Move over, Substack — there’s another new comics player in town. Zestworld is a newly-announced subscription platform for comics that will launch in early 2022, and that will give creators greater control of the rights to their creations as they’re developed across other media. Along with the announcement of the platform, Zestworld also teased its first series, The Awakened, co-written by Alex Segura and Michael Moreci and illustrated by Dean Kotz and Jason Wordie. The rest of the initial announced slate of creators who’ve received advances from Zestworld includes Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Phil Jimenez, Eric Canete, and Peter Tomasi.
Beyond The Awakened, other announced Zestworld projects will include a collaboration from Palmiotti & Conner on “Booty Powpow, an immortal woman from ancient times who wakes up in the present day.” Palmiotti is also writing another project, Found, with artist Juan Santacruz. Jimenez has also tweeted that he will be reviving his creator-owned Vertigo series Otherworld on the platform.
Zestworld is founded by Chris Giliberti, who until June of this year was the head of TV and Film at Spotify. Before Spotify Giliberti was with Gimlet Media where he founded Gimlet Pictures, and served as an executive producer for projects including the Amazon Prime series Homecoming. While there he was also featured on Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list. On Twitter Giliberti described his vision for the new comics platform:
Put simply: we’re a digital platform for comic book creators. A place they can share their creator-owned work directly with fans on email newsletter and build a sustainable business. Put more ambitiously: we think the entire comics industry needs an overhaul. From events to collectibles and IP, we want to improve it all.
Giliberti also described the philosophy behind Zestworld to the New York Times:
“In setting out to build this, we started with the problem statement that this industry is broken for creators; and it’s broken in publishing and TV and film; it’s also broken in events and collectibles,” Chris Giliberti, the founder and chief executive officer of Zestworld, said during a recent telephone interview. “We wanted to build something that’s useful across all areas of their business — anywhere they generate income.”
Giliberti is backed by VC firm Seven Seven Six, which was founded by a trio of former Reddit executives/employees including Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. As the Times reports, Ohanian was also an early investor in Patreon.
The comics landscape continues to evolve in terms of how comics are consumed and how they’re created, and given the big splash Substack made earlier this year with their announcements of projects from high-profile creators including James Tynion IV, Chip Zdarsky, and ND Stevenson, it’s no surprise that another company with VC money behind it would want to try to replicate that. The jury’s still out on how sustainable it will be for either the companies fronting the cash or the creators working with them, but at the very least it’s giving creators an opportunity to try new things relatively risk-free in the short term, and that can only be a good thing.
No details yet on how much Zestworld subscriptions will cost, or what they will cover, so keep an eye out for that.