with the fact I’ll always stay a hobby cartoonist. The internet means you can still find an audience if you’re an enthusiastic amateur which would once have been impossible

    • Anne says:

      Lol – should probably add that the fact I’ll always be a hobby artist is more to do with lack of ability than financial concerns XD

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      yeah, that Beat article fight was unpleasant, especially as I don’t feel I was commenting on any of the things people were fighting about. I wrote the blog post for young creators looking to move full time into comics, and I think it’s reached those people. So mission accomplished, and so what if a couple of buttfaces took my words completely the wrong way. :P

  34. wayne beamer says:

    Hey Faith: The good thing about the Beat mention: I noticed your comics for the first time, and plan to buy Friends With Boys when it comes out, to read and support my fellow creative. One question: I’m looking for stuff my soon-to-be 9-year-old granddaughter would like to read. Does your work lean that way or for and teen audience? Any recommendations on good indy reads for kids (apart from Jill Thompson’s awesome Scary Godmother/Magic Trixie stuff)?

    Thanks… All the best,

    Wayne Beamer

    • Faith Erin Hicks says:

      Yes! I have something I made specifically for young female readers, so hopefully your granddaughter will like it: The War at Ellsmere. Here’s the Amazon page for it, with info about the book’s plot and some reviews:

      Otherwise, I always recommend Bone by Jeff Smith for young comic readers (it’s a 9 volume series). Also there is Smile by Raina Telgemeier and Astronaut Academy by Dave Roman. There is also Zita the Space Girl by Ben Hatke and the Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. All would be great for a young comic reader! I hope she likes one or two of them. :)

  35. wayne beamer says:

    PS Just took a whirl and bought Friends With Boys via Amazon this am… Thanks!

  36. […] -Tom Spurgeon on a initial call of this review progressing this week and how we speak about piracy -Faith Erin Hicks on a mercantile realities of her career as a cartoonist (please give some suspicion to pre-ordering her [very good] book, too) -Heidi MacDonald has a […]

  37. […] Comics | Faith Erin Hicks, creator of The War at Ellsmere, posts a frank discussion about how she makes a living as a comic artist. [Friends With Boys] […]

  38. […] work has been financially successful enough to make some of those compensations moot, but there are very few creators working in this industry that can make similar […]

  39. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Been greatly enjoying FWB despite being a 55yr old male. Good story telling is a universal pleasure . . .
    I recently became a comic artist and writer by accident, a friend asked me to do a project and a very cool guy stumped up the cash. The printer made a beautiful book, but as we all learned, that’s where the hard part starts!
    I think you are very right about the Internet paying off eventually. and if I ever do the comic thing again, I think I will want to see it successful on the wb before even thinking about print. And yes, I do have another income. As for shoes, I don’t wear any. Really.

  40. Dave Hamann says:

    I got this link from a Comicbookresources article ( and just wanted to say that I appreciate you discussing your living situation and some of the harsh realities of pursuing a career in comics that most people don’t know or don’t consider.

    I’ve been doing comics nearly full time now for over a year and it’s kinda nice to see I’m not the only one living with a roommate and wearing the same ratty pair of shoes for the last 4-5 years.

    Very encouraging.

  41. […] This is a pretty cool article by Faith Erin Hicks about making moneys in comics. Also, her comic, Friends With Boys, is pretty ace. You can read it online now, but it’s also being put out by First Second soon, I think! […]

  42. […] I thought your notes about being a Real Comics Artist (and some of the financial aspects of doing comics for a living) were really fascinating. At this […]

  43. […] I read this blog post by talented artist Faith Erin Hicks that she posted to her webcomic Friends With Boys… And it kind of bummed me […]

  44. […] responses from Alex and Simon Moreton. The conversation touches on posts by Faith Erin Hicks about the economic reality of comic book publishing and Kate Beaton about the expense and value of art […]

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Friends With Boys, webcomic edition!

Hello readers, new ones just discovering the comic and those who’ve been with it since the beginning. Friends With Boys is now complete online. You may read it in its entirety, all 200+ pages, for free, for the next eight days. Then the image files of the comic (except for a short preview) will be taken down. While the comic was being serialized online, I blogged a lot about my comic making process. I did write ups about how I make comics, what my opinions on what makes a good comic are, and pointed out various Easter eggs throughout Friends With Boys. That stuff will all remain up, so if you buy a hard copy of Friends With Boys, you can still read along with my thought process.

And now (today!), Friends With Boys is a published book! Yay! I hope that if you’ve read the web version and liked it, and want to support me as a creator, you’ll consider buying the book.

I’ve really enjoyed serializing Friends With Boys online. If you’re new to my work, I started out making comics online before moving into print. I posted the very first page of my very first online comic on my very first website back in August, 1999, and wow, was that page ugly. Here it is! Notice a weird similarity to the first page of Friends With Boys? Yeah, that was not deliberate, I promise. But look how much your drawing skills can improve if you draw thousands of pages of comics over a ten year period! Anyway, I’m really thrilled my wonderful publisher First Second Books has allowed me to return to my roots and put Friends With Boys online as a lead up to its publication. As a reader and purchaser of comics, I have bought quite a few hard copy versions of online comics, because I enjoy the reading experience of having the whole thing collected, and I want to support the author. I hope you will too. :)

Otherwise, there are a few upcoming events I hope to see some readers at:
Book signing! At my local comics shop Strange Adventures, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, March 3rd (Saturday), 2-4pm (EDITING TO ADD: The book launch has been moved to the following Saturday due to the books not shipping to Strange Adventures on time. The launch will now be March 10th from 2-4pm. Go here for info).
Comic convention! I’ll have a table at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, May 6th-7th. There are a few other conventions I am trying to attend, but everything else is up in the air at the moment. For updates, please follow my twitter or join my Facebook fan page.  I’m pretty good about updating those two spots.

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