Whatnot, Inc. and Massive a publishing, the editorial group behind Starburns Industries Press and Happy Tank, are joining forces to launch Whatnot Publishing, ComicBook.com has learned. The publisher will be home to a pair of high-profile comics right off the bat: Alpha Betas, based on the viral-hit animated series, and Wesley Snipes's sci-fi noir thriller, The Exiled. Whatnot, Inc.'s livestreaming platform has exploded in popularity since debuting in 2019, making an expansion into other areas of media inevitable. Starburns Industries Press is the editorial team for the pushing arm of Starburns Industries. That's the animation studio behind Rick and Morty, HBO's Animals, and the Oscar-Nominated Anomalisa.
Per their announcement, Whatnot Publishing's business model is focused on building a space where creators, retailers, and fans feel they are a part of a united community. The inaugural Whatnot Publishing slate of books includes a wide spectrum of talent, ranging from up-and-coming creators blazing new trails in the comic industry to superstar veterans with huge followings in the pop culture community as well as the Whatnot app platform.
"Whatnot is committed to being a positive part of the comic community for both buyers and sellers, aiding creators in bringing their works to market and helping to supply our retailers with unique exclusive opportunities," said Jack DeMayo, co-founder of Whatnot Publishing and Whatnot's Head of Marketing for Comics & Media, in a statement.
The first release from Whatnot Publishing will be based on the hit animated series, Alpha Betas, developed and produced by 3BLACKDOT (Queen & Slim, Gaming While Black) and creators Chris Bruno & David Howard Lee. Alpha Betas is a collaboration with popular YouTube creators VanossGaming, BasicallyIDoWrk, WILDCAT, and Terroriser, who bring a collective audience of over 40 million subscribers across their channels, and features voice talents of Hollywood heavy-hitters like Stephanie Beatriz (Encanto, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Chris Parnell (Rick and Morty).
In this four issue mini-series written by Kyle Starks (Image Comics, I Hate This Place) and illustrated by Michael Calero & Trevor Richardson, an elite strike force of four top gamers drop into the virtual realms of video games to fix potentially world-ending issues. The comic series will give fans of the show the chance to step back into the world of Alpha Betas for the first time since the pilot premiered to over 7 million views last fall. New episodes of the animated series are currently in production and will debut in fall of 2022.
"Alpha Betas is a perfect beginning to what we plan to do as a publisher-- bold colors, offbeat characters, energetic story settings that blend genre, mash-up the familiar with the unexpected and makes us laugh," said Michael Calero, series artist and co-founder of Whatnot Publishing.
Whatnot Publishing will also be the home to Wesley Snipes's recently-announced graphic novel project, The Exiled. The producer and star of the Blade franchise announced his return to the world of comics with the 140 page, oversized Special Edition currently being crowd-funded by Adam Lawson of Gifted Rebels and Keith Arem of PCB Productions on Kickstarter.
Series co-creators Lawson and Arem initially partnered with Whatnot Publishing to create the exclusive preview book, available through The Exiled's Kickstarter campaign and at San Diego Comic-Con 2022. That partnership has evolved into a full release of the series for retail shops.
The Exiled, which blends the stylings of cult classics Seven and Blade Runner, is a story about hardboiled detective Niles "Roach" Washington, who wades into the darkness in pursuit of a serial killer five thousand years in the making. The retail release is scheduled for early 2023.
"What I love about comics, is that in the comic world you can escape, you can fantasize, you can imagine yourself being something greater than you are now and you all are very great," said Snipes.
"We are thrilled to be working with Whatnot Publishing on The Exiled release and collaborating with Wesley Snipes,"said Adam Lawson, President of Gifted Rebels, and Keith Arem of PCB Entertainment, in a joint statement. "The Kickstarter campaign has been incredibly successful so far and we are looking forward to sharing this story with the public."
Through the vast resources of the Whatnot app and its community, promotional events and unique exclusives, Whatnot Publishing is aiming to empower retailers to get more books into readers hands.
Co-Founder Kevin Roditeli, a lifelong fan of comics who spent four years in comic retail, created his own comic series (Freak Snow) and eventually became a publisher mused,
"In all my experiences in the comic world, the word that always defined the significance of each role was community," co-founder Kevin Roditelli, a lifelong fan of comics, former retailer, and comic creator, said.
Whatnot Publishing's first original title, Ninja Funk, started as the dream project of John-Paul "JPG" Paras, owner of That Spider-Man Booth and Street Level Hero LA in California.0comments
Other comic titles yet to be released by Whatnot Publishing have already garnered the attention of major studios, with projects optioned at global media and entertainment companies such as NBC Universal, Warner Bros. Discovery and more.
Whatnot Publishing will release its first book, Alpha Betas #1, on October 12th, 2022