i'll chime in here as i've got a bit of experience along these lines.
character designs are tricky. you need to spell it out in your contract. do you want visuals based on your detailed descriptions and or half assed sketches? that's pretty much taking bad art and making it good art. not something he or she will be able to claim was theirs. but if they take your pretty vague idea of a character and turn it into one bad ass character...that's something you'd owe them for long term.
for instance. i gave an artist a pretty detailed description of a female character, down to her mask, cape, hair, etc. he drew her up, and she rocked.
with another character, i said "he's the biggest redneck you've ever seen, with powers." he in turn made this wicked villain, and while we didn't use him after the three or four pages he appears on...there's no way i could say that wasn't just as much his character as mine.
now technically, in both cases, i own the characters in full because of the contract we entered into when we began the series. but after we'd worked together through...5 issues or so, and he'd put so much effort and soul into the work, i split the entire thing with him, right down to giving him a piece of the copyrights. did i have to? nope. but was it the right thing to do? absolutely. in my opinion the work was as much him as it was me, and he deserved every bit of it.
now sure, Steve's right when he says the likelihood of us turning any serious profit is pretty much slim to none. printing singles just isn't the path to financial freedom. however, you never know. movie deals come and go, and we're living in an ever changing and expanding industry. so you never know, really.
rule of thumb with all this contract stuff is, if you're worried about it, put it in there just to be safe. at the end of the day it's all about protecting yourself and your work, and you can't overdo that. you can set things as in stone as you need to really. put deadlines in black and white, and put the consequences for missing them. you can get as indepth, or as basic as you want to. that's up to each individual.
Thank you so much for the information. I just found this column and will be reading all the posts instead of working for the rest of the day! Here is my situation: I hired an artist at $70 per page and asked for 10 pages to be completed in a reasonable amount of time. I also offered a 50/50 split in rights. This was all specified in the contract that I sent to him. The problem is that over two months have gone by, and I have a total of 2 pages from him. 2. Now granted, I have received some excellent character designs and a cover sketch, but the 2 completed pages look rushed and are not at all up to the quality that I've seen on his website. I've already paid him the first half of the money ($350) but I'm wondering what to do now. Is it worth it to wait for the next 8 pages (and pay the remaining money) and actually have something to show to potential editors, all the while knowing that the art would probably turn off anybody looking at submissions? Or is it time to cut my losses and get out of here while I can? Thanks for any help!