DeviantART, the online artists’ community, has entered into a strategic partnership with Madefire, the comics software/publishing hybrid known for its Motion Books publishing platform and iOS app. As the initial focus of the partnership, the Motion Books platform——which offers the option of limited animation and sound effects to comics arts—will be available outside iOS for the first time and emerge on the DeviantART Web site as an embedded browser, with the toolset eventually opened up for use by DeviantART’s community. Motion Books will have a one-year exclusive as the only storytelling tool on the DA site.
MadefIre launched at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, presenting new comics in the Motion Books format by Dave Gibbons, Liam Sharp and more. DeviantART is a hugely popular art community website, with 26 million registered users and 65 million unique visitors each month—it’s the seventh biggest social networking site. Artists can post their work and embed and share their favorite work from others. PW profiled DeviantArt and its business model and founders in recent coverage of the online community's presentation at SXSW 2013.
The Motion Books will have their own section on DeviantART and can be accessed either for free or for a fee set by the artists themselves. The initial offering will see three of Madefire’s existing serials offered for free and the rest for 10 DA Points. (DeviantART uses an in-house currency of “Points,”with the price being roughly equivalent to 10 cents.)
“The original comics [like Action Comics #1, which launched Superman in 1938] were 10 cents, so we thought it would be fun to price them at 10 Points,” explained Angelo Sotira, DeviantART’s CEO and co-founder.
“This is about getting creative paid,” said Madefire co-founder Ben Wolstenholme. “The nominal price is just to set the tone.”
The most interesting thing about this partnership is laying a publishing platform over a community that seems to have an affinity for comic art. While it isn’t well known outside the DeviantART community, the site does have its own cartoonists. Sotira was quick to point out the work of an artist named Yuu Mei. Her signature piece, a Flash-based comic titled “1000 Words,” has been viewed 1.35 million times, downloaded another 38,000 times, has 114,000 “favorite” votes and even has 25,000 comments, a huge humber that underscores the power of the DeviantArt community.
“The largest creative community seemed like a logical place for the new Batman or Walking Dead to emerge,” offered Wolstenholme. He said the controls to the Motion Book tool would be rolled out in a series of waves, starting with a smaller number of artists having access. The tool could be used for anything from a static comic strip to a motion comic and Madefire hopes to learn more about how the tool will be used as they widen the release.
The offerings will start out with Madefire titles every Wednesday; comics generated by DeviantART’s community will phase in as artists start using the tool.
For his part, Sotira spent four years looking for the right tool for displaying comics on the site, before walking up to Madefire’s booth at last year’s San Diego Comicon. “This is not a coincidence,” he said. “DeviantART has been keenly aware of its position in comics and storytelling. It’s a solution to a problem for our community.”