Friday, April 30, 2004

Off the beaten track, part 2

A Rational Technology repost.

If you're suddenly taken by the urge to become a work-at-home medical transcriptionist, based on the experiences of the heroine Andie whom I wrote about last week, I'd encourage you to survey the whole breadth of opportunities first. Bringing in $1,500 per month may sound great, but there's the long working hours and the air of uncertainty of when the next job will come in.

Still, medical transcription isn't the only available option when it comes to the new class of independent outsourcing work. There are other alternatives, and perhaps far more lucrative ones, as well.

Take, for instance, the world of superhero comicbooks. Browse through the titles from Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse comics and you'll find that some of the artists have Filipino-sounding surnames: Pagulayan, Monsanto, Portacio, Dazo, and Perez. Surprising? There are about two dozen Filipino artists drawing, inking, and coloring American comics, and almost all of them work from the Philippines.

Just as with medical transcription, technology has lifted the barriers of distance between employer and employee. Finding work in the field of comics is no longer an accident of location but is distilled into talent and professionalism.

Breaking into the field of comics, though, is even more difficult than becoming a medical transcriptionist. You have to be able to draw, naturally; you have to be able to tell a story; you have to have a distinctive style; and you still have to sell yourself and meet deadlines.

Assuming that you have all of the aforementioned characteristics, the easiest way to enter the field is to find an agent. A month ago, I attended one such seminar organized by art agency Glass House Graphics (http://www.glasshousegraphics.com). Yes, they have an office here and they are actively looking for talent in the Philippines.

The comics market is not nearly as big as it was a few years ago, but the demand is still there, and it's not likely to go away. If this is your passion, there's still money to be made.

How much money? Take the story of one of the artists I met at the seminar. He currently does a regular monthly title. Working from home, he draws one page per day; a month's work fits nicely into the average comicbook length of 22 pages per issue.

He gets paid around $200 per page, or roughly $4400 per month. Last year, he reeled in P2.8 million.

Not bad for a 24-year old kid working from home, doing what he loves.

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