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Grant Morrison, Tom King, and Jen Bartel are the next comic creators to pivot to Substack

Saga’s Brian K. Vaughan will also team up with Niko Henrichon on a new project

Grant Morrison speaks on stage at a comics convention Photo: Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Email newsletter platform Substack is continuing its push into comics publishing with the announcement that six more high-profile creators will use the service to launch new subscription-supported projects this year. New publications from the first wave of creators to sign to the platform have also been announced for 2022.

The creators joining Substack for the first time are headed by Scottish comics legend Grant Morrison, with a new independent publication. Saga and Y: The Last Man writer Brian K. Vaughan will team up again with Pride of Baghdad artist Niko Henrichon for a new joint project.

Batman writer Tom King will collaborate on a new comic with French artist Elsa Charretier, while hot cover illustrator Jen Bartel and artist Khary Randolph will both launch solo projects. Finally, among the new signings, manga podcast Mangasplaining will launch a Substack.

Then there are the new comics from creators who launched their Substacks last year. Jeff Lemire, whose Sweet Tooth was recently adapted into a Netflix series, will be bringing the universe of his Dark Horse series Black Hammer to Substack in some form. James Tynion IV, who published Blue Book on Substack as part of its first wave of signings, will release the first chapter of his new graphic novella The Closet to his subscribers. Jonathan Hickman’s collaborative new comics universe 3 Worlds / 3 Moons will be getting two new titles, and Hawkeye and Captain Marvel writer Kelly Thompson will launch the first issue of her new book The Black Cloak on Substack, with art by Meredith McClaren.

Substack is attempting to lure comics creators away from DC and Marvel with the same pitch that has drawn big-name journalists and writers to its service (sometimes assisted by substantial signing fees): own the rights to your work, and charge readers for it directly. This pitch has an obvious appeal in the comics community, where creator ownership and remuneration remain hot topics. “I’d been looking for some way to be able to post my comics on a platform that I had more control over,” She-Ra and the Princesses of Power showrunner Noelle Stevenson told Polygon last year.

Tynion, launching Blue Book, was emphatic about the potential he sees in Substack as a comics platform. “I don’t think there’s ever been a better deal in comics than what Substack is offering,” he said. “We have complete creative control, we retain all of the rights for publishing and other media with no restrictions, and we have the money to pay people the kind of rates they might expect at one of the larger corporate publishers … this could be the start of a whole new paradigm in creator-owned comics.”