Village Voice Comes Under Fire for Not Paying Contributors to Comics Issue

april 7, 2011  12:06 pm
Village Voice Comes Under Fire for Not Paying Contributors to Comics Issue
Several cartoonists are criticizing The Village Voice for not paying some contributors to its Comics Issue that came out this week.

A bracketed disclosure included in the Roy Edroso piece about the dismal economics of cartooning noted that "many of the artists in this issue aren't getting paid, but have contributed work for the exposure."

The move has caused a bit of an uproar in the comics community, and led to criticism from cartoonists like Danny Hellman, Mimi Pond and Matt Wuerker.

In comments on a story on the comics news website The Beat, Hellman -- whose illustrations have graced many an alt-weekly -- writes:

Free work for 'exposure' is something that all commercial artists must do from time to time, especially when their careers are just getting underway. That said, I'm appalled that the Voice, a venue that can and should pay for professional illustration, opted to pad out their big comics issue with a pile of weak, unpaid illustration.
Pond weighs in with a comment on the Voice story itself:

Village Voice, you have got some nerve printing this story after you asked me and god knows how many other cartoonists to contribute free work for this issue-with the stipulation that it would be 'good exposure' for me. You can go fuck yourself! You used to pay me decent money back in the 80s to do full-page cartoons for Mary Peacock's V section. The 80s were very very good to me. I had a real career as a full-time cartoonist and illustrator. I stopped for a minute to have children and then when I looked up again, my career had fallen off a cliff. So thanks, Village Voice. Thanks a lot.
And Wuerker, the cartoonist for Politico, writes to Jim Romenesko:

The Village Voice devotes an entire issue to the irony of cartooning being hugely popular while cartoonists have a hard time making ends meet. Then it turns out they didn't pay for the cartoons they used in the issue. Instead they got the cartoonists to contribute them for 'exposure.' Sums up the new media economy perfectly. It's so ironic it would make a funny cartoon.
Meanwhile, Voice editor Tony Ortega defends the paper in comments to Romenesko:

This was a special issue celebrating and commiserating with cartoonists on the tough state of their industry. In order to fill it out with so much art, we asked some artists to donate their work. We then felt we couldn't do that without disclosing publicly [they weren't paid]. I figure it's better to speak up about something like that than do otherwise.