"Anybody know where the page rate came from?" I ask rhetorically.
When comics started, they were reprint magazines for comic strips.
The comics magazines paid newspaper syndicates $5/per page for the reprints.
When new magazines started shifting over to new material, the publishers didn't want to loose ONE percent of their profit margin, so they'd pay the same $5 per page rate to creators for all-new material; that's for writing, pencils, inks, color, and lettering, (though their process was writing, pencils, lettering, inks, color).
That's the legacy of the comic book payment structure.
Our payment system was designed so that publishers would know EXACTLY how much the content would cost them.
For better or for worse, this is piecemeal work.
Sew on five buttons at a cent a button, you make five cents.
Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to this kind of system.
What are they?
Rain writes, "It allows a writer/artist to quantify the work they've put in, and be compensated accordingly."
That means a creator knows exactly how much he/she will be paid for x-amount of work.
Write five pages per day for DC at $100 per page, make $500 per day.
Why is this better than a system involving advances?
Why is this better than a system involving royalties? This last one isn't a trick question, but remember we're discussing ALL the comics industries, not just the direct market, so before anybody shoots off their stock answer to this question, go back to last week's column and look at all the different types of comics cultures there are, and then come back with an answer that takes them into account.
What do I mean? Well, for example, it would be silly to suggest Charles Schulz didn't profit well from a variation of the royalty system.
So, mull this one over, and consider what are and aren't the relevant variables.