The Death of Substack Comics

The Death of Substack Comics

Nick Spencer apparently is no longer in charge at Substack Comics.

He was the guy in charge of the machine that was built around throwing high-speed comics shit at the wall and hoping it would stick.  He is now back to being just a writer.

From Bleeding Cool, so don’t click on it. ////

“The Year One Substack Comics Pro deals are coming to an end, as was originally planned and the Substack Pro deals will switch from those large six-figure advance payments against subscription royalties, to no advances but with Substack taking 10% of subscription figures. This is how the deal was always promoted.

However, while Year Two creators (aside from =>Kelly Sue DeConnick<= and Matt Fraction) are soon to be named, I have been led to expect fewer numbers than before, and both the amount of deals – and size of the deals – has been significantly reduced. Substack, just like Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services, is going through a numbers crunch, in an increasingly divided competitive market that hasn’t had a shakeout yet. Substack as a whole has suffered such, with layoffs and more, but I am told that the Comics side of Substack has weathered the storm better than most of the rest of the service.”

Substack was supposed to be the lifeboat for traditional comic book creators.  They were going to step in the Substack time machine and go back to the age of permanent six-figure salaries for 36-hour work weeks, not including lunch and Twitter breaks to shriek at conservatives.

It was always a lifeboat with a pretty big hole in it.  

Here’s the important thing.  Substack comic’s biggest failing (and there are so many to choose from but its biggest) was in the method of its delivery. It was going to be another comiXology type reader.  

The medium is the message, and this medium creates indecipherable crytoglyphs. It’s unbelievably annoying to try to read comics this way on a phone or tablet.  You keep having to tap at panels to get them to zoom or unzoom or flip to the next page.  And god help you if you want to flip back.

Comics, like any form of entertainment, needs to provide its audience with a continued immersive experience.   You need to be pulled into the story, and the comiXology reader continually pulls you out of the story to tap on things.  

This is why webtoons work better.  A thumb scroll is easy enough for you to forget you are doing it.  Easy enough to become an unconscious act and let you become immersed in the story.  Although it means the artist will have to abandon Neil Adams’s various tricks in favor of new ones.  Comic books had to be read as books whereas webtoons need to be read as a continuous tapestry. Again, the medium is the message.

So, once again people who are old enough to know better are finding out that something that was too good to be true… Was. Not.

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