The comics-corner of the internet is abuzz with chatter around Substack, a platform that offers writers an opportunity to create paid newsletters and exclusive content with options for monthly and annual subscriptions. Why all the commotion? Well, they just landed a fistful of top-tier comic talent, including the recent Eisner award-winning author of Batman, Nice House on the Lake, Something is Killing the Children, and Department of Truth (just to name a few): James Tynion IV.
With the COVID pandemic shuttering the world for most of 2020 and causing further complications with fresh variants in 2021, the virtual experience has taken center stage. From concerts to university courses, board games to, well, comics…people are finding ways of enjoying their hobbies without needing to connect in person.
While the digital vs. analog debate has been raging in comics long before Substack’s announcement, this massive investment in landing some of the most recognizable creators in comics is going to force many fans to begin exploring the digital landscape, or risk missing out on new series from their favorite creators.
The extremely generous conditions of the contract (creators get 100% of all subscription revenue for their first year, then Substack takes a humble 10% in the 2nd year and beyond) are also helping to amplify Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie’s claim that they’re betting big on comic creators. The question is, will it be enough to shift the industry?
There is already discussion of a move from ownership to usership as subscription-based services continue to grow in popularity, but time will tell if it will take root within the broader comic industry.
In the meantime, we’re certainly curious to see fans reactions, and have already reached out to Substack for further comment! Watch this space!