Mumbai-based Graphic India, which creates comic characters and super heroes for offline and online worlds, has raised $2.8 million (Rs 17.5 crore) in seed funding led by existing investor CA Media LP, the Asian investment arm of The Chernin Group, LLC (TCG), and New York-based media investment group Start Media. The round also saw participation from angel investors such as Backflip Studios founders Julian Farrior and Dale Thoms.
The funds will be used to launch new superheroes and characters for India through mobile.
Prior to this round, the company had raised $2.5 million in funding from CA Media for a large minority stake, in January 2013.
"This new financing will expand our content offering and allow us to create India's premiere mobile platform for comics and animation," said Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO, Graphic India.
"With smartphones increasingly becoming the preferred medium of entertainment for the youth and the ever-increasing consumer reach of mobiles in India, the move towards expanding its offering and creating content for smartphones and tablets will give Graphic India a significant boost," added Rajesh Kamat, COO, Chernin Asia Media Group.
Graphic India was set up in 2012 by media entrepreneurs Devarajan, Gotham Chopra (son of US-based alternative therapy practitioner and speaker Deepak Chopra) and Suresh Seetharaman as a subsidiary of the US-based Liquid Comics, a digital entertainment company that uses the medium of graphic storytelling to develop original content for various digital platforms, publishing, theatrical live-action films, animation and games. The company produces digital comics and animation to create new character franchises, and is looking to tap into the 550 million youth population (under the age of 25) as well as 850 million-strong mobile phone user base in India.
Devarajan holds an MBA from the Columbia University and a BFA degree from Syracuse University in the US. Previously, he was co-founder, CEO and publisher of Virgin Comics LLC and Virgin Animation Pvt Ltd. His partner Chopra is a journalist and documentary film-maker while Seetharaman co-founded Gotham Entertainment Group, a South Asian youth magazine.
Over the next few months, Graphic India will unveil a number of digital products and apps in India to build direct engagement with the growing community of comic book and animation fans in the country. It plans to release hundreds of free digital comics and videos in English, Hindi, Tamil and other local Indian languages.
Since its launch, the company has entered into licensing deals and content partnerships with Cartoon Network, Rovio, YouTube, Mandalay, Lionsgate, among others, to license its digital comics and characters for television and film. Graphic India is also planning to work with Stan Lee and his POW! Entertainment on producing 'Chakra The Invincible', its first superhero for the Indian market, as Lee's first Bollywood live-action film.
According to the company, a number of its digital comics and projects has also been licensed into theatrical live-action film deals for Hollywood, with 'Ramayan 3392AD' in development with Mandalay Pictures; 'The Sadhu' in development with Mark Canton (producer of the '300' films); 'The Leaves' in development at Lionsgate; and 'Titans' in development with J Michael Straczynski (screenwriter of 'Thor' and 'World War Z') and Chernin Entertainment (producer of the 'Planet of The Apes' films).
CA Media is promoted by former News Corporation COO Peter Chernin's Chernin Group and former Star TV Asia CEO Paul Aiello; it is a hybrid of an investment firm and an operating company. One arm of the company is involved in television and film production while another arm invests in companies like Flipboard, Tumblr, Pandora and Fullscreen.
The current investment portfolio includes Endemol India, Only Much Louder (OML), and a wholly owned online influencer network around celebrities and brands FLUENCE, besides Graphic India.
Start Media, LLC is a privately held media company with interests in exhibition, feature film production and financing, content discovery technology and publishing.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)