My own commission rates are still rock bottom.

§ July 1st, 2024 § Filed under commissions, Uncategorized § 16 Comments

Once again posting plans have been derailed due to Real Life stuff…I mean, last night, the blogging mind was willing, but the flesh was weak. Okay, to be fair, the mind’s pretty weak too, but hopefully I’ll be back in blogging shape later this week.

In the meantime, the buzz on the street right now is about DC Comics President/Publisher/Man About Town Jim Lee and his recently announced art commission prices:

“For the first time in over 15 years, Jim Lee will be taking commission requests to be delivered exclusively almost all shows he is appearing.

“This offer is an exclusive for show attendees only and won’t be shipped out. There is a limit to six per show so act fast to get yours.

“Penciled and inked by Jim Lee.

“11 by 17 inches, full figure one character with limited backgrounds for $20,000, if more than one character or extra backgrounds or recreation of other covers not drawn by Jim will be $25,000 to $35,000

“9 by 12 inches, waist on up figure with limited backgrounds is $9,000 to $15,000, will have backgrounds and more you pay can have other characters or scenes.

“small head shot, sample is shown, $1000. Size is 3.25 by 7 inches and side profile only.

“Blank cover comic, only bust shot with no background $8,000. And 12k if it a wraparound. Jim Lee will supply the blank cover comic but you can supply at the show if you like.

“Jim Lee will ultimately choose which commissions request he wants to fulfill. Once chosen, payment must be paid in full before the show. He may choose to live stream the creation of the commissions at his studio or at the show.”

There’s some online outrage at these rates, but, honestly…you get that money, Jim Lee. The dude is one of the Top Guys in comics, head of one of oldest and biggest comic book publishers in the country, and even though his output is usually limited to the occasional cover, still remains one of the industry’s superstars. He’ll get takers, no problem. In fact, as I’m writing this I’d be surprised if all slots weren’t already filled.

Is there anyone else in the business right now who could get this level of commission prices? I’d say probably just Todd McFarlane, someone with a similar background (rose to fame working for Marvel, split off to form Image Comics) and is held in similar regard by their fans. I suppose if Steve Ditko were still alive and were, well, an entirely different person, he could have opened up to commissions on this level.

Anyway, this is pretty wild news and has me wondering if other artists are suddenly going to reconsider their own rates. I mean, not up to Jim Lee levels (though I can picture a couple of former Huge Superstars who’d try to pull this off) but maybe thinking “…I can probably bump things up, like, 10% to 20%”). Worth keeping an eye on.

16 Responses to “My own commission rates are still rock bottom.”

  • The real median personal income in the United States in 2022 according to the Census Bureau the and Federal Reserve was $40,480. For half the people in the country, a drawing of a superhero would cost at least but likely more than six months salary.

    What a world, what a world.

  • Thom H. says:

    I fully support the idea of paying artists what they’re worth, but wow — that’s a lot. The sample Galactus/Silver Surfer commission would go for upwards of $26K including service fee. I envy people who can afford to pay that much to decorate their walls.

  • Matthew Murray says:

    I assume everyone buying these will get like Batman or Wolverine or whatever, but if I was a billionaire I’d totally get him to drew Sluggo.

  • Donald G says:

    Well, it’s not as if DC Comics pays Jim Lee a hefty salary – more than most middle-class comics fans will see in a year – to be President, Publisher, and Chief Creative Officer of DC Comics.

    Times are tough out there for a corporate executive. Jim Lee’s not living on Easy Street like some work-for- hire freelancer regularly pushing out 22 pages a month with a meager page rate. Jim Lee’s got it rough and deserves significant compensation, dammit!

  • Signal Watch says:

    man. who would ever think that something cheap and largely disposable would ever have a massively inflated value in the superheroes collectibles business?

  • Eric L says:

    Good for him. He could charge $3000 for a commission and I still couldn’t afford it so if he’s making money off of people who can afford it then more power to him.

  • Aaron says:

    Jim Lee art *without* having to read Hush?

    Priceless.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    In my 20+ years of attending conventions, I’ve acquired over 50 sketches (mostly simple head sketches and “remarques”) a handful of original pages, and few other odds & ends (inked-over print, character design for a toy, etc.), each of which cost me between $0 and $250. If I add the prices I paid together, I’ve spent maaaaybe 1/3 of what Jim Lee will charge for 1 blank cover sketch.

    Artists are free to charge what they want, and drawing comics doesn’t pay enough. I have no problem with artists getting paid for sketches. $1,000- over $20,000, however, prices most fans out. I think that’s overpriced, and I think it will cause other artists to up their prices. We’ll see.

  • DK says:

    Pricing sends a signal.

    This is a signal that “this is REALLY not worth my time, but sure I’ll draw Batman for you if you buy me a diamond ring/luxury vacation/new car”.

    How much does a Jim Lee original art page of X-Men go for? This could be a bargain and you get to pick the subject.

    I’ll take Doctor Manhattan full frontal, please. With Ma Hunkel in the background. $35k well spent.

  • Well, it’s what the market will bear, isn’t it? I have no doubt that Lee will fill up those six slots per show within seconds, and have more people with cash in hand, complaining that he isn’t doing more. More to the point, those drawings are only going to go up in value.

    If you just want a nice portrait of Character X, you’ve got plenty of options. I got a gorgeous watercolor of my character Lady Spectra from artist Ron Randall for like 500 bucks. But if you specifically want ***JIM LEE***, the biggest name in the industry, to draw your crap, then yeah, you’re going to pay through the nose.

    How much do you reckon Taylor Swift would charge you to perform at your birthday party?

  • will richards says:

    Comic fans: “darn, I wish comics would be taken seriously as an art form”

    Also comic fans: “how much?! You could get a piece of ‘proper’ art for that…”

  • Sean Mageean says:

    For that amount of money I think it would be better to buy original comic art pages by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Wally Wood, and Gil Kane…and have money left over to pick up a few Golden Age or Silver Age books…

  • I’m of two minds about this.

    I feel bad for the longtime Jim Lee fan, who had dreamed of having a piece original Jim Lee art hanging on his wall, where it wouldn’t even come near a bay window let alone eBay, have that dream be price out of what he could ever afford to pay. That’s sad.

    Who I don’t feel bad for are all the people who want to pay a only a couple hundred for a sketch and then flip it for thousands. This is why Lee charges this much. And shouldn’t he? It’s his art. He should get the money, not the reseller.

    But all this reminds me of the time he was at a Wizard World meet and greet back in the early 00’s. A bunch of creators were there, signing autographs. Lee was so in demand that he didn’t get to all the table by the end of the event. He stayed there an hour afterward to make sure everyone got an autograph. But one thing he said back then kinds plays now. He picked up a fans sketchbook and showed it to the crowd. “If you bring a book like this to an artist, don’t have one with all the pages ripped out. They’ll know you’re selling their sketch on eBay.” A bit of foreshadowing for me there. :)

  • Snark Shark says:

    I wouldn’t pay THAT much if they were drawn by Michealangelo!

    “I suppose if Steve Ditko were still alive and were, well, an entirely different person, he could have opened up to commissions on this level.”

    The BIG question is, would h be willing to draw Spider-Man?

    “I’ll take Doctor Manhattan full frontal, please”

    *Sung to the tune of “Moon River”* “Blue PENIS. Bluuuuuuue PENIS!”

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    @William Gatevackles: “Who I don’t feel bad for are all the people who want to pay an only a couple hundred for a sketch and then flip it for thousands. This is why Lee charges this much. And shouldn’t he? It’s his art. He should get the money, not the reseller.”

    Upon further reflection, I find myself on the side of “he can charge what he wants,” based purely on fans flipping art and the fact that some rich jerk will actually pay 20 grand or more for Lee’s art.

    I love the fact that we comic book fans can meet artists and writers at conventions, have a nice conversation if the person is willing and time allows, and possibly walk away with an original piece of art. Sketch prices going up, writers charging for autographs, the increase in original page prices: I, the consumer, feel the squeeze but can’t fault any comic book creator and think it makes sense. It’s too bad the comics industry doesn’t pay great and that third parties can make a profit off of the artists’ work, necessitating the increases in cost.

  • William Burns says:

    You don’t think Frank Miller could get these kinds of rates?

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