As the Twitter-sphere devolves into a series of Russian bots and pissed-off Star Wars fans, comics creators are trying something new. Or old? Technology goes in circles; sometimes it’s hard to keep track.
Rather than focusing on social media outreach, in which the aforementioned bots and villains can steer things off track, a number of creators are putting out old-school email newsletters. These newsletters, of course, promote the creators’ new books, but they also contain book recommendations, recipes, puns, slice of life stories, and a whole bunch of additional informative content. In short, they are wonderful, and I am loving them.
In the hopes of convincing these creators that their newsletters are entirely worth the time and effort put into them, I’m going to gush about them here. Hopefully, my gushing will convince you to sign up for these newsletters (or your favorite creator’s newsletter) as well.
6.19.20 Update: After several female creators shared stories of Ellis’s inappropriate conduct toward them, Ellis cancelled his newsletter. You can read Ellis’s statement on the matter here. For the purposes of this blog post, I suggest skipping down to the next section.
I *think* Ellis can be credited with starting this whole “Great Society of Newsletters” shebang. When it comes to using technology to do things, Ellis seems to always be ahead of the curve. At the very least, Ellis’s newsletter, Orbital Operations, is the first I found, and it is most definitely the newsletter that comes out most regularly (shots fired, other newsletter writers).
I’ve read a number of Warren Ellis comics in my day (Planetary, N.E.X.T.W.A.V.E, etc.) and even one of his novels. But I’m not reading any of his current books (which is my loss, I think, as The Wild Storm and Shipwreck look quite good). However, that doesn’t stop me from enjoying Ellis’s newsletter each week. I particularly enjoy the musings on time, the nature of technology, and modern society. The numerous book and podcast recommendations are also stellar.
But listen, what you’re really signing up for when you sign up for Warren’s newsletter, is the killer omelet recipes. Behold the below excerpt from the greatest Ellis newsletter:
There is a lot more to each Orbital Operations missive, as it seems Ellis thinks about more things in a week than I think about in a month. You can see a full sample and sign up for Orbital Operations here.
Never one to let a good fad pass him by (gosh, I hope that sounds tongue-in-cheek appreciative and not like I’m an asshole), The Wicked + The Divine writer Kieron Gillen has used his own newsletter to provide omelet cooking tips:
This recipe seems higher risk-higher reward than the Ellis recipe, and I have to confess, I haven’t tried it out yet.
Of the newsletters I subscribe to, Gillen’s is the second most regular, and it is also a blast. It unpacks most of his current work, acting as an extension of his Twitter, Tumblr, and writer’s notes. However, it also contains details on Gillen’s murder mystery dinner parties, miniature painting sessions, and reading list. It is, in short, a mish-mash of stuff and things, which is, y’know, how life works.
The newsletter’s most essential function, though, is allowing Gillen to analyze his groan-worthy puns and determine which ones are good and which ones are bad. This will hopefully lead to an overall increase in Gillen pun quality, benefiting all humankind.
You can sign up for Gillen’s newsletter here.
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction
The Milkfed Criminal Masterminds’ newsletter is a stone-cold bargain, acting as two newsletters for the price of one (I mean, the price is free, but … it’s still nice?).
Wife and husband team Kelly Sue DeConnick (Bitch Planet) and Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals) have mashed their missives up into one big ‘ol semi-regular tome, and it is very cool because it gives some insight into not only how THEY work, but how their relationship does:
Kelly Sue, in particular, has great advice and recommendations for HOW TO GET SHIT DONE, and I’ve stolen or adapted many of them to great effect (have you noticed that this blog keeps coming out on time?).
Kelly Sue’s portion of the newsletter has also included some great book recommendations, which I am waiting to arrive in my library-based e-reader (turns out they are popular, or at least semi-popular, books).
But if you’re here because comics newsletters promise to include essays about the idea of comics and what they are and what they can be, don’t worry. Fraction’s got you covered.
Assuming you are into all this wonderful goodness, you can sign up for the Milkfed Criminal Masterminds newsletter here.
We’re approaching less-regular newsletter territory here, but that’s okay, as it means each email that arrives in your inbox is a special treat! Ed Brubaker’s a very busy man who has mostly left us comics fans behind for the glory of Hollywood (again, all derisiveness in this post comes from a place of humor and love), but he still manages to find the time to dash a letter off every now and then.
In addition to promoting his own material, Brubaker links to essays and other work from his friends and peers. These two essays about games, in particular, are worth a read if you’re into that sort of thing (like I am):
Brubaker’s latest newsletter (as of this writing) also included a sneak peek at the upcoming graphic novel My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, which looks like it will continue the run of Brubaker-Phillips greatness.
If you’re so inclined, you can sign up for Brubaker’s newsletter here.
Ryan North’s Secret Pals Club is by far the coolest-titled newsletter I am signed up for, and it delivers on its promise. Not only does North’s newsletter make you privy to his new book announcements well before the rest of the world (after all, you are his secret pal), but it also includes fun, secret stories that only you, RYAN’S SECRET PAL, get to know.
For example, the latest edition of Secret Pals Club tells the story of the time Ryan got to see the original pages for Amazing Fantasy #15, which contain a lot of weird details and surprises!
North’s put out two letters since starting up his newsletter last April, which is exciting because it means you can get in on the ground floor before the inevitable in-jokes about omelets begin! To sign up for the Secret Pals Club newsletter, click here.
I’m signed up for a couple additional newsletters, but holy smokes I’ve already hit 1,000 words. I’m sure you can find the others by Googling around some. If your favorite creator has a newsletter that I didn’t list here, please leave a sign-up link in the comments below, as I’m willing to sign up for as many of these things as there are out there in the world. Until next time, may your favorite creator’s newsletter arrive on time.