The motion-comics platform Madefire got a big boost this week with an infusion of $5.2 million of Series A venture capital funding that will allow it to further develop its products.
Madefire has already come a long way since it launched last year. Initially, it was publishing original comics by an array of creators, including Watchmen artist Dave Gibbons, but earlier this year it announced partnerships with several comics publishers, including IDW and BOOM! Studios. It’s also tacking in a different direction by forming a partnership with the grass-roots artists’ site DeviantArt. Already there is a Madefire player on the DeviantArt site that offers both Madefire originals and IDW titles such as Star Trek and My Little Pony. And the content may start to flow the other way, as Madefire is talking about bringing comics by DeviantArt artists to its iOS apps. This could be like an even more grass-roots version of comiXology submit, with emerging artists promoting their work on a common platform.
The bigger question is whether there is a demand for motion comics. I reviewed the first issue of My Little Pony on Madefire and noted that you got only half the comic for the same price as the full comic on comiXology. The motion elements were pretty good, thought. There’s plenty of bad animation out there, where the figures move like paper dolls; Madefire takes a more thoughtful approach, making the different elements of the page work smoothly together. It really feels like a comic, not a cartoon. I’m sure there’s a formula behind it, but it does make reading the comic more of an immersive experience.
The real appeal, though, may be in something else: The possibility that Madefire could include a Netflix-style all-you-can-read model. Presumably that would be something like Marvel Unlimited—pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee, read all the comics on the platform—but with comics from different publishers. That’s something readers have been asking for for a while, and if Madefire can deliver that, the market may be there.