As you may have surmised from a-wandering around me ol’blog, about 1/6th of my yearly income comes from my freelance comic-book colouring work.
One of the great aspects of freelancing within comics is that it’s not well paid, and the work is scarce unless you really put in the hours finding it. In recent years, I’ve only put in a bare minimum of effort (there are various boring reasons for this, none that I’ll go into at the present time), so work has been thin on the ground.
Back in late 2011, I was brought on board to colour a mobile phone based comic book. I coloured issues 1 & 2 without problem, and got paid for them with no problem either. When the third issue rolled around, I was only able to colour half the book due to health issues, and another colourist took over the last half. I submitted an invoice for my pages in November 2012, and awaited the cheque.
Didn’t know it then, but it was going to be a long wait.
For reasons that were never made clear to me, it took over fourteen months of constant chasing and legal action to finally get paid. My first books for them were paid with no issues, then for no reason, it all changed. After a year of non-payment, I took the company to Small Claims, and their single sentence defence to the courts was “We’ll deal with the claimant directly”. It seemed to me to be purely another stalling tactic to fob off the courts. After saying they’d deal with me directly, I still had no contact from them. My emails were ignored, and phone calls diverted through an army of receptionists, who always told me I’d ‘just missed’ the people I wanted to speak to, who ‘were in meetings’, seemingly ALL the time. I was assured a cheque was being sent to me. After waiting a week with no sign of this cheque, I began trying to drum up some bad publicity on their head office Twitter, and phoned and emailed repeatedly, until by some miracle they actually did pay up, by a bank transfer. So that cheque had clearly NOT been sent, as I expected. I never received any of the promised callbacks from the people I needed to speak to, I never received an apology, or a reason for the delay. I simply can’t get over how staggeringly rudely I was treated.
But at the end of it all, I got paid. I notified the courts, and I’m resolved now to try and avoid this sort of shit in the future. It’s certainly helped me get past some of my naivety as a freelancer. Ongoing I will only be working for people with written payment agreements in place, ideally with deposits up front. And I need to hold my ground and stick to that maxim. Thankfully, most everyone else I’ve worked with before this and since has been great and paid up (or informed me with good reason for delays, which I don’t mind – as long as I know what’s going on, I’m cool!).
But man…. what a hassle. I’m going to hold a grudge about this for faacking AAAAAAAGES. Gotta let go, gotta let go…