I loved working for my friends at Marvel and DC, and I was always compensated with a very generous upfront page rate, but by betting on myself (and Fiona!) and waiting for money on the back end with Saga, I’m already making way, way, WAY more than what I made on comparably selling books that I wrote for other companies. And that’s after splitting everything 50/50 with my richly deserving co-creator.
— Brian K. Vaughan, discussing his collaboration with Fiona Staples on Saga
Vaughan also expresses surprise at how much money there is to be made in creator-owned books, although Saga is probably a phenomenon in that regard; the first issue sold 70,000 copies, and from March through June, Saga has been either Image's No. 1 or No. 2 seller for the month, according to Diamond Comic Distributors, with only The Walking Dead charting higher.
As independent creators working on their own property, Vaughan and Staples have chosen to go the route of selling more at a lower cost, pricing their monthly comic at $2.99 and the upcoming trade at $9.99. Digital is an even better deal, with
the first issue free* and issues 1-5 priced at $1.99 on comiXology right now. And yet they are selling enough comics — and keeping enough of the proceeds, as opposed to splitting with middlemen — to pay themselves a page rate and take a profit on the back end, which is a nice place to be.
*All five copies are $1.99; I saw the first one as free because I own the digital copy. Duh.