Funny things can happen when art, commerce and editorial all mix. I’ve been through this a number of times on “custom jobs” when I (solo or during my tenure at Top Cow) have been approached to provide either custom comics jobs (usually video game and movie tie-ins) or advertising materials. I’m sure others have had it worse, since I can still manage to smile about it.
But lost in the story here is that the artist, Bill Mayer, mentions that he sent his art director “the normal forty thumbnails” for his cover illustration. I stopped dead in my tracks when I read this. Forty? 40? Earlier in the article he mentions the illo paid $300, which is less than what the total cost of a comic cover is in most cases (depending on budget, publisher, etc.). I always asked for a minimum of three cover thumbnails or sketches before we moved forward, and while some artists were happy to comply and provided more than that, others would barely offer one (or try to skip even that step). Mayer does forty without batting an eye, for less than most comic covers cost. Sure, his illustration may be seen as less intensive than a traditional comic cover, and that might be true, but it’s not really the point.
He knows it’s a job, sticks by the rules of professionalism, and does what’s needed to make sure he gets his work published and is paid for his effort. Let that be a lesson to all of us.