Name: Graphite Comics, Inc.
Location: Santa Monica, California
Social Media Following: 183 Likes on Facebook
Reviews: iOS app store – 4.7/5 (19 reviews), Play Store – 4.1/5, (44 reviews)
INDUSTRY (Comic books)
Size: $1.095B (2018, North America) (Source: “ICv2-Comichron Comic Sales Report – Combined Print and Digital Downloads”)
Graphite Comics, Inc. is a digital comic book reading platform for mobile devices. The service launched as a website and application on June 11, 2019 with over 10,000 titles from a slew of independent comic publishers. The company has also created an AI-driven suggestion engine to help readers discover new titles and content based on their tastes.
The Graphite Comics platform is accessible through a mobile application as well as through a browser, and enables users to access a library with several familiar names such as Pacific Rim, Wall-E, Judge Dredd, Cyanide & Happiness making up their collection. Users can access and consume this content for free if they’re willing to face some ads along the way. A subscription fee of $4.99 is available for those who wish for an ad-free experience.
The platform currently features comics from BOOM! Studios, IDW, Legendary, Tokyo Pop, Aspen, Dynamite, PaperCutz, and Top Cow. The recent synergies between the Japanese Manga industry, comic titles and Hollywood ensure that several titles deal with extremely popular characters or universes such as Star Wars, Pirates of the Carribean, Transformers, and so forth. The platform also features webcomics and webtoons as a means to cater to that market as well.
Graphite is using the trends in the Japanese comic publishing industry to get ahead of the curve. According to a New York Times article covering Graphite’s launch, digital sales in Japan overtook print sales for the first time in 2017. The founders seem aware that the success of their platform depends upon getting the broadest possible collection, and openly declare their hope to eventually feature Marvel and DC titles in their library. For now, they are enticing other publishers with 70% of the subscription and ad revenue, as well as unfettered access to data and analytics from readers to help them connect better with their readers.
Origin and Founding Team
Graphite was founded in March 2018 by Michael Eng and Rick Strom, both of whom are also co-founders of Glowdot Productions, an interactive and creative boutique agency with offices in Santa Monica and Stockholm. Michael worked in Business Development and ended up working with SEGA, Disney, and Warner Bros. which helped him get the network he needed for Graphite. Rick is a mobile app and game developer with over two decades of experience working in creating popular interactive experiences at Glowdot, and they were both able to leverage their experience to move towards building a platform which someday might redefine comic books as a completely digital experience.
Performance and Trends
Graphite is backed to an undisclosed amount by Mucker Capital, an LA-based ‘pre-seed’ and early-stage VC firm and accelerator. Graphite Comics is a part of its accelerator program, which usually invests between $21K – $150K in exchange for 7-12% equity. The platform’s release has been well-received in the comic book universe, especially with backing from prominent labels such as BOOM!, owned by Disney and home to some of the most familiar titles featured by Graphite.
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