Rumors have started circulating that the price KABOOM is paying for Adventure Time covers is around $200. While this may seem like a reasonable amount considering that is a more or less standard page rate for artists – it is honestly very low for covers, especially for a company that not only is doing multiple printings of the comics (Adventure Time #1 and #2 did extra printings) but is also additionally reprinting covers and getting full rights to the work.
While the anonymous rumors continue to circulate the question starts to rise – what is the right rate to pay for a cover? According to comic creator Dustin Harbin “…$500 is a minimum rate — MINIMUM — for a full color illustration like an AT cover.” Considering most of the artists involved with the projects are webcomic creators with large fan bases that already support them, that alone means the artists are bringing in a decent portion of their followers in for the comic by their name alone – and stores are meanwhile able to up-charge for the more collectible covers. Meanwhile KABOOM most likely controls the rights in perpetuity for the cover art which means they can produce more cover galleries where the art is reprinted which cuts the artist from the value.
It is arguable that the exposure is valuable from experience or the job itself simply for working on a comic the artist cares about but it sets a dangerous precedent. But lowering the minimum rates and finding people willing to work for that amount it can lead to a devaluation of cover work, the work of the illustrators and their position in the marketplace.
It is in the interest of the artist to fight for higher art rates – or to expect them without needing to fight in the first place and KABOOM should be expected to treat the artists respectfully by paying reasonable rates, no matter what.