Also worth noting is that even this picture isn’t the complete picture. The digital numbers, for example, are specifically referring to what Miller and Griepp call “digital download” – which means that it’s overlooking the revenue from subscription services like Marvel Unlimited and DC Universe Infinite (two proprietary systems that I sincerely doubt we’ll ever get any insight into the finances of), as well as Substack newsletters****, or even publishers that sell digitally directly to customers like Vault Comics
. It’s unclear just how much money isn’t factoring into the digital picture right now – or even if it would make any appreciable difference in the grand scheme of things – but I’d be curious to see how it could impact the relatively flat digital growth numbers year-on-year moving forward.
Even without that, there’s the simple, blunt reality that comics really aren’t dying by any appreciable measure of things. But if everyone were to accept the reality of that, what would we have to complain about, week in, week out?
* I’m sure that everyone who was online at the turn of the century and shortly thereafter can remember the wholehearted conviction of those loudly declaring the death of the “floppy” and what it meant for the rise of graphic novels as the dominant comic book format. Delphi Forums have a lot to answer for, in so many ways, let’s be honest.
** I look forward to Dark Crisis being given the attention and care it’s due at some point in 2037. (That’s only a joke because no-one will be writing about comics in 2037; I’m very much enjoying Dark Crisis and think it’s doing a lot of things right for a superhero event in today’s reality, despite some of the brickbats I’ve seen thrown its way.)
*** Because I’m me, I also inflation adjusted the price of 1992’s Spider-Man 2099 #1 – $1.75 – to see how it compares with today. Adjusted, it would be $3.62.
**** I’m not sure I mentioned this when it was published, but the 3 Worlds 3 Moons Substack collective gave some soft subscription numbers back in May
, which offers an idea of what kind of income it’s making. “As of today, we have just under 10,000 overall subscribers, with 2300 of you supporting us financially as paid subscribers,” the group explained. “About a third of those do so at the founding level.” The founding level is $250 annually, so lets round down slightly – 750 is just under a third for 2300 – to come up with a rough estimate of $187,500 generated annually through Founding Member subscriptions. Let’s also assume that the remaining 1550 paid subscribers are doing so as annual subscribers, which generates less income than monthly subscribers. That’s an additional $124,000 annually. All told, we can guess that 3W3M is making somewhere in the region of $311,500 in its first year. 3 Worlds 3 Moons is assumed to be one of the most successful, if not the
most, so it’s not the best indicator of how the Substack program is working overall, but still useful as a high watermark.