In recent years, dozens of leading journalists, historians and essayists have tried their luck as solo practitioners on Substack, the digital newsletter platform that has built an audience of over 500,000 subscribers since its inception in 2017. Now , a number of comic book creators have decided to do the same.
Nick Spencer, a comic book author best known for his work for Marvel Entertainment, was the liaison between Substack and a group of creators who, starting Monday, will be posting new comic book stories, essays and how-to guides on the platform.
He said he approached Chris Best, a founder of Substack, with the idea last year, as the pandemic kept many fans out of comic book stores and creators looked for new ways to connect with readers.
Initial lineup includes comic-centric newsletters from Saladin Ahmed, Jonathan Hickman, Molly Ostertag, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with other writers and artists to be announced.
Creators will be paid by Substack while retaining ownership of their work. The company will take most of the subscription revenue in the first year; after that it will take a reduction of 10 percent.
Mr Tynion, who last month won an Eisner Award, the comics industry’s highest accolade, for best writer, has said he will stop writing Batman for DC Entertainment to devote time to its series belonging to its creator and to his newsletter Substack.
“It was not an easy decision,” he said. “To invest my time in new material, I had to choose. I couldn’t do both.
For his newsletter, one of his projects will be to work with artist Michael Avon Oeming on “Blue Book”, stories based on testimonies of extraterrestrial encounters.
Jonathan Hickman, who recently helped revitalize Marvel’s X-Men franchise, said he gave digital comics a lot of thought at the start of the pandemic, when distribution was temporarily halted.
“I have found that the things that you can potentially do with it are very fascinating,” he said. “I like the idea of surprising the reader again.”
For his newsletter, Mr. Hickman is working with artists Mike del Mundo and Mike Huddleston on a new series, “Three Worlds, Three Moons”, in which they will take fans through the process of building a fictional universe.
“We treat it like a bunch of guys coming together on a concept album, but we call it a concept universe,” he said.
The group approach, which will also include contributions from writers Ram V. and Tini Howard and others, will allow them to share responsibility for the newsletter. “If someone has a busy week or month, someone else can take over,” Hickman said.
Mr Snyder, a veteran comic book author who has taught creative writing at Columbia University, New York University and Sarah Lawrence College, will offer advice to aspiring comic book writers in his newsletter of information.
“I’ve always wanted to find a way to do this that would allow me to reach more students, as much as they wanted to learn from me, while keeping the cost as low as possible,” he said.
Substack newsletter editors choose whether subscriptions are free or paid. Subscriptions typically start at $ 5 per month. Prominent Substack writers include Hollywood writer Richard Rushfield, historian Heather Cox Richardson, economist Emily Oster and former Slate advice columnist Danny Lavery.