Please. Always Read a Publishing Contract. For the Children.

If you, webcomic creator, are ever in a position to get your work published, never, never, assume the publisher is your best buddy and that a “standard contract” is somehow fair to both of you. Companies are not people and most of the time a contract is between you and the company (not the people who work for the company).

This sad story of contract stupidity involves not a webcomic creator but a brilliant mathematician who wrote a book based on his website. You may not be able to calculate differential equations, but you can certainly be smarter about contracts.

Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.


  1. This is a prime example of why Corporations should have never been given the full legal rights of citizens. Their complete lack of ability to form any sort of longterm commitments makes them downright psychotic. They’ll gleefully blow the chance to make $1M over 10 years if presented with the chance to blow it all yet make $1K right now. Boneheads!

  2. Anyone facing a contract should buy the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines.”

    In addition to pricing guidelines for different publishing jobs (for example, how much should you charge for a black-and-white cartoon published in a trade magazine?), it also outlines several different types of contracts and explains contract language.

    For example: “Work for hire” means that as soon as you submit your work, you forfeit all rights into perpetuity. The publisher becomes the creator of the work in the eyes of the law.

    The Graphic Artists Guild has a cool Web site, too:, in which they offer some of the information from the book (like a glossary of contract terms), and they even post some actual contracts from real publishers (including a contract from one of the major newspaper comics syndicates).

    Never assume a contract is written in stone — and if your publisher refuses to consider negotiating a contract, RUN AWAY! It won’t be worth the effort in the long run.

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