Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Turned Down Substack Comics

Recently, Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue DeConnick mentioned in their newsletter that they had been made a Substack Pro offer but were undecided on whether to take it, as many other high profile comics creators had. Estimated by Bleeding Cool to be $600,000 as an advance grant, they broke down the offer, saying;.

So the SubstackPro deal is, for as long as it lasts, the best of both worlds. Full ownership AND full rates. So you can release the book in serialized digital format through your Substack newsletter in full view of your core readers, then take that finished product to an indie publisher to put out in print, and distribute through the direct market—where many of those core supporters are likely to buy hard copies as well. With me? It's a hell of a thing for artists to get paid and keep their rights. That's an industry-changing year right there

Ed Brubaker, in his newsletter, confirmed that he and Sean Phillips had turned down a Substack offer on a similar level. He wrote;

I don't see this substack comics push as disrupting comics as they are, or hurting publishers or retailers. Other than Tynion, it looks like most of the creators doing it are just adding more work to their schedules, and still doing books for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse, etc etc. What this is is some popular creators being given money (in some cases a LOT of money) to start newsletters – much like what you're reading right now – where they also publish new comics stories in serial form as they complete them, and give you behind the scenes process stuff as well. This is not something that is aimed at taking on the big publishers or competing with comics that sell 100K in comic shops. This is creators finding their hardest-core fans that want to see books coming together and hear how the process works, and are willing to pay for that access. Not every comics reader will be interested in this, which is fine, it's not designed to appeal to every reader. It's about a small audience (anywhere from 500 to a few thousand readers) who are paying upfront to watch creators make something.

The big deal of it is the money involved, and how it's given creators a way to make some new work that they fully own, with no risk involved. But if you're just a comics reader that goes to your shop every week to buy the books you like, none of this really changes anything. All of these comics will be put out in print when they're finished. It's just that a small devoted fanbase will have already seen them first. Think of it like this, Charles Dickens serialized his novels in a weekly magazine. These novels were then printed as books  and sold many more copies than the magazines they were published in. This is simply a subscription model for serialized fiction, but having it sent to your email instead. It's that simple.

In full disclosure, I was offered a substack pro deal, but the fact is, me and Sean are already living our comics dream. We fully own everything we do, and we put it out in book form to a large audience several times a year. Still, comics is a very hard field to make a living in, especially when you want to create your own work and not do WFH comics, so I'm glad to see a bunch of creators trying something different, just like I find Patreon and Kickstarter interesting ways for creators to support their work.

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Turned Down Substack Comics
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Turned Down Substack Comics

He also dropped upcoming artwork from Reckless books 3 and 4, Destroy All Monsters, and The Ghost In You if you want to go check them out…

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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