Newsletter platform Substack’s expansion into comics is getting even bigger with a flood of new projects announced today, including some big names new to the platform. Among the projects we’ve learned of:
  • The Black Cloak, a fantasy detective story by Kelly Thompson, Meredith McClaren and Becca Carey
  • The Closet by James Tynion IV and artist Gavin Fullerton, a horror novella in three acts about a young boy who thinks there’s a monster in his closet
  • Mangasplaining, a spinoff of the podcast with new manga translations of work by Taiyo Matsomoto and more, original articles and interviews, plus podcast-related content.
  • Glass Eye Studios, a new imprint from Khary Randolph and Joanne Starer that launches with Sirens of the City, drawn by Randolph and written by Starer, a gritty urban fantasy set in 1980s New York.
In addition these projects are launching
  • From Grant Morrison In Xanaduum, a “high concept sci-fi ghost story with a sting in the tail and a big autobiographical element!” featuring art by Morrison.

  • Spectators by  Brian K. Vaughan and Niko Henrichon, a NSFW exploration of “sex and violence, and why so many of us spend so much of our lives watching both.”
  • Love Everlasting, a romance comic by Tom King and Elsa Charretier
  • The Jen Bartel Club from Jen Bartel

Interviews with some of the above here.

The Substack experiment was launched last year with comics by Tynion, Scott Snyder, Jonathan Hickman, Molly Ostertag and many more. Although the platform itself remains controversial due to the many problematic pundits it supports, the comics model has proven popular with creators. Creators are given upfront grants to support themselves and collaborators, and in return Substack takes the majority of first year subscription revenue. Comics are delivered in the newsletter format, but can also be read  on the Substack website, or, for paid subscribers, on the Panels app.  Obviouly, more creators are finding this an attractive platform to launch new projects due to Substack’s minimal interference and up-front cash.
We asked Kelly Thompson why Substack was right for Black Cloak, and she told us “I think, while trying to not be TOO cynical about the comic book industry, the reason they’re right for one another is simply that Substack gave me the literal power and freedom to even attempt it. Carving out time for creator-owned comics is hard and it takes money. And the constant hustling of WFH comics doesn’t always create those opportunities. But the Substack grant allowed me to re-team with my former collaborator Meredith McClaren on Black Cloak, free of any interference, letting us just do what we want, and what the story demands. It’s been an adventure that is at times terrifying, but so far it’s been incredibly rewarding too.”
Here’s a peak at Black Cloak:

Perhaps the most innovative new project in this Substack wave is MSX: Mangasplaining Extra which will serialize previously untranslated manga, starting with work by Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet) and Susumu Higa. Like the Mangasplaining podcast, MSX is a joint venture by Deb Aoki and Andrew and Christopher Woodrow-Butcher. A $5 subscription will be required to read the manga, but a free subscription gets you all of the non-manga content, plus previews of the manga.


According to PR, the project will allow MSX to work directly with Japanese manga creators and licensors to serialize their work in English through the Substack platform – and some titles will eventually be available later as print editions through publishing partners.

The first two MSX manga projects will be Okinawa by Susumu Higa, in partnership with Fantagraphics Books, and These Days a one-shot by Taiyo Matsumoto that’s never been published anywhere before. Additional print publishing partners will include UDON Entertainment, with titles to be announced soon.

The MSX newsletter will also include additional content for manga fans, including weekly links to new episodes of the Mangasplaining Podcast, the podcast show notes, original articles on manga and interviews with manga creators.

“We love manga, and we love all kinds of manga,” said MSX co-founder Deb Aoki. “We’re always discovering great new and classic manga that doesn’t usually get published in English, and are often left wishing that it could. Well, now we’re gonna start publishing some of these titles that we love!”

“We are creating a new way to read and enjoy manga – we’re taking a curated approach that allows us to spotlight what makes these stories special, just like how we talk about manga on our podcast.” said MSX co-founder Christopher Woodrow-Butcher. “But we’re also choosing projects that will be interesting and entertaining for both newcomers and hardcore manga fans. Mangasplaining Extra is a weekly manga magazine for people who love manga.”

MSX: Mangasplaining Extra launches today, January 31st, at


SIRENS_PREVIEW_Press (dragged)001SIRENS_PREVIEW_Press (dragged)002

Glass Eye Studios is launching with Sirens of the City but a second title, A Way from Here, written by Joanne Starer with art by GABO, will launch later, telling the story of four teenagers from different backgrounds living in Vienna in the days leading up to the Holocaust.

A subscription to the Glass Eye Substack will get the pages of both titles for free, but bonus content will be available for paid subscribers. IN an email Starer and Randolph wrote, “We’re really excited about launching, as it gives us full creative control to tell new, progressive, diverse stories. And we’re making these comics available for free to all subscribers. There will be paid tiers for people who want bonus content, but we were given a grant to do this work, and we’ve decided to use this platform to empower creators and communities that don’t always have a voice.”

Closet_01_Design-Digital Cover.jpeg
The Closet is Tynion’s second Substack project, and will run on Tynion’s Substack newsletter ($7 a month) for three roughly 30 page issues over the next few months. The comic tells the story of a young boy who believes he is tormented by a monster that lives in his closet, and the father who can’t bring himself to take his son’s fear seriously in the face of a cross-country move. It’s colored by Chris O’Halloran, lettered by Tom Napolitano, edited by Greg Lockard, with design by Dylan Todd.

“This is a story that I’ve been trying to figure out how to write for a very long time, loosely based on a recurring nightmare I had as a five-year-old moving from New York City to Milwaukee, WI.” Tynion said. “The trouble was, I always wanted to make the story a bit bigger than it had any right to be when the concept is almost too simple to hang a longform story on. It took me sitting down and realizing the shape of the uncomfortable emotions I wanted to play with in the piece, and stripping everything else away, that I finally saw the focused piece of emotional horror I was setting out to tell.”

“Shortly after I made the decision to sign with Substack, I had the idea of how to finally bring my childhood nightmare to life in a short, focused horror story.” Tynion said. “In the past, when I was predominantly working on licensed comics, having a new idea was always a little bit of a heartbreak. Knowing it would be years before I could put it to the page. But this time, I had the idea, reached out to an artist whose work I admired, and then started writing the piece in the span of a few days. THE CLOSET is the project that taught me the thrill of being a free agent for the first time in years, able to chase a fresh idea while it’s new and I’m most excited about it.”

“The set up of our story I’m sure will be familiar to many horror fans. A little boy is afraid of the monster in his closet,” said Gavin Fullerton. “But also many horror fans will know that these familiar tropes are there to guide the audience into something much much deeper. Maybe it will compel you to look into your own closet and force you to confront what you find there. Or maybe you’ll just have fun reading a spooky story. I hope you enjoy it in any case!”

We’ll have more art from the various new titles as they are announced.


  1. These sound like wonderful projects, but wake me up and let me know when they are available in beautiful oversized hardcover (or even just a TPB)

Comments are closed.