Substack made a big splash last month with announcements that big-name creators like James Tynion IV, Donny Cates & Ryan Stegman, Molly Knox Ostertag, and more have all signed deals with the online publisher to create paid newsletters and exclusive digital comics on the platform. Today Substack added another noteworthy creator to their roster, as Eisner-winning cartoonist Adrian Tomine has been named Substack’s first writer-in-residence for the month of October.
In his inaugural post, Tomine describes how he used to try to diligently and thoughtfully respond to everyone who sent him fan mail or comments about his work, and how he hopes to use his Substack residency to “get back on track” in a more meaningful way than just responding to Instagram comments on his phone. He also teases what’s to come in the newsletter over the next month, with a look at his various different projects, what materials he typically uses, and answers to frequently-asked questions.
Unlike other creators who’ve signed deals with Substack, Tomine’s newsletter, which he says he plans to send twice a week, does not include any paid tiers. An exclusive announcement for the writers residency program on Axios describes the intended purpose of the program:
The company hopes that the residency program will “enrich the entire Substack community” by providing creators and readers with a person to learn from as they launch a new project from scratch, per Hanne Winarsky, Head of Writer Development at Substack.
It does not sound like Tomine will be sharing any new or exclusive finished work in the same way other creators with Substack deals are, but what he does have planned for the newsletter sounds extremely appealing from a process standpoint. Tomine, who is naturally being paid to participate in the residency program by Substack, says once the program is over he’ll be free to continue the newsletter – and to keep the list of subscribers who signed up during the residency.
Substack’s entry into the comics world has been a controversial one, given the platform’s past financial support of figures who regularly spout anti-transgender rhetoric to their subscribers. Some of the comics creators who have signed deals with Substack have responded to the controversy with promises that their spaces will be free of that hate-speech thanks to Substack’s lack of an algorithm putting outside content into subscribers’ feeds, and that if that situation changes they will walk away from the platform. The Substack comics movement seems to be forging ahead regardless of the controversy, though, and the naming of Tomine as their first writer-in-residency looks like a clear signal that they’re committed to comics, at least for the time being.
You can subscribe to Adrian Tomine’s free Substack newsletter now.