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The State of the Universe
20,000 Subscribers and then some.
It’s a holiday weekend here in the States, which is a great time to take a pause from the hectic pace of what we do, and reflect a bit on where things are, and where they’re going. So we thought it might be a good time to do a “State of Everything” post- something we haven’t done in a minute due to the above-mentioned hectic pace.
And to be sure, there are a few big things worth celebrating here in year 2 so far.
For starters, we’ve greatly increased our comics output with the addition of ACADEMY and THE VALLARS. That was our biggest goal for the year and we’re happy about the progress we made there- even as we aim higher. The reality is creating comics at this volume can be difficult, expensive, and time-consuming- especially when you’re trying to keep the quality standard high- but we’re committed to making sure your subscription is worthy of your hard-earned dollars. We’re excited we’re getting to a place where people can reasonably count on getting comics from us 2-3 times a week (and hopefully some day soon, even more).
Another area we’re proud of is something that just wrapped: our year 2 subscriber rewards. After the incredible response to last year’s offerings, we wanted to make sure we not only cleared that bar but set a new one. And with the [MAPS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook, THE VALLARS Preview Edition, the ACADEMY Sunday Edition, the deluxe print set from Mike del Mundo and Mike Huddleston, The Compass and The Card, we feel like we hit the mark there- and certainly your enthusiasm has proven that out. Now comes the marathon sprint to complete production there and get those items in your hands.
The same goes for the launch of Emporia, our new web store, with a grand opening that exceeded all expectations. We’re pleased to note we had almost no hiccups in terms of fulfillment and delivery and we made major progress in driving the shipping rates down, but we’re working to make the next drop (coming VERY soon) even better.
Finally, we crossed another big milestone in terms of the community we’ve built- we are proud to say we now have over 20,000 Subscribers, with growth accelerating over the last few months considerably. That’s, frankly, incredible.
But beyond all that, in the bigger picture, it’s exhilarating to see this whole project move closer and closer to a new phase. THE THIRTEEN QUESTIONS prototype is a cool glimpse of that, but there’s so much more happening behind the scenes on that front that we can’t wait to share with you. From the beginning, we wanted to use this canvas to tell create worlds and tell stories in new ways. The ambition and the scope of that takes time to realize, but we can see the horizon ahead clearly now, and the future looks bright.
And with that, we have a lot of news to break about how exactly that future is shaping up, and how it related to where we’ve been:
First up, we’re saying a very special goodbye today, as Editor in Chief Stephen Wacker is leaving the team to pursue an exciting new venture he’s had in the works for a long time now. Stephen was the first person to join us after the core group, and it goes without saying his impact on what we’ve built here has been transformative and invaluable. We simply would not be where we are today without Steve’s help, and for that, we’ll be eternally grateful- but we always knew our time with him would be limited, and we’re thrilled for him and wishing him nothing but the best as he takes on a new challenge. We’re gonna miss you, Steve.
Now, replacing one of the best editors in comics in no easy challenge, in and of itself. Not to mention, everything we’re doing has grown quite a bit since Steve came aboard, and as we said above, it’s going to get quite a lot bigger in the months and years ahead. So we quickly realized it was time to expand the team in a meaningful way- and today we’re thrilled to announce who will be leading our efforts going forward.
On the creative and editorial front- the lifeblood of everything we do- Molly Mahan will steering the ship. Molly has worked in storytelling across a myriad of mediums and genres, beginning as an intern at the talent and literary agency Verve in Los Angeles. In 2013, she made her first foray into comics as an assistant editor at Dynamite Entertainment. After two storied years of editing such titles as Red Sonja, Legenderry, and Swords of Sorrow, she joined DC Comics, where she edited the mature reader imprints, including DC’s Young Animal, Black Label, and—-her most proud accomplishment—-launching The Sandman Universe line for Vertigo.
In 2019, Molly shifted to broadened her craft expertise when she joined Riot Games to edit prose, comics, and lead new Champion creation for the company’s flagship game, LEAGUE OF LEGENDS.
But, in addition to the creative side-work we’re doing on the books themselves, so much of what we do is about this place: the community we’ve built around the project- and leading the charge there will be Rob Levin.
Rob is a producer, consultant, writer, and editor. He began his career as an editor with Top Cow Productions in 2004 where he became Vice President–Editorial and oversaw the company’s entire publishing output. This included editing flagship titles Witchblade and The Darkness, pioneering the innovative Pilot Season initiative (which received more than 4 million votes in its initial campaign), and editing such titles as Madame Mirage, First Born and many more. In 2009 he left Top Cow to pursue freelance opportunities and founded Comic Book Consulting, which provided freelance everything from turn key comic book production services to editing and story consultation.
In 2016 he joined DC Comics, editing titles across the Batman, Justice League, and Integrated Publishing groups and working on books you’ve definitely heard of and probably read. In 2019, he joined Humanoids as Senior Editor, working on a mix of original graphic novels, bandes dessinées, and monthly titles for release in both the US and France. In 2021 he became the Executive Editor at Valiant Entertainment, steering the company’s shared universe and ensuring publishing, media, and interactive departments were aligned in their approach. In 2022 he formed Authentic Impostor, Inc. to cover his work across interactive, comic books, film, and television.
And obviously, as we’ve grown here in the digital space, we’re expanding in other ways, as well- our printed and published initiative most especially, whether through our new webstore, our subscriber rewards, or even some other things you don’t know about yet. To help us there, Hank Kanalz is joining the team with a focus on all things publishing and operational.
Hank Kanalz is a Senior Executive with over 35 years of strategic and creative experience in the entertainment industry. He is a versatile leader specializing in content strategy and development, operations, acquisitions, and business development in the entertainment media and publishing industries. In addition to being a part of the birth of Image Comics- creating the iconic “i” logo and co-writing Youngblood #1- he served as Director, Worldwide Theme Park Licensing for Warner Bros. and was a Senior Vice President at DC Comics for more than 15 years, leading their digital efforts, Vertigo, and most recently as SVP, Publishing Strategy & Support Services. He is currently the Publisher of Clover Press.
Finally, Nick Spencer will also be a part of the core team going forward, working on a number of projects and initiatives. Nick’s been heavily involved since day one behind the scenes, while he was leading the Substack Comics initiative that got all this started. Before that, you know him from writing best-selling runs on Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America, critically acclaimed books like Superior Foes of Spider-Man and The Fix, and early creator-owned breakout hits Morning Glories and The Infinite Vacation.
With this team in place, we feel confident in saying that 2023 and 2024 will be even bigger and better than what’s come before. And that’s all because of you, and your continued support. Here’s a little bit of what you can expect in the near-term.
Directly ahead, we’ve got the finals for [THE COMPETITION], our scriptwriting talent showcase. And once the winners are revealed, we’ll get to the really good part- bringing their stories to life.
After that is the impending return of THE VALLARS to its regular Thursday schedule as we bring you the back half of Book One (work on Book Two is already underway).
Much of the focus for the rest of the summer and early fall will be on [MAPS], with new stories from the likes of Ming Doyle, Caitlin Yarsky, James Stokoe, Peter Krause, Meghan Hetrick, Brent Schoonover, and our own Jonathan Hickman- but also a lot of in-depth world building posts and exclusive art.
We’ll also have a new Emporia drop with a whole new slate of offerings we think you’re going to love.
Beyond those, we’ll have big announcements regarding our Sunday [SERIAL] feature (and the continuation of ACADEMY with Steve Epting), as well as a special new project that grows out of THE VALLARS.
Oh, and we’ll be announcing some incredible new collaborators to the universe who are going to be telling their own stories. VERY excited about who’s coming on board for that.
So yeah, gonna be a lot of fun coming your way.
Thank you again for being a part of this, and for all your continued support. It means the world to us. For those of you in the States, have a great holiday. We’ll see you soon.