Contracts with comic artist (from a writer's perspective)

If you are a writer planning to hire an artist to draw your comic, it's important to get a proper contract in place, so you retain all the rights to your story.

Where should I start?

You will need a Work for Hire contract (also known as a work made for hire or WFH). This type of contract allows you to retain all rights to the created work and do with those works as you please (pitch, webcomic, etc.).

You are paying a worker (artist) to do some work (draw your story). Because you are taking all the risk (financial), you should retain all rights to it. After you find/hire an artist, getting a contract in place is the next logical step.

I spent a lot of time searching for a Work for Hire template contract I could use. There were a lot of good articles out there on how to put one together, but not many provided a dummy contract I could use.

Some websites actually did, but I read through the contracts and I don't think they were completely correct.

It's better to get a legitimate contract yourself you can reuse than hope someone gave you a correct contract, because if your story does become successful, and God forbid some disagreement came up, you could lose many of your rights because you took a bad shortcut.

It's better to be safe. 

Can't I just give you mine? No. First, contracts can be a little different for everyone. Second, I don't want someone hassling me because my contract didn't work for their situation. :D

My advice is to find a good lawyer and have two general Work for Hire contracts put together (one covering pencils/inks/color/covers and the other covering letters).

I know this costs a little money, but you can reuse those contracts for all your comics and various artists moving forward. That means you pay once for contracts you can use over and over again without having to worry if you are legally covered.

Things to keep in mind:
  • I am in the USA, so my contracts specify anyone I hire globally agrees to USA laws. I would include this language for whatever country you are based in.

    Why? Many great artists from around the world will probably respond to your posts for help, don't limit yourself.
  • If you have hired multiple artists to do different things (one does pencils/inks, the other does colors), copy the first contract I mentioned and erase the parts that don't apply to that particular artist.
  • For your master copy, highlight in yellow the parts of the contract that will change from artist to artist, so when you make a copy, it's easy to find the parts you need to change.
  • For the letterer contract, it's standard practice to allow two revisions after the initial work is done. Include that in your contract. Letterers usually demand this anyway, and it also helps you save time by really doing all your reviews in those two shots.

Who did I use? 
I used Barnes & Thornburg LLP in Indianapolis, IN, and they did a great job. I am in California by the way, and it wasn't a problem communicating everything over phone/email. You can use whoever makes the most sense for you. A quick search brings up lots of options.

I hope that helps!


P.S. - If this helped, please support me by reading my free webcomic halfwing, thanks!


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