Zestworld, a new comics platform, has just announced their official launch, and a $9.73 million round of funding.
Both the investors and creators involved are A-listers all the way.
Creators involved include Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Peter J. Tomasi, Eric Canete, Phil Jimenez and Alex Segura among many others.
The series A round of funding was led by General Catalyst, with participation from Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, Polygon Technology, former TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown Philpot, Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital and Twitch founder Kevin Lin.
(It’s not the first comics dance fo Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and Mr. Serena Williams, among many other accomplishments. He’s a lifelong comics fan, and was previously a co-founder of the webcomics merch company Breadpig.)
As previously announced, Zestworld is committed to allowing creators to maintain ownership, and the platform aims to “fracture the Marvel and DC duopoly by providing top-tier comic creators a centralized platform that combines business, community management, digital publishing, NFTs, metaverse events and IP rights management. Zestworld’s platform provides a fully stacked product tailored to the idiosyncrasies of the comics format and industry.”
Pulling apart the techworld talk, Zestworld is operating on a subscription model, somewhat along the lines of the Substack adventure. A free sub gets you “creator talk” with a $7 a month and $249 a year membership levels getting you the comics and even more goodies, respectively. Zestworld says it’s a more flexible schedule that allows creators to put out work on their own schedule without fear of “shadowbanning.”
But, as we have seen more and more over the last year or so, big tech and big media just love comics, and have no qualms about investing, especially when you wheel in the crypto battering rams. Gilberti, the CEO of Zestworld, was until recently the head of Film and TV at Spotify, so obviously he knows how to talk the talk and raise money.
“The current landscape for comic creators to publish their work digitally and connect with fans is abysmal,” said Alexis Ohanian, Founder, Seven Seven Six in a statement. “Zestworld is bringing together every aspect of the comic creator business and community into one centralized platform that is disrupting how comic creators publish and own IP, as well as enabling fans to connect with creators directly in entirely novel ways.”
“In recent years, the comic book industry has boomed, producing global hits on a scale unprecedented in the history of entertainment,” said Chris Giliberti, Co-Founder and CEO of Zestworld. “Contrast this enormous popularity and franchise value with the livelihood of the creators who invented the beloved characters that dominate our culture. It’s time we equip this community with its own dedicated platform specifically tailored to the comics medium and its fans.”
As noted, although media adaptation is the real moneymaker for comics properties, creators will keep all their rights to comics published via the Zestworld platform. The platform will also allow interaction with creators, including private livestreams, exclusive discord communities, access to behind-the-scenes opportunities and the ability to commission art directly.
“Finding platforms that are creator-driven is a true challenge in comics, and what Zestworld offers is refreshing and transparent,” said Alex Segura. “Zestworld allows creators like me to publish my work on my own schedule, customize benefits and the ways the creative team and I get to interact with my audience, and allows us to maintain full IP-rights ownership to everything we publish through the platform. It’s a hard deal to beat.”
The initial line-up of series has been announced:
ARC ATHENA by Eric Canete – “Neon Gods” to their adoring public, ARC ATHENA is the super powered team that the world is desperate for. Curated by the global tech and entertainment giant known as ARC, each member represents the most aspirational hero that public polling data can provide. Athena’s roster consists of characters whose powers are bombastically perfect for their obsessed audience but yield very low stopping force- everything is for “The Show.”
THE AWAKENED by Alex Segura, Michael Moreci, Dean Kotz, Jason Wordie – A dark, noir-ish superhero murder mystery that explores what the true definition of power is, and who should wield it.
BLOOD TREE by Peter J. Tomasi, Maxim Šimić, John Kalisz, Rob Leigh – Follows two obsessed NYPD detectives on the hunt for a vicious butcher called the Angel Killer, a sociopath who preys on the innocent family members of known murderers in order to “purify” the rest of society.
BOOM POW! by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti – An immortal is awakened from her eons-long slumber by the doughnut-slinging daughter of a nuclear physicist. Together, BOOTY POW POW and KAY BOOM take on the modern world in their own unique and special way.
FOUND by Jimmy Palmiotti, Juan Santacruz, Alex Sinclair – On a deserted island in the middle of the pacific, a volcano erupts and expels an alien object that has potential to change the world. When this event is shared live by the family of scientists already on the scene, global governments see the potential of owning the technology and scramble to see who can get to the object first.
OTHERWORLDS by Phil Jimenez – A reimagining of the Eisner-nominated Otherworld series, a sci-fi/fantasy epic about a war in another dimension, OTHERWORLDS tackles themes of family, identity, faith, and purpose, exploring whose voices will rise to shape the future and create the Earth anew, and how we all navigate a world where being “great” so rarely means being “good.”
That’s . . . a lot . . . of seed money.
Indeed it is. Average seed round these days is $5 million. Average Series A is $15 million plus. So it’s between those two. They’ll get a LOT more, especially once product market fit is confirmed.
VERY happy for all involved. They deserve it. Cheers!
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