Hiring artists to work on your comic can be a tenuous situation. There are so many horror stories out there that set a bad example for all involved. There are scammers, con artists, and bad actors that poison the well for everyone. And this goes for both sides. There are creators that either don’t pay their artists or make false promises just as there are artists who don’t finish work they were paid for or try other shady maneuvers after the fact. These stories make it difficult to operate, but that doesn’t mean one should shy away from trying to make the best comics they can.
The ultimate question is whether or not to pay an artist upfront or upon delivery of the work. This is a debated topic for which both sides have reasons to be wary. Plenty of artists have been shafted for doing work they weren’t paid for, so many of them will not begin without some form of deposit. In contrast, plenty of creators have agreed to pay upfront only to have an artist disappear and never hear from them again.
So what should a creator and artist do in this situation? There’s really no one way to handle the artist/creator relationship. The trick is just to find some situation that both parties are comfortable with. Sometimes, that means walking away from a partnership if terms can’t be met. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean the potential relationship has to be soured or that one person is at fault. Everyone is entitled to negotiate the terms they are comfortable with. It often helps to give a little if the person you are working with has a good reputation, a track record of delivering, and also comes with a recommendation. Plus, working with somebody you have formed a past relationship with helps ease some of those burdens. It’s truly a matter of trial and error. This is business, but it helps not to take things personally. It’s tough separating your emotions from the work, especially when money is involved, but at the end of the day everyone is just trying to make comics. And that’s the most important thing.