Comic Laureate Hannah Berry has published her UK Comics Creator Survey. The findings are below. In the report Hannah had to say this, “If there’s one thing this survey has shown unequivocally it’s how much the community LOVES comics but wishes things were better. This report is the most accurate snapshot of the UK comics scene to date, and with it we can finally start a discussion about the steps we need to take to support ourselves, each other, and our fledgling industry.” The next step is further discussion on the findings
The ComicScene website and magazine were not specifically named in the list of media outlets on the survey (new kids on the block obviously!) but it’s nice to see ComicScene alongside the Comics Journal frequently mentioned as a print publication in general comments.
The survey is interesting to read as pre-covid we had launched our online Creators Directory to encourage schools and libraries to approach creators for comic workshops to subsidise their comic work. We also launched our online shop to sell small press comics for creators missing out on ComicCons and work with GetMyComics to promote their outlet too. We also work on a number of comic projects – some funded and paying better than US comic publishers and some with a minimum payment but share in the success and risk if sales go well (creators keeping rights to their work).
What follows are the key results from the survey.
“It’s a hell of a way to make a living, but a great storytelling medium”
Who took part in the research?
• Participation was open to all UKbased makers of comics or cartoons for public consumption aged 16 or over.
• The survey was live between April 18th and May 19th, 2020 and generated a sample of 623 respondents.
• A higher proportion of respondents (60%) identified as male compared to the 2011 UK population census profile
• The respondent profile is younger (68% under 44) than that found in the 2011 UK population base (47% under 44)
• The results indicate that comic creators are less likely to identify as heterosexual (69%) compared to the ONS 2018 UK population baseline (95%).
• A slightly lower proportion of respondents identified as being from a Black, Asian, or Minority Ethnic background (10%) compared to the 2011 UK population base (13%).
• A slightly higher proportion of respondents identified as being D/deaf or disabled (21%) than is found in the 2011 UK population base (18%).
• Respondents largely self-identified as either Middle class (50%) or Working class (31%).
How do they feel about comics and the comics industry?
• The respondents expressed an overwhelming love for comics, but high levels of frustration regarding the comics industry.
“Love comics the medium, love comics the community, not as fond of comics the industry”
What sort of work are they producing, and who for?
• Most respondents are involved in Writing (85%) and Art (79%)
• The most common formats are Oneshot/Single issue comics (56%) and Graphic Novels (52%)
• Science Fiction was the most prominent genre
• 67% of respondents said their work regularly features socio-political topics and/or traditionally underrepresented people or groups
• 90% of respondents said that their work is primarily aimed at an adult audience
Do they make a living from creating comics?
• The average overall income from sources directly or indirectly related to comics production in 2018/19, was £10,299
• 66% of respondents made less than £5,000 from their comics production in 2018/19
• 10% earned between £20,000 and £50,000, and 5% made over £50,000
• The average total income in 2018/19, from any source, was £24,223
What challenges do they face?
• ‘Lack of financial income, or expectation of it in future’ and ‘Lack of time to create’ are the main
challenges respondents face in their comic production life
What support do they need and what changes would they like to see?
• ‘Effective Selling’, ‘Pricing for your work’, and ‘Legal rights in creative industries’ were identified as the areas where respondents would find training and development most useful.
• Respondents most frequently identified greater financial security, more time to produce, and better regulation and transparency within the comics industry as the things they would like to change in their comics production life
How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted on comic creators?
• The key areas where the pandemic has affected comics creators are the time spent on production, increased financial insecurity, and negative mental health impacts.
“Every problem has become magnified”