What is the Cartoonist Cooperative?

The intent behind the cooperative is to make our creative practice more sustainable and successful. Functionally, the cooperative is a community of comics-makers who will contribute to:

  • A curated comics catalogue
  • The mutual marketing effort of each other’s work. Taking inspiration from Panel Syndicate, Shortbox Comics Fair, and comic collectives, the website will promote new comics on a shared schedule with other members, thereby allowing all to contribute to its promotion. This will be done through a self-reporting system based around shared forms and documents.
  • The continued development of each other’s comics practice and career

What is the Cartoonist Cooperative’s future goals?

  • Set an industry standard for livable pay rates for all freelancers working in comics
  • Establish equitable industry standard contracts and challenge unfair contracts
  • Establish a Grievance Assistance Team that helps members settle disputes with publishers and clients
  • Awards grants to fund cartoonists and their comic projects

Who are the founding members?

The cooperative was developed by Sloane Leong, Zach Hazard Vaupen, Nero Villagallos O’Reilly, Reimena Yee, Joan Zahra Dark, and Aaron Losty and officially launched February 25th, 2023.

What are the benefits of the co-op?

  • Work with a marketing team and learn how to promote your work and others.
  • Work trades: exchange your skills for the use of other members’ skills.
  • Access our private Discord and forum where you can work and learn in community with other cartoonists, gain mentorship and more.
  • Gain a larger readership for your new work and back catalog by pooling the audiences of different cartoonists together in one place.
  • Centralize comics in a searchable way, without them getting lost in a variety of other products
  • Support and promote the work of marginalized creators whose work may not fit the mold of mainstream tastes; those who do break into publishing are often censored, underpaid and under-supported because of their marginalizations.

What work will be promoted?

  • Unpublished original minicomics, graphic novels, and serialized comics with a minimum page count is 16 pages with no max page count.
  • Ebooks and print editions are welcome.
  • Previously published comics will be added to the website catalogue but won’t be offered a full promotional campaign. They will be promoted during when relevant eg. holidays/seasonal moments, breaking news on relevant topics, etc.
  • If the comic is being published through a large imprint with a marketing budget, the co-op may opt not to offer promotional support but this will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
  • Fan comics, using any IP that is not yours, will not be accepted.
  • Comics whose images are generated by AI will not be accepted. 

Will it be a storefront?

No. Especially in the case of adult-oriented work, the chances of getting our accounts frozen is a risk. The co-op site will have a landing page for each comic with links to the artist’s storefront of choice, who have successfully protected their customers from CC companies.

Will it be a publisher?

For now, no. Cartoonists must have a publisher or self-publish their digital or print comics and handle fulfillment themselves. However, in the future, if we build up enough of an audience, there is a possibility of the co-op running crowdfunding campaigns to support the work of more cartoonists.  

How do members and volunteers contribute?

There will be many ways one can contribute to the success of the co-op’s members. This could be helping out during the current  promotional campaigns or before, during the production of the comic. Some examples of ways you might assist members: offering creative feedback, editing, proofreading, offering design assistance, writing promotional copy, seeking blurbs, sending out ARCs, or helping with social media engagement. Promotional campaigns will be more structured with needed roles clearly defined so that everyone’s responsibilities will be clear and manageable. Members and volunteers trading their skills and labor is a cornerstone of the Cooperative. 

How do you decide whether to promote a cartoonist and their comic or include it on the co-op site?

The committee will make decisions together on who to promote and feature on the site. The main factors we consider are the quality of the art and writing and if the potential member is someone who enjoys working collaboratively, who receives and offers criticism well, and who is self-motivated and willing to contribute to the cooperative. All our active members work on behalf of the coop. The quality of the work we feature is important to us as we establish a reputation for curators of excellent comics, and we expect our members to meet that standard. The co-op may decline to feature or promote the comic until it meets our standards. 

Do individual cartoonists have complete control over their own comics, or is that part of the cooperative process?

The cartoonists always have complete control. The only thing we ask you to include is an acknowledgment if the cooperative has helped you in some way by including the logo and “Produced with assistance from the Cartoonist Cooperative” somewhere in the front or back matter.)

How would the campaign process work?

  1. The committee will go through submissions or invite authors to work with them.
  2. Once a campaign proposal is discussed and accepted, we will finalize the timeline of the release eg. the best time of year for it to run (a horror book during October, a beachy slice of life book during summer, etc). We will also need to consider if any other members want to release comics as the point of the co-op is to pool our collective audiences. Too many releases at once or too soon would sap our audiences.
  3. Once the timeline is agreed on, the co-op will help the author organize their campaign plan and help in the comic’s production if necessary. This doesn’t mean doing this FOR the author, but helping where they are at a loss. We expect cartoonists working with us to do thorough research and not rely entirely on the efforts of other members. Support for the cartoonist could include helping them:
    • Create copy, video and graphics for the release
    • Create a robust marketing plan for pre-pub, at-pub, and post-pub.
    • Organize and schedule print/shipping details
    • Assisting with prepress setup
    • Adding the comic landing page to the co-op site and retailer sites
  4. Release the comic. This should be where the co-op shines: while the primary marketing should be done by the author, all the members should help promote the project. Through mutual promotion, we can build a wider audience and hopefully earn a better payout for our author.
  5. If the comic is successful, the author might consider donating to the co-op fund to help finance things like web hosting costs, site maintenance, etc
  6. Members should track and share critical information so as to improve the co-ops marketing plans like:
    • Copies sold
    • Referral analytics
    • Other relevant information

How will it be supported?

Anyone can donate to the co-op here.

What are the donations used for?

Any money we receive via donation is used for our base annual expenses: our newsletter host, our website domain and hosting, and database. Anything over our currently listed goal on ko-fi will go towards the committee’s labor and any future Cooperative endeavors.

What are grounds for member removal?

  • Members not engaging with their campaign or missing campaign deadlines.
  • Members being inactive for 6 months.
  • Antagonistic or unprofessional behavior, online or elsewhere.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us at cartoonistcooperative@gmail.com.