FAQ: YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
James E. Lyle, Illustrator, 89 Walker Rd., Waynesville, NC 28786  |  828-456-5807  |  doodle@jameslyle.net

Q. If I have an idea for a comic book/graphic novel character or story, do I need to approach you through an established publisher or agent, or are you willing to work for me directly?

A. I am asked this question often, and it still surprises me. As a commercial artist I am used to working with many clients and do so based on three primary concerns.

1. Is the project appropriate to my standards and abilities?

2. Is the client willing to pay me for the time required?

3. Is there time in my schedule to meet the client's needs?

So there is no reason to be afraid to approach me with your idea. I am not exclusively obligated to any company or client.


Q. What is the cost of producing artwork for my comic book/graphic novel?

A. This will depend greatly on the needs of your story, as well as the schedule you hope to produce your project on. Generally speaking you should calculate the cost of your comic book/graphic novel at NO LESS than $200 to $300 per story page (pencils, inks, colors, and letters). Keep in mind that this is the cost of producing professional artwork only, and does not include the cost of web-mastering, publication, solicitation, distribution, advertisement, etc.


Q. If you draw my comic book/graphic novel, who gets to keep the original artwork?

A. Normally speaking the artist will keep all original artwork. However, if you are willing to pay an additional fee, I am willing to offer original artwork as part of the package as well. Keep in mind that this usually doubles the previously mentioned cost of $200 to $300 per page.


Q. How long will it take for you to draw my comic book/graphic novel?

A. This will depend on the length and complexity of the story, and my availability at the time; but generally speaking a 22 page story can be completed in around two and a half months.


Q. Why does the process for creating artwork take so long?

A. I normally begin any project by discussing the concept at length with the client. I may make suggestions that I believe will improve the presentation of the work in comic book/graphic novel form.

If it is a new title, I will create various sketches to familiarize myself with the characters and settings of the story as well as give the client approval over the final appearance of these story elements.

After sketch approval I will produce a series of very small (2 x 3-3/4") thumbnail sketches to indicate the flow of the story, also for client approval.

Once these thumbnails are approved I begin the much longer process of creating poses and tight pencil sketches for each story page. While I have been known to pencil as much as two pages in a single day, a more reasonable pace is one page per business day. Each pencil page is normally sent via e-mail to the client for approval and any adjustments to these are made at this time.

Once the entire story or chapter is penciled I begin the process of inking the pages, again, working at a pace of approximately one page per day. But it should be noted that the inking process does not take place in a linear fashion, and often there will be little communication with clients during this time, as it often appears to be little in the way of progress on a day-to-day basis.


Q. I'm confused. If you can draw a page of pencil daily and send proofs to the client, why not the same with inks?

A. Ink takes a while to dry, so when I am inking I tend to jump from page to page -- inking a line here, a face there -- in order to allow the wet ink an opportunity to dry without smearing it accidentally. So when a week is done I may have completed the equivalent of five pages of inks, but it is in the form of a panel or two on 22 pages.


Q. Are you willing to work for royalties?

A. I accept royalties in the form of an up-front payment of 50% of negotiated per page rate when beginning a project and, 50% upon approval of final proofs (but before delivery of full resolution scans or originals to the client). These payments are contractually negotiated as "a non-refundable advance against future royalties." In most cases I also expect a royalty payment for any work with sales that exceed a certain threshold, or for any property that is licensed for other media (film, television, advertising, toys, etc.).


Q. Do you do all the artwork yourself?

A. My specialty is pencil and ink illustration. While I can supply lettering and coloring in some cases, I prefer to work with trusted associates that specialize in those areas, particularly when producing a larger project. I can refer you to various associates who take on these types of jobs, or sub-contract them with your approval.