Comics Publisher Zestworld Launches With All-Star Creative Roster

There's a new comic book publisher on the scene, and it's launching with an all-star roster of creative talent. Zestworld is the newest subscription-based publisher working to give creators more of a financial stake in the projects they help produce. If a Zestworld title is adapted into a television or movie, the creators retain the overall rights, compared to work-for-hire contracts with the Big 2 of Marvel Comics and DC Comics. As the New York Times revealed, the all-star creators on Zestworld comics are also stockholders in the company, offering even more incentives.

"In setting out to build this, we started with the problem statement that this industry is broken for creators; and it's broken in publishing and TV and film; it's also broken in events and collectibles," Chris Giliberti, founder and chief executive officer of Zestworld, told the New York Times in a telephone interview. "We wanted to build something that's useful across all areas of their business — anywhere they generate income."

The list of creators working with Zestworld includes Eric Canete, Amanda Conner, Phil Jimenez, Jimmy Palmiotti, Alex Segura, and Peter Tomasi. Along with becoming stockholders, Zestworld is also offering monetary advances for the comics in production. Substack developed a similar model when it announced it was diving into the comics business, attracting talent such as James Tynion IV, Skottie Young, Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Saladin Ahmed, Kelly Thompson, Jonathan Hickman, and more.

One of the early investors of Zestworld is Alexis Ohanian's Seven Seven Six, a venture capitalist firm. Ohanian was also a co-founder of Reddit and an early investor in the Patreon platform that allows content creators to offer exclusive content behind a subscription paywall. "I'm a lifelong comics fan, so much so that I didn't read an actual book for pleasure until college," Ohanian added in an email interview. "This investment started from a place of personal passion, but it's also a perfect fit with my investing history in the creator economy."

"They put their money where their mouth was," Palmiotti said in a telephone interview. "They came to us and said, 'You guys can do whatever you want. We want you to create some comics and characters. You guys own them, you guys control them.'"

He added, "Nothing's being done without sitting with us and talking to us and nothing is being made without it benefiting us. It's the kind of transparency all creators need."

The Zestworld Twitter account reshared artwork from some of the upcoming series. Co-writers Michael Moreci and Alex Segura, artist Dean Kotz, colorist Jason Wordie, and letterer Jim Campbell are the creative team on the superhero mystery The Awakened; Eric Canete is working on Arc Athena; Phil Jimenez is bringing Otherworld to fans; and Jimmy Palmiotti and Juan Santacruz are teaming on Found.

What do you think of Zestworld's efforts and roster of creators? Let us know in the comments!