Where We're At (10,000 Subscribers)
And where we're going.
This has been an exciting month for us on a few fronts. As part of Free Comics Day on Substack, we released our preview edition of THE VALLARS, our upcoming ongoing comic with art by Jason Howard and colors by Frank Martin.
We announced two special offers, as well. 15% off new annual subscriptions through May 23rd:
And we announced we have a few additional copies of the [SYSTEMS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook Deluxe Hardcover available in the print run for those who sign up or upgrade to the Founding level. These are going fast, so reserve yours now:
But this month also marked 9 months since we launched this project; so it was a natural time to take an inventory of what we’ve learned, where we stand, and what we still need to do. We do that pretty regularly, but it occurred to us it might fun to bring you in on it this time. In the same way that we’re building this universe in front of you, maybe some of you might want to see how we look at the business behind it.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
The biggest thing we’ve learned is this can work.
There was nothing about what we set out to do here that wasn’t audacious. The idea of not just publishing comics a completely different way, but also creating the comics in a new way that let the readers in from the start.
But we also learned this requires an enormous amount of work. This most closely resembles self-publishing in comics; you only get back what you put into it. There is no idle on this, it demands a level of engagement that’s not like anything we’ve done before.
So we learned the value of good partnerships. We hired one of the best in the business, Stephen Wacker, as our Editor-In-Chief to help us build everything and most especially to get the comics out there and looking good. We teamed up with the folks at Zoop to help us with our printed and shipped rewards.
Everything about this has taught us something. About what our audience expects, about what we can do better. But that’s part of the fun.
WHERE WE STAND
As of today, we have just under 10,000 overall subscribers, with 2300 of you supporting us financially as paid subscribers. About a third of those do so at the founding level.
That amazing level of support from you means we have a very solid foundation to start from; we can say with confidence we will be able to carry on with this into year two.
That was not a given when we started this. It’s a huge, huge deal, and we only have you to thank for it. We are incredibly grateful for every dollar of this support, and determined to make this worthy of your hard-earned money.
To be at a number like this in less than year is something we’re enormously grateful for. We’ve seen our growth accelerate recently— we’ve actually seen our growth double each of the last three months— and our churn (subscriber loss) diminish sharply.
These are all encouraging signs that what 3W/3M is building is resonating, that there’s a real hunger for something new and bold in comics. “Play something different” was how we said to back on day one. And to us, there’s no question— something special is happening here.
But there’s still a lot more to be done.
WHAT WE STILL NEED TO DO
While the above-mentioned number may sound like a lot, every dollar of it is going back into the project itself, to make more books, hire more creators, offer bigger and better rewards. We keep our overhead lean. We have one full-time employee, our EIC Stephen Wacker.
The truth is everything we do is based on scale. It was your early support that made it feasible for us to expand our rewards to include the printed [SYSTEMS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook. The more support we get, the more we can offer back, it’s as simple as that. We want to expand those rewards in year two, offering even more in the way of printed, shipped items. And we use the best printers and highest quality paper when we make those.
We also want to dramatically expand our comics offerings and hire more creators. We pay industry-leading rates to our contributors, because we believe in the value of their work.
And yes, in the coming months and year, we’ll move more and more from our “concept universe” phase into more ongoing narratives, as you’re already seeing with THE VALLARS. Those projects are inherently more time-consuming and expensive.
But man, are they worth it. Here’s a look at something from Mike Huddleston on that very subject…
Beyond all that, there are more things we’re working on, to make all this truly interactive, to give you a chance to be a part of not just the journey to create this world… but the world itself. And once that starts, we have a feeling this is really going to take off.
In order to do all this, though, we need to keep growing. That’s why we’re asking you to consider becoming a paid subscriber today. We truly believe we’re building something new, the next great comics universe- and we want you to be a part of it. Let’s do this together.
And if you’re already a paid subscriber, first off, thank you again- but what we’d ask is: tell some people. Help us get the word out about this. Whether it’s on social media, at your shop, on the phone- if you know of someone you think might be interested in what we’re building here, let them know. If you’re feeling especially generous, give them a gift subscription:
Finally, to show we’re serious about the whole escalation thing— here’s a page from something we’re not ready to announce just yet, but we’re pretty sure you’re gonna love it.
From our good friend, Jerome Opena.
Oh, and a new comic, ARENA, with art by Andy Kuhn, coming Tuesday. More soon. - 3W/3M Team