California comics startup Madefire has a big new partnership announcement: the young company is teaming up with comics industry giant DC for a number of new titles, including a graphic novel based around Batman: Arkham Origins, a remastered version of the popular digital first-comic Injustice: Gods Among Us.
The Madefire arrangement marks the first major publisher partnership, though it has made arrangements with smaller organizations like longtime Internet art showcase and community deviantART and comics publisher IDW. Back when Madefire announced its $5.2 million Series A funding round in October, it also revealed that it was in talks with DC, but nothing specific was announced at that time. Now, however, the deal proves to be quite expansive, and it definitely qualifies as a considerable ‘get’ for Madefire.
Madefire’s tech makes for interactive comics that go beyond the minor animations of most motion comics efforts from players in the same space like comiXology. The aim of Madefire founder Ben Wolstenholme in creating the company was to do something truly digital-native, rather than just adapting material originally intended for print. It’s an approach that made sense to DC Entertainment.
“Madefire visited the DCE office over a year ago to showcase their capabilities and around the same time we had begun mulling a multi-path story idea for our digital initiative,” DC SVP of Integrated Publishing and Vertigo Hank Kanalz explained to TechCrunch. “Once we saw what Madefire was capable of building we asked if they were able to provide multi-paths within a story. They had shown us they had the toolset to do motion books at a scalable level, but could they take things to the next level?”
The partnership took a little while to come together because DC wanted some specific needs met in terms of product, according to Kanalz, including some features that Madefire already had on their product roadmap. DC also worked together with Madefire on UI decisions used in the new apps, so this wasn’t just a tech licensing arrangement. I also asked what Madefire offered that other existing partners like comiXology did not.
“One of the many things we like about Madefire is they are developing purely for the digital reader – taking that experience to the next level,” he said. “This mindset leads to innovations, like DC2 MultiVerse, that enhance the storytelling experience. Everything we consider for this project is in service to the story, and a clear digital reading experience.”
While neither Madefire nor DC is discussing the financials on this deal, it’s very likely that it’ll have significant material impact on the startup’s fortunes. DC also offers a whole host of other digital first titles, so there’s plenty of opportunity for partnership expansion, too, should this effort prove a hit with consumers.