It seems that Salon.com may be going out of business. I have to say I used to like Salon, but was never a subscriber. $30 a year or even $18.50 with ads is a bit much a web magazine. Many real magazines cost less than that a year, and people are used to paying for magazines.
On the web, it seems that that doesn't work as well. There are numerous web magazines out there many that are actually free. However, to me it seems strange how moderntales.com seems to be almost thriving. Then again, maybe salon had more overhead, it is said to have had over a hundred staff members, and probably paid the writers a fixed salary. Also, in the article, it notes that their landlord is asking for $200,000 in unpaid rent. Not wonder even 60,000 people at $6 a month, and ads for everyone else, couldn't save them.
Contrast this with moderntales.com where people subscribe and the cartoonists and moderntales split the cash. So if noone subs, the cartoonists get jack. I guess the 70% goes to cartoonists may be an attractant too, not to mention indy folks like Kochalka, Hernandez and Donna Barr contributing to the site.
Also, a problem with web media in general is perceived value. You have to give people something that they'll pay for. For most web businesses, this has been pictures of blondes with fake breasts doing sexual acts. Business people would say that people buy $5 for a magazine a month, but Salon's $6 a month came at the cost of a magazine's portability, thickness and the ability to use them to prop up chair legs. Not to mention the thousands of other web magazines for free.
However, American comics are $3 for 22 pages. However, on Modern Tales, there are nearly 40 creators doing weekly strips. Not exactly a Shonen Jump esqe bargain( $5 for 300 pages nearly) but certainly better than the market price. However, there are many free online comics. I guess some people may be attracted to Modern Tale's quality control. While not all of them are good, at least most of them look like someone could plausibly think that person could write something half way acceptable and draw something pretty ok, even if they aren't doing it right now.
While this random analysis may not have been very decisive or useful, well, you get what you pay for.