Madefire signs deal to bring its “motion books” to key US publishers

Madefire Screen GrabGroundbreaking. Innovative. Original. All these terms could be used to describe either the cutting-edge digital studio Madefire or their new US publishing partners: IDW, Top Cow, Boom! Studios, and iTV. In signing a new partnership, these trailblazing companies are going to be setting a new standard for digital storytelling in the 21st century.

Founded in 2011 by Ben Wolstenholme, Liam Sharp and Eugene Walden, Madefire provides artists and writers a publishing solution for iOS and web reading allowing them to build their stories in an exciting new format called Motion Books.

“Madefire has created some amazing original motion books and animation tools,” shared Jeff Webber, IDW’s VP of Digital Publishing. “They’ve taken everything they’ve learned and developed over the past year and applied it to creating new experiences with some of our top comic brands. The motion book versions of Star Trek, My Little Pony and Transformers comics will reach a whole new audience.”

The deal consists of IDW, Top Cow, and Boom! Studios bringing the trademark Motion Book experience to a select group of their most popular print titles – including Boom!’s Next Testament and 2 Guns and Top Cow’s The Darkness – and releasing them through the acclaimed Madefire iOS app and on the web exclusively through deviantART.

Taking existing print titles and creating a new, immersive digital reading experience will be a first for Madefire but it’s a treatment they think fans will enjoy.

“A primary goal from Day One has been to work with the top publishers in the print and entertainment space toward adoption of the Motion Book experience,” notes Madefire co-founder and CEO Ben Wolstenholme. “To launch with an elite group of publishers out the gate is tremendous and speaks volumes to their visionary approach to storytelling.”

Venturebeat notes that the announcement marks marks Madefire’s first step in monetizing its motion book technology as a publishing tool. Ben Wolstenholme told the site the startup will also open up its motion book tool to more people next week at Comic-Con, thus allowing more independent creators to produce their own motion books. Eventually, Wolstenholme said, those creators will also be able to sell their motion books through Madefire, which will provide the startup with another stream of revenue.

iTV will be testing the platform with an original, digital-first series by Des Taylor called The Trouble with Katie Rogers exclusively on Madefire.

“Ever since I bumped into the Madefire stand at San Diego Comic Con 2012, I haven’t looked back! The Motion Book tool gave me the freedom to create Katie Rogers how I want the reader to experience it and I am seriously considering creating other titles in my portfolio on this platform,” raves Des Taylor, creator/writer/artist on Katie Rogers. “The only restriction is your mind.”

“All the publishers we’re working with are very forward-thinking and innovative in their approach to storytelling,” Madefire’s Editorial Director Ben Abernathy told CBR News when asked what attracted the publishers to the partnership.

“They have demonstrated a willingness to try new things in reaching new readers, both in print and digital, and I think they saw an opportunity with Madefire and our Motion Book format to push the envelope further and deliver an exciting and immersive experience to fans.” Abernathy added he believes the Madefire iOS app and their exclusive partnership with deviantART can help the publishers reach a broader audience.

Madefire is backed by Toni Schneider at True Ventures, The CEO of Automattic makers of WordPress, with angel investors including Sina Tamaddon, former Senior Vice President of Applications for Apple Inc – both of whom are on Madefire’s Board of Advisors. The Advisory Board also includes industry leaders Mike McCue, CEO and Founder of Flipboard, Dave Gibbons, co-creator of Watchmen, the bestselling graphic novel of all time, and Bill Sienkiewicz, widely recognized as one of the greatest innovators of sequential art.

“Since its launch in 2011, Madefire has occupied a unique niche in the digital ecosystem,” notes Rob Salkowitz from ICV2 in his analysis of the announcement. “Rather than focusing on developing a mass audience by signing up established publishers to its platform right out of the gate, it has honed its technology and focused on extending the possibilities of visual narrative through digital media.  The technical capabilities of its platform have always been impressive, but the whole concept of motion books as a viable format for comics begs the question of whether digital effects can be employed to support great storytelling without being meaningless distractions.  Previous experiments along these lines frustrated traditional readers without reaching a large new audience.

“Over the past year, the company has endeavored to dispel those doubts, pumping out a variety of genre-based series distinguished by their craft, high-end sheen, and restrained use of the tricks at their disposal.  Whether these stories grab you or not is a matter of taste, but they indisputably maintain a high standard of professionalism and thoughtful application of new media techniques.

“Of all the major digital-first publishers, Madefire is the one most clearly competing with the mainstream in terms of production value.”

• Further information regarding release dates and additional titles to join the burgeoning line to come. For Motion Book demonstrations of each title, be sure to visit Madefire’s booth (#4902,4904) at San Diego Comic Con July 17-21. For more information go to


Categories: Digital Comics

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