On Business: Art Board Changes

By | Monday, September 12, 2016 2 comments
You know, I had heard for years that comic art boards used to be significantly larger than they are today. That sometime in the '60s or '70s, Marvel and DC switched to a smaller board to cut costs. It was still oversized relative to a finished comic, but noticeably smaller than it before.

I've known about this for years. In fact, I've seen original art boards from back in the day. Held them in my hands, and was able to see first-hand how much significantly larger they were.

But I was surprised when the Thor Artist's Edition came in back in July that it was so much larger than the previous Artist's Edition books I had. As you can see from the photo, it's noticeable. But despite immediately recognizing that the book was larger to accommodate the larger size of the originals, it's only now just sinking in how much of a change that would have been to artists. They went from about 22" tall down to about 17"! That's nearly a 25% reduction! In theory, that would cut their board costs by about that as well. That's about 250-300 pieces of board per title per year.

Let's assume (for the ease of math) that a larger board cost one dollar. Then a year's worth of boards for a single title would be between $250-$300. But if you cut that by 25%, you're down to $188-$225. That would be significant to your bottom line, whether you or your publisher is footing the bill.

At the time, the artists complained something fierce, from what I've heard. But it's hard to argue with those kinds of savings. Especially with a "handy" reminder that those comics are production items, not pieces of art, and publishers are in the business of making money.
Newer Post Older Post Home


Britt Reid said...

The change in art board size was simply to allow more boards to be photographed at one time by the massive printing film/photostat cameras used by the color separators.
The cost savings to the publishers was not inconsiderable.
You can read the details here... http://www.artofthecomicbook.com/history/art-reduction.htm

Excellent detail! Thanks for sharing that, Britt!