What is the Cartoonist Cooperative?
The Cartoonist Cooperative is a member-driven organization that aims to improve and protect the careers of comics workers globally. As a member of the Cartoonist Cooperative, you will benefit from and contribute to organized promotional campaigns for members’ comics, career development resources, creative feedback and assistance, professional connections, and more.
What are the Cartoonist Cooperative’s goals?
- Fight for rates to meet the costs-of-living for all comics workers.
- Establish industry standard contracts and challenge unfair contracts.
- Spotlight cartoonists from underrepresented communities.
- Building strength through communal and effective marketing of our members’ published works.
- Assist members in settling disputes with clients and publishers, either through personal coaching or directly on members’ behalf.
- Award grants to fund cartoonists and their comics projects.
Is the Cartoonist Cooperative a union?
The Cooperative is NOT a union. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 does not allow government employees, agricultural laborers, independent contractors, supervisors (with limited exceptions), or domestic workers the right to organize and join unions, engage in collective bargaining with their employers, and take collective action, like striking. The vast majority of comics workers are independent contractors, meaning we are in this unprotected class.
However, even if we can’t be legally recognized as a union, we can still work together to demand better pay and weed out predatory practices in our industry! We do this by realizing our collective interests and pursuing them through direct action — by pressuring employers in our industry to shape up by withholding our labor.
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.
How many members does the cooperative have?
As of September 2023, we have 700+ members. Our membership comprises of all experience levels: from multiple Ignatz winners to cartoonists making their first zines.
What are the benefits of the co-op?
- Improving the working conditions and wages in our industry
- Access to private virtual and in-person events
- Work with fellow members to learn how to promote your work and others.
- Work trades to 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 centralizing the audiences of different cartoonists together in our curated searchable comics catalog.
- 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.
- Access to our ever-growing members exclusive benefits package.
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.
Is it 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.
Is it 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.
Is the catalogue only for webcomics?
No- all comics are welcome, and catalogue submission is not a requirement of membership.
Are erotic comics allowed in the catalogue? Are adult artists able to join?
Yes! We encourage NSFW, R18, erotica- whatever you want to call yourself and your comics, you’re allowed. One of our founders is primarily an adult artist, so you’re in safe hands with us.
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?
- The committee will go through submissions or invite authors to work with them.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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, please contact us at email@example.com.