I spent $300 on a Comic Book Substack

I am posting links to news on how the comic book market has/is evolving. The pandemic has put so many uncertainties into the marketplace. So check that post out as I reference information there in this post. I am also working on a new comic book series myself, so this is part of my research.

What Substack is doing with comics is a lot like (Ok, exactly the same as) Patreon, except they started in newsletters by popular journalists/bloggers.

So when some of the most popular comic creators all got these big Substack deals (rumor is some of them are getting up-fronts of $500K) to NOT sign exclusive contracts with DC or Marvel and to start a Substack where they own 100% of their original ideas AND they can still work for the Big 2 publishers, it sounded just too good a deal to pass-up for them.

There is a lot of context and history with comic book creators and publishers that I will get into later if interested.

And now that I, along with at least 1000 others, went in for either a $300 a year Substack or one of the cheaper tiers this, it appears these comic creators are going to see potentially just under a million dollars in revenue doing what they love.

Yes, this is the Creator Economy at work.

So I signed up for one of the Substack’s from creators that I enjoy the work of. This is the KLC Press team of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman (with John J Hill) a team that made a commercial success for Marvel by revitalizing the Venom comic series as well as other projects.

The Substack itself is a newsletter of what they are working on plus JPGs of the comic sent to my inbox in different lengths as they are completed. Although it’s weird to read a comic in 3–4 page chunks, it also feels like you are getting fresh slices of pizza or at the least feel like the editor at a big publisher getting pages in to preview.

From what I understand, it seems I get limited edition physical comics alongside the digital comics. I have long ago moved to digital with the advent of the first iPad — I love Comixology and Shonen Jump Weekly and Kindle, but I have started collecting “floppies” again as I enjoy the experience of going to a store and the community aspect plus the hunt for the rare graded comics of my youth.

So as a GOAT for this Substack, besides of course getting a bunch of newsletters I get:

  • Digital copies of 3 new series as they’re produced.
  • Monthly video chat hangouts and podcasts with Donny and Ryan and Megan and assorted comic book friends!
  • Livestreams, sketch creation and instructional videos from Ryan Stegman.
  • Script creation, ranting and raving from Donny Cates.
  • A lottery ticket to WIN sketches drawn live by Ryan Stegman
  • “EXCLUSIVE access to merchandise ONLY YOU can purchase!!”
  • 8 physical copies of the comics #1 issues with exclusive covers only available to Substack subscribers.

So essentially I am pre-ordering 3 new series from these creators and getting 8 fancy exclusive covers that will no doubt go for a few bucks more on the secondary market meanwhile supporting creators I enjoy their mainstream work and hopefully can translate to non-corporate heroes (not everyone can do it sometimes we love the creator and the Marvel character equally and they are symbiotic.)

The flow of content is pretty good so far, and if you love these creators then you will get the vibes you are hanging out with them as they are making comics. A lot like Discord servers for YouTube and Twitch streamers but in producing an actual physical product.

The biggest question I have for this is what if my favorite superstar comic creators come into this — people like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Mike Mignola, Paul Pope, Arthur Adams — that is more $300+ subs. Where do I draw the line? Do I draw a line?

  • Will they be able to get more subscribers as they go and release more stuff or is there a ceiling?
  • What is the highest number of subs a comic creator could hit?
  • Will it be like some Substack newsletters that get 100,000 free subs and get 10% to pay for them?
  • Will they break the $300 into quarters instead of all-at-once?
  • How does FOMO play in to this?
  • If these digital comics get shared to other places, does the value of the Substack decline or increase?

So far, I think it’s great and a strong move for the comic book creator community. Definitely bookmark this list of links for the latest news on this space in all its permutations.

Follow me on Medium for more free updates on this industry.

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Casey Lau

Casey Lau

thoughts on everything from startup ecosystems, conferences, anime, video games, comic books, digital entertainment to cats and ninjas.

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