Substack signs a slate of big-name comics creators

·Associate Editor
·2 min read

After jumping into comics earlier this year, Substack is entering in a bigger way by signing several major creators to its platform, the New York Times has reported. The new slate of writers includes Saladin Ahmed, Jonathan Hickman, Molly Ostertag, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, with other writers and artists to be announced at a later date. 

As with other Substack writers, comics creators will send their work out in a newsletter format and charge subscribers directly for their work. During the first year, they'll be paid by Substack which will take most of the subscription revenue, and after that, the platform will take a 10 percent cut. Creators will retain ownership of all their materials.

Tynion IV, who recently won the Eisner award for his work on DC's Batman and other titles, said he'll work on Substack exclusively. "This wasn’t an easy decision," he told the NY Times. "In order to invest my time in new material, I needed to choose. I could not do both."

DC had presented me with a three-year renewal of my exclusive contract, with the intent of me working on Batman for the bulk of that time. I was grateful of the offer, but I couldn’t help but look at the success of my original, creator owned titles and wonder if it was the right choice.

Substack first got into comics back in June when it signed Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man writer Nick Spencer. Spencer reportedly spearheaded the idea and was the liaison between Substack and newly signed creators. On top of comic book stories, they'll publish, essays, how-to guides and other content on the platform.

Until recently, Substack has mostly focused on newsletters covering politics, technology and more. Comics, meanwhile, have been around forever on the web, but have largely been funded by ads and merchandise sales. By joining with Substack, creators will be able to engage directly with readers in a model that more closely resembles comic book sales. 

In his Substack launch post, Tynion said that he effectively turned down a three-year renewal of his DC Batman contract when Substack signed him "to create a new slate of original comic book properties directly on their platform, that my co-creators and I would own completely," he wrote. "I’m going to dedicate my whole brain to building a bunch of really cool stuff on my own terms, without having to get permission from any publisher to make it."