Substack becomes a comic haven with big paydays and ownership rights
The Future. Substack is crafting a narrative as the top destination where comic creators can not only make a massive paycheck, but also retain all their story rights. If the platform is successful, it could lead to two outcomes: a wealth of bold projects that will be snapped up by Hollywood for adaptation and/or a reckoning for mid-level publishers like Dark Horse and Boom! Studios, who may now need to reevaluate their pitch to creators.
Substack is positioning itself as the next Marvel or DC… by wooing away their talent.
- Substack is leveraging its $30 million war chest to pay comics creators hefty up-front fees for writing comics exclusively for the newsletter platform.
- During the first year of deals, Substack will take 85% of the revenue from paid subscriptions, with creators taking the rest. After the first year, Substack will only take 10%.
- Additionally, creators maintain full control of the intellectual property (IP) they create for the platform, meaning that creators are free to option the work for film and TV adaptations.
Substack’s gambit is already paying off. Top talent such as Batman writer James Tynion IV left DC for Substack. He scored a $500K upfront fee and revenue from his upcoming $7/month subscription fee.
The Substack comics division is masterminded by Nick Spencer, a comic writer himself, who has worked on both The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America. Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie says that Spencer has “actually lived the experience as a comics creator and fully understands the perspective and needs of his peers in the industry.”
With the entertainment industry at large moving into a direct-to-consumer model, Substack isn’t the only player in town trying to assemble creators. Amazon recently launched ComiXology (which has already put two projects into series development on Prime), and Kickstarter has made a strong case as a home for talent who don’t want a middle man.
With comic and graphic novel sales hitting $1.28 billion (a 6% increase year-over-year), there’s a lot of money for everyone to make.