Digital comics

Madefire, a digital comics startup with an eye on virtual reality, raises $6.5 million – TechCrunch

Just in time for New York Comic-Con, Madefire announces that it has raised $6.5 million in Series B funding.

Madefire co-founder and CEO Ben Wolstenholme said the funding – led by Santa Monica-based Plus Capital – will help his company establish more connections with the media and entertainment world. It’s not that Madefire (which previously raised $6.3 million from investors including True Ventures) lacked those relationships entirely before, but Wolstenholme said the company is “moving from building technology” to building a large library of content.

The company connected Madefire with some of the other big names that ended up investing in the B-series, including Kevin Spacey (!) and Drake (!!). Visual effects studio Framestore also participated in the round – Wolstenholme said Framestore will create Madefire-specific content.

“I believe the Madefire team is visionary, building a platform that creates impactful ways to tell stories,” Plus Capital founder and managing partner Adam Lilling said in a statement. “At Plus, we believe Madefire has one of the best platforms for creators to introduce and experiment with their IP, and to tailor their audience so creators can have more control over their future. “

While Comixology (now owned by Amazon) remains the best-known platform for digital comics, Madefire is trying to do something a little different. Instead of just bringing printed comics to digital formats with minimal changes, it adds animation, sound effects, and music to the mix.

The company describes the resulting product as an animated book — not exactly the same as the animated comics publishers have experimented with in the past. Wolstenholme pointed out that despite the multimedia bells and whistles, Madefire’s motion books should always be an active reading experience, not a passive viewing experience, the main distinction being that the text is not simply replaced by a Voice off.

“We want to be the best book, not the worst video,” he said.

Madefire began publishing its own titles (including Wolstenholme’s own book, Mono), but now works with well-known comic book publishers like DC, IDW and Kodansha – Wolstenholme said he’s on track to have over 40,000 books in the store by the end of the year. year. Madefire too launched a product called Motion Book Publisherallowing comic book publishers to create their own storefronts and apps, and it’s even worked with Apple to create a comic book explaining the new App Store review guidelines.

Wolstenholme added that the broader goal is to create a “native digital experience”, whether on phones, tablets or internet-connected TVs. In fact, the new funds are intended, in part, to fund an expansion into virtual reality and augmented reality, although Wolstenholme said it was too early to give details.