The Walking Dead Publisher Cuts Deal With Virtual Reality, Motion Comic Maker

Image Comics now available on Madefire

Image Comics, creators of The Walking Dead, Saga and Sex Criminals, is teaming up with online comic book publisher Madefire, the two announced today.

The deal, which brings a massive back catalog and all future comics from Image to Madefire’s reader starting today, also means that the reader is now home to comic’s big three: Marvel, DC and Image. More importantly, it shows both Image’s interest in future-proofing its comics and allows Madefire to start focusing 100 percent on what co-founder Ben Wolstenholme says is the next 100 years of comics.

“When a publisher comes in with us, even if it’s print books, they understand that we future-proof catalogs,” Wolstenholme tells Glixel. “We are very dedicated to creative first and digital first.

“The last 100 years of graphic fiction was amazing, but we’re focused on the next 100 years. How do we get these into everyone’s hands? What’s the next 100 years of fiction look like.”

While a bulk of Madefire’s catalog is made up of traditional comics and graphic novels that have been converted into a digital format which can be read on smartphones and digital readers, the company is best known for its work adding motion and sound to the books to turn them into motion comics. The company has also started delivering VR-empowered comics and recently announced a deal with secretive AR company Magic Leap to begin work on comics for their technology.

The thrust of today’s deal is about both broadening Madefire’s library and putting two company together with a similar approach, Wolstenholme says.

“We’re a creator platform, Image is a creator-first company,” he says. “Madefire was designed as a digital platform for storytelling and Image Comics has published some of the most visually stunning, and memorable stories ever created.”

With this deal locked in, the company can now start focusing on expanding some of the other ways it presents comics.

Currently, only about 10 percent of Madefire’s catalog is motion comics and virtual reality comics are extremely limited.

“If you looking going forward starting today and what happens next year, there will be a far more even split” between motion and standard comics on Madefire’s platform, Wolstenholme says. As for VR, that will likely be a much more case-by-case situation.

“We think short visual story-telling is absolutely perfect for these immersive experiences [in VR],” he says. “Moving forward, the world will expect more than a PDF, that’s why we developed motion books. Having these publishers on this journey is critical. You to have everyone around the table - new creators, established publishers, film, TV and gaming - to actually set the agenda.

"And now it’s kind of clicking together in a way that is very exciting. Image is an important part of that puzzle."