Zestworld, a new subscription-based digital comics venture, announced it has raised $9.37 million in new funding to create a publishing and distribution platform for a newly assembled stable of veteran popular comics creators. Zestworld’s new platform offers creators substantial compensation and the opportunity to publish original comics via newsletter subscriptions on their own schedules, adapt the works into new media and formats, and retain complete ownership rights to their properties.
The round of new funding was led by the venture capital firm General Catalyst, in addition to investment by Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and his venture capital firm, Seven Seven Six; former TaskRabbit CEO Stacy Brown Philpot; Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital; and Twitch founder Kevin Lin.
First announced in November last year, Zestworld plans to release original works created by such popular comics creators as Alex Segura, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Peter J. Tomasi, Eric Canete, and Phil Jiminez. Designed as a centralized multiservice platform, Zestworld plans to offer artists a variety of support services, including business management, online community, digital publishing, virtual events, and rights management as well as guidance in releasing NFTs.
Among the newly announced Zestworld titles are The Awakened by Alex Segura, Michael Moreci, and Dean Kotz, a noir-superhero mystery; Boom Pow! by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiott, in which an immortal is awakened in the modern the world; and ARC Athena by Eric Canete, the story of a superhero team curated by a global tech/entertainment company using polling data to create a team of aspirational heroes for the public.
Zestworld is among a number of new ventures aimed at disrupting the North American comics publishing model typified by Marvel and DC: well-known company-owned characters (such as Superman and Spider-Man) in serialized works created via work-for-hire agreements with artists and writers. Zestworld joins Substack, another recent digital publishing venture targeting the comics marketplace, that is also designed as a subscription-newsletter platform for comics readers. Much like Zestworld, Substack previously announced a stellar lineup of comics creators on its platform, among them James Tynion IV, Khary Randolph, Joanne Starer, and Brian K. Vaughan, attracted to the platform with offers of sizeable advances for original comics content published and completely owned by the artists that create it.
Zestworld CEO and founder Chris Gilberti described the current market for comics and his plans for Zestworld. “In recent years, the comic book industry has boomed, producing global hits on a scale unprecedented in the history of entertainment. Contrast this enormous popularity and franchise value with the livelihood of the creators who invented the beloved characters that dominate our culture. It’s time we equip this community with its own dedicated platform specifically tailored to the comics medium and its fans.”