1) The Bigs won't hire you because you need experience, to prove you can make deadlines, work with a team, etc.
2) Medium publishers say the same thing.
3) Small pressers are always looking for talent. But because they are working on a shoestring, they can't afford to pay much, if anything. So you accept in hopes of gaining exposure.
4) Someone offers compensation but doesn't deliver.
5) You bitch about being screwed.
6) Word shoots around other publishers that you are a troublemaker and they will not give you work, closing off your avenue to break into the biz.
Rick Olney started a comic publishing company called Tight Lip. His efforts to avoid paying creators for their work are legendary (he even went back on paying Greg Horn, one of the biggest names in the biz). He is refusing to even negotiate payments unless people stop talking about him on message boards and agree to sign a Hold Harmless (in other words, you can't sue him). A guy took him to small claims court, got a judgement against him, and called a collection agency. Today, Olney sent a payment, $100.
As far as I'm aware, Scott Reed is the only one to take this route, and he's the only one to get some cash. No one else is trying. They may be complaining about not getting paid, but are they worried that, if they take action, they will be blackballed from the industry?
In a way, it's lucky for me that it took me so long to break into the comic biz. I avoided getting mixed up with this clown. It may take me longer to get ahead, but at least I'm not part of some code of silence that results in more innocents getting screwed and be expected to take it.