Newsletters: They aren’t just for successful Twitter personas and fledgling media brands anymore!
On Monday, James Tynion IV, the current writer of DC Comics’ The Joker and flagship Batman, will soon wrap up his assignments with the comics publisher in order to launch a new line of creator-owned comics on Substack. Known for juggling indie projects like The Department of Truth and Something is Killing the Children with major DC tentpoles, Tynion will kickoff the newsletter with Blue Book, a series about true-life documented UFO encounters that teams him with artist Michael Avon Oeming (Powers) and letterer Aditya Bidikar (The Department of Truth). Tynion’s Substack launches in early September. It’s unclear when the writer’s run on the core DC hero books will end.
“While researching The Department of Truth, I found myself reading more and more about the strange histories of the world,” Tynion said in a news release. “The stories of people who have encountered what they can’t explain and then have to grapple with what they may or may not have seen. And reading those stories I kept having the same thought, over and over — ‘This would make a really good comic book.’ With Blue Book, I wanted to dig deeper into what I consider to be a strange cousin of the True Crime genre… Something I like to call True Weird.”
Blue Book will kick off by depicting the lives of Betty and Barney Hill, who became UFO mythology legends when they reported their abductions in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in September 1961. Tynion notes that he’ll continue his creator-owned titles The Department of Truth, The Nice House on the Lake, Something Is Killing the Children, and co-write that book’s spinoff, House of Slaughter.
“I’ve been obsessed with the ‘what if’ aspect of UFOs all my life,” Michael Avon Oeming said. “I hope drawing the true events around BLUE BOOK with James awakens that same curiosity in others.”
In the last few years, Substack has attracted numerous high-profile writers to leave legacy outlets for its creator-controlled subscription platform. In a new report, New York Times says Marvel writer Nick Spencer — currently wrapping up a long run on the company’s flagship Spider-Man title — became a liaison between major comic creators and the company, who is hoping to lure talent away from DC and Marvel. Along with Tynion, Saladin Ahmed (Black Bolt, Miles Morales: Spider-Man), Jonathan Hickman (House of X/Powers of X), and Molly Ostertag (The Girl From the Sea) will launch subscription projects. A few weeks ago, another Bat-writer, Scott Snyder, launched his own Substack newsletter as well.
Fans of Tynion’s work will be able to subscribe to his newsletter, The Empire of the Tiny Onion, for $7 a month, or for a discounted rate of $75 a year. The plan allows subscribers to read Blue Box directly in their inboxes or Substack website, and grants them access to the full library of comic titles that Tynion has planned for the platform.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a better deal in comics than what Substack is offering. 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,” Tynion said, pointing to an upfront financial guarantee provided by the Substack Pro program. “If the creators taking this deal play their cards right, it means that we can rewrite the rules of the entire comic book industry on our terms, not the publishers. I don’t think people are going to realize how big this can be right away, but if we’re smart about it, this could be the start of a whole new paradigm in creator-owned comics.”
Here’s first look art from Blue Book: