Substack is jumping into comics publishing. The site, which has traditionally offered newsletter-style subscriptions, announced a "major investment in comics creators" on Monday, intending to stretch its publishing model. This new push into comics could mark a turning point in the comics industry.
Substack said several comics creators will be publishing on the platform, including Eisner-winner and longtime Batman writer Scott Snyder and Ignatz-winner Molly Knox Ostertag, known for her writing and illustration on comics like Strong Female Protagonist (illustrator) and The Girl From the Sea (writer and illustrator). Substack has given grants to these and other creators, "to kickstart going independent and remove the risks of starting a publishing enterprise," wrote Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie in the announcement post.
Substack has already created waves in digital publishing with a subscription model that aims to give writers an audience while allowing them creative freedom over their projects. So far, it's gained popularity with topics that lend themselves to newsletter formats such as blogging and academia. Social media giants, creating their own newsletter platforms in an attempt to draw in creators and subscribers. But comics are a new universe for these publishers.
Like many industries, comics have beenfor years. Substack's investment in the space broadens its own platform, while also offering creators a new look at the creative process, away from parent companies that keep a keen eye on their intellectual property.
"The comics industry is undergoing a tremendous amount of change, and I want to experiment and try things, because I think creators making the books they WANT to make the way they want to make them is going to be the way we pave the road to the next few decades of our industry," wrote James Tynion IV, another Eisner-winner and Batman alumni who is part of Substack's initial foray into comics, in his announcement post on Substack.
Tynion IV wasn't alone in his praise for Substack's approach. In a post announcing his Comics Writing 101 course on Substack, Snyder said the platform is "literally making the biggest investment in creator owned comics in the history of the medium." That's notable praise from someone who wrote for two of DC Comics' biggest titles, Batman and Justice League.