Subscription-Based Web Comic: Mr. Valdemar and Other Gothic Tales

I love new adaptations of classic works of Gothic literature, especially those that bring the stories into a new medium. Mr. Valdemar and Other Gothic Tales does exactly that by adapting short horror stories into webcomic form. The title of this webcomic series takes its name from an Edgar Allan Poe story, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” and will feature stories by Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, W. W. Jacobs, and many more. The project aims to adapt as many classic short stories as possible, posting one new page per week. The scripts are written by Jose Luis Bueno Piña, and each story has a different artist. These days, many webcomic creators are moving to a subscription-based model, and Mr. Valdemar and Other Gothic Tales is no different. The only way to get full access to these stories is to support the project on Patreon.

Patreon is a popular crowdfunding platform where patrons can pledge a small dollar amount per month to their favorite creators. In return, patrons receive special rewards and bonus content. In the case of Mr. Valdemar and Other Gothic Tales, only subscribers who pledge $3 or more can read a story in its entirety. Pledging larger amounts can get you early access to new pages, high quality artwork, exclusive portraits by the artists, skype sessions with the creators, your name and photo in the credits, and even the opportunity to choose the next tale to be adapted! In addition, the more money the Patreon raises, the more stories they can afford to adapt. As it stands, they currently plan to adapt a total of four tales.

The first of these adaptations, “The Spider” by Hanns Heinz Ewers, has already been completed. You can read most of it for free on the Duck Webcomics site, but you’ll have to subscribe to the Patreon to see the final page. The art for this story was done by El Campastela. The most unique feature of this adaptation is its minimalist script, consisting mostly of dialogue in French. In the story, an old woman runs a small hotel in Paris. Her business hits a snag when it’s discovered that one of the hotel rooms seems to be cursed: all of its occupants end up committing suicide. The reader follows a young, down-on-his luck scholar who rents the room at a discount. At night, he sees a strange but beautiful woman sitting at her spinning wheel in the window across from his. Will he be able to resist her allure or is he caught in her web as surely as the other men before him?

The second tale, W. W. Jacob’s “The Monkey’s Paw,” is one of my favorites. About half of the story has been released on Duck Webcomics so far, so now is the perfect time to hop on the Patreon bandwagon and read it to the end. The illustrations for this one are done by Jorge Juan Salida Garcés, and it’s got a very different style from “The Spider.” At the beginning of the story, a young soldier finds a mummified monkey paw and sends it home to his parents along with a promise to soon return to them himself. This he finally does, but not in the manner his parents were expecting. Is the monkey paw cursed? You’ll have to check back each week to find out! And don’t forget that you need to subscribe in order to read the last page.

What do you think of this subscription model for webcomics, especially this unusual technique of withholding only the final page for subscribers? Would you pledge to a project like this? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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