Focused on an aggressive release schedule supported by key distribution channels and solid financing, Kingstone Media Group has set its sights on becoming the leading publisher of faith-based graphic novels and periodical comics in the Christian Booksellers Association. The company, which began production in 2010, is releasing a number of faith-based periodical comics and up to 12 graphic novels by the end of 2011.
Kingstone Media CEO and publisher Art Ayris said the company plans to release at least 10 graphic novels in 2012.
There's more. The company is producing what could be the most ambitious graphic interpretation of the Holy Bible yet seen. Pointing to a line of on-going comics serials that includes, The Christ, a comic focused on the early years of Jesus Christ and others focused on the Old Testament, Ayris said the house is slowly compiling a comics adaptation of the Bible. "We have a team working on The Christ right now, and we have a team working on The Old Testament. Within the next three years, our goal is to have a full graphic Bible, or about 2,000 pages with high-end art,” Ayris said.
The company releases faith-based comics and graphic novels through its Kingstone Comics imprint, offering such titles as Moses and Lion of God, the story of the Apostle Paul, in both digital and print formats. Science fiction and adventure stories are released through the Galaxy Comics line and aimed at "general market" audiences; periodical comics from the imprint are released digitally, while the graphic novels are released in both digital and print formats. In addition the company’s Bay Forest Books imprint releases "cinematic novels," or prose novels positioned for film adaptations.
Ayris declined to disclose Kingstone Media Group's operating budget for these projects, but in a follow-up email the publisher said, "The company finished it’s A-round capitalization in August 2010 and is fully funded for production through 2012." Asked about financial pursuits, he noted that Kingstone is a for-profit company started by venture capital and it receives zero contributions from religious institutions.
In early 2012, the company will introduce three more comics and graphic novels imprints: Chronicles Media, a imprint focused on historical and educational graphic novels; Valor, a line of comics and graphic novels set in the military; and Classix, which will specialize in graphic adaptations of classic literature.
"I would say anything I do is influenced by a biblical worldview," Ayris said. "There have been great movies and books that aren't considered what would be standard Christian fare, but I felt they were incredible stories of faith and perseverance, things of that nature,” he said. "There are some people in the CBA market that don't want to buy our CBA stuff because they feel like it's too graphic," he added. "I feel it's fairly safe for a 12,13,14-year-old kid."
Kingstone Comics is the frontrunner among the company's comics imprints and The Revelation, a comics adaptation of the Bible’s Book of Revelations, is one of its most popular titles, Ayris said. The imprint is carried at 60 Parable Christian Store locations and 33 Mardel Christian and Education locations, as well as a number of churches and independent Christian bookstores. Its main distributor is Anchor Distributors, and Ayris said, Kingstone Media handles some direct fulfillments.
Kingstone's retail accounts are increasing. Ayris pointed out that the company is working with major chains such as Books-a-Million and Barnes & Noble, some of which are interested in releasing Kingstone's comics translated to Spanish. In an email to PWCW, Ayris added that both Kingstone and Galaxy titles will be available through Diamond Comic Distributors, the dominant distributor to the direct market (aka, the comics shop market), in the near future.
Kingstone Media Group's history stretches back to 2005, when Aryis, a film and TV pro at heart, produced the film The Touch, about a tormented woman who finds solace in ministry work. Kingstone was a small operation then, but today it has a board of directors, president, CFO and executive vice-president of sales, as well as a creative team of about 30 editors, writers and artists. Kingstone has offices located in Leesburg and Tampa, Florida, and Dallas, Texas. Ayris pointed out that two executives—president Steve Blount and director Gene Mims—are former executives of LifeWay, one of the largest publishing houses tied to the CBA.
Kingstone Media Group's next step, according to Ayris, is expansion in the digital market. The company's digital comics are available now through Novo Ink, which distributes Christian e-books. Kingstone has made applications to get its content on devices such as Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle and they are slated for fall release.
"We're trying to create as much content as we can," Ayris said. "Our stuff looks good on the iPad, and more and more things are going digital."