Jack Kirby’s 1970 contract with DC Comics was for 15 pages a week.
Last time in Part 3 of “Comic Pages Drawn Per Year Series” (Part 1 & Part 2) we looked at Jeff Smith and Eduardo Risso. Guys who had done a big project that spanned many years — 1,342 page/55 issue and 2,200/100 issue stories respectively.
I started wondering about guys who had worked on even BIGGER projects than Bone or 100 Bullets. That led me to weekly serialized manga, and specifically Katushiro Otomo’s Akira and Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece (the highest selling manga series of all time). Manga series come in all shapes and sizes, but most manga are around 16-20 pages and are serialized in collections (like Shonen Jump) each week (with a few weeks off during the year). Most manga artists (known as mangaka) employ assistants (generally 3-5) to help them get their work done under such tight deadlines. Since there are ton of unknown variables when looking at these numbers for Otomo and Oda, I’m positive the stats are nowhere near accurate, but they’re still interesting nevertheless.
= 2,168 pages
= 289 pages a year (for 7.5 years)
= 24 pages a month
= 6 pages a week
- Otomo began working on the Akira anime in the middle of the manga series (so he was pulling some serious double duty).
- Akira anime was released July 16, 1988, two years before the manga ended.
- by Eiichiro Oda (& his assistants)
- 629 chapters (as of this writing)
- August 1997 – now (14 years and counting)
- That’s 5,073 days or 724 weeks
- 20 pages a chapter (roughly)
= 12,850 pages
= 918 pages a year
= 76 pages a month
= 18 pages a week
For comparison’s sake:
- Bone was 1,342 pages
- Akira & 100 Bullets are both roughly 2200 pages
- Akira finished in 7.5 years (with assistants and doing a movie)
- 100 Bullets finished in 9.5 years (unknown if any assistants and doing other comic book mini-series)
- One Piece is 12,850+ pages
- That’s like 10 of the Bone: One Volume Editions!
- Or 5 Akiras (and counting)!
For part 3 of “Comic Pages Drawn Per Year (Part 1, Part 2) I wanted to look at a couple guys who had worked on a single project that spanned many years of work. I remember stumbling across a figure somewhere on the internet — 1,342 pages. That’s how long Jeff Smith’s Bone series is. Seeing that figure is actually what started me down this path of looking at different creators and seeing how many pages they’d drawn during various points of their career.
When Jeff started Bone, he was writing, penciling, inking, lettering promoting and publishing it! To say he wore many hats is a ridiculous understatement, but I point that out to give a context to the amount of pages he was producing. He wasn’t just penciling, he was doing 10 other things at the same time.
As I started looking at Jeff’s numbers on Bone, I realized that while the series was 1,342 pages, it was “only” 55 issues. Now obviously 55 issues is a hell of an accomplishment, but when I see page counts in thousands for some reason I was thinking it had have been like 80-100 issues or something. But it was roughly 55 issues at 24 pages each. Seeing that number 55 immediately made me recall another of my all-time favorite artists, Eduardo Risso. Eduardo had penciled and inked 100 issues of 100 Bullets (written by Brian Azzarello). What was his output like over a project that was nearly twice as long as Bone?
So below is the breakdown on Jeff Smith’s Bone, and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets. Now for the usual disclaimer: Remember these are just ballpark numbers and don’t take into account all the other comics, covers and other gigs they did during the time they were on these projects. Oh, and by the way, this July marks the 20th anniversary of Bone.
= 1,342 pages of Bone
= 103 pages a year
= 8.6 pages a month
= 2 pages a week
= 10 Eisner Awards
= 11 Harvey Awards
Update: After this was posted, the awesome Katie Shanahan (fellow ACAer) and a friend of hers met Jeff at this year’s San Diego Comic Con. They actually brought up these posts and he thought 2 finished pages of Bone a week sounded about right for his production. Thanks Katie and mystery friend!
= 2,200 pages of 100 Bullets (that’s assuming each issue was 22 pages, which I know they all weren’t. So this number is probably way low.)
= 18 pages a month
= 4.5 pages a week
= 4 Eisner Awards
= 3 Harvey Awards
In Comic Pages Drawn Per Year – Part 1, we looked at 6-issue a year artists, 12-issue a year artists and some ROUGH estimates of Bryan Hitch’s output for a few projects. Again, the reason for this series of posts was my curiosity about how fast other comic book artists were producing pages during a year, or even over the course of a multi-volume project.
= 310 pages in 365 days
= 26 pages a month
= 6 pages a week
As I work on issue #1 of The Happy Samurais, I start to consider the scope of the series. I plan on it being a series of mini-series (aka, the Hellboy business plan) and currently have ideas for 6 volumes. But then I start to wonder just HOW LONG will it take me to draw all those issues and minis? How many pages do I need to draw per year? Per month? Per week? What kind of schedule can I realistically release it on?
So I started looking around at other creators to see what kind of productivity they had and how many comic pages they drew in a year. I’d keep track of whatever numbers I came across. I’ve got a fair number of these stats to share, but instead of releasing them in one big chunk — where you start to get overwhelmed by all the numbers and they lose their significance — I’ll release them one by one over a period of time.
A disclaimer. These numbers are just approximations based on whatever info I could find on the internet. They don’t take into account other projects the creators were working on concurrently, or covers drawn etc. Plus, it’s entirely possible my math is off. So don’t quote anything as fact! It’s just ballpark numbers. First up is Bryan Hitch.
For those of you unsure of how many pages the standard American comic is, currently most Marvel and DC comics are 32 pages long, with 20 pages of story and 12 pages of ads. From the mid’s 80′s on, most Marvel and DC comics were 32 pages long, with 22 pages of story. Only within the last couple of years (probably 2010) have they trimmed back to 20 story pages an issue. For quite a while in the 70′s, both companies were running 17 page stories.
- these stats for 1999 were according to Bryan. I can’t remember where he mentioned them exactly, but I think it was twitter.
- The Ultimates
- 13 issues all penciled by Bryan
- March 2002 – April 2004
- That’s 762 days or 108 weeks
= 360 pages of pencils
= 180 pages a year
= 15 pages a month
= 3.75 pages a week
- The Ultimates 2
- 13 issues all penciled by Bryan
- December 2004 – May 2007
- That’s 880 days or 125 weeks
= 380 pages of pencils
= 158 pages a year
= 13 pages a month
= 3.25 pages a week
Note: Bryan Hitch responded on twitter after I posted this, that yes, my stats were a little off and that “it’s also worth noting that since 2006, with exception of 2010 when I did 6 issues and new baby, annual average is 230+ pages”