Modern Tales is a webcomics site launched on March 2, 2002 by Joey Manley, the Modern Tales publisher, and approximately 30 professional cartoonists, such as Dorothy Gambrell, author of the popular webcomic Cat and Girl and James Kochalka, the award-winning creator of Fancy Froglin. Gene Yang's National Book Award finalist American Born Chinese was originally published as a webcomic on Modern Tales. Modern Tales has also published several editions of Harvey Pekar's American Splendor comics on the web, as well as Shaenon Garrity's webcomic Narbonic.
Modern Tales is one of the first stable examples of the subscription model for webcomics and also one of the few profitable webcomic subscription websites. Several spin-off websites have emerged in its wake, including serializer, girlamatic and Graphic Smash, each featuring a different editorial focus. Publishers Weekly calls the Modern Tales family of sites the best-known pay comics sites. In June 2005, Modern Tales had about 2,000 members each paying $3 a month.; the majority of content on Modern Tales has since become free.
Joey Manley originally served as both the site's editor and publisher. Eric Burns of the Websnark blog became the editor of Modern Tales' newly announced free content in December 2005. Burns was replaced by Shaenon Garrity in August 2006.
"We're not Disney, obviously, but we have proven that people will pay for Web comics," Joey Manley said in 2003. "I want [more cartoonists] to eventually be able to make their living from Web comics."
On or around April 5, 2013, the Modern Tales site and all hosted sites were changed to a site-closure page. This page has a picture claiming to be of the Modern Tales staff as well as a message: "Thank you to all the readers, creators and miscellaneous others who were a part of this grand experiment. We did great things, and we did stupid things, and we will do both kinds of things again and again!"
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- "Modern Tales 2002-2012"