Bengaluru-based character entertainment company Graphic India Pvt. Ltd has raised $5 million (Rs 32 crore) to embark on its next phase of growth with more original superhero characters, character entertainment franchises and live-action production.
The new round was led by investors at Liquid Comics LLC, Graphic India’s US-based parent, while a group of global media and investment leaders participated in the round. These include Start Media LLC, Backflip Studios co-founder Julian Farrior, TV Mohandas Pai’s 3One4 Capital and Zodius Capital founder Neeraj Bhargava.
With the fresh capital infusion, the company will launch new characters for both domestic and international markets, and expand its offerings beyond digital comics and animation. It is working on original mobile content, live-action TV and films, besides virtual and augmented reality-based properties.
“There is an increasing number of digital and broadcasting platforms emerging in India that are looking for differentiated content. We think we are perfectly positioned to create content that caters to pop-culture fans across both animation and other digital content offerings,” Sharad Devarajan, co-founder and CEO, Graphic India, told VCCircle.
“We are also moving into live action production and planning to expand our business lines to areas such as VR and AR,” he said.
The company produces digital comics and animation with character franchises, and is looking to tap into the 600-million youth population under the age of 25, as well as the 850 million-strong mobile phone user base in India.
“We have already created a leadership position in the character entertainment space in the country. This investment will help us expand that dominance further and develop more properties, more co-productions and content, besides scaling up our digital initiatives for incubation of content,” said Devarajan, adding that the company will also expand its team.
“We look at digital as an area where we can create tremendous amount of digital comics and other content that can really engage with the fans. We hope to take such engaging content from there to larger animation shows, live action shows and other products,” he added.
The company was launched in 2012 by media entrepreneurs Devarajan, Gotham Chopra, who is the son of US-based alternative therapy practitioner and speaker Deepak Chopra, and Suresh Seetharaman. It was set up as a subsidiary of 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.
Devarajan is an MBA from Columbia University and a BFA degree from Syracuse University in the US. Previously, he was the co-founder, CEO and publisher of Virgin Comics LLC and Virgin Animation Pvt Ltd. Chopra is a journalist and documentary film-maker, while Seetharaman co-founded Gotham Entertainment Group, a South Asian youth magazine.
In March 2015, Graphic India had raised $2.8 million in seed funding led by 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 the participation of angel investors, including Backflip Studios founders Julian Farrior and Dale Thoms.
“As they move into live action and virtual reality, Graphic India will continue to lead the country’s character entertainment industry with multi-platform superhero properties,” said Rajesh Kamat, one of Graphic India’s founding board members who represents CA Media.
Since its launch, Graphic India has created a number of popular superhero and fantasy characters and shows, including Chakra The Invincible, an animated series created by Devarajan and comic legend Stan Lee; Astra Force, an animated superhero series created by Devarajan along with Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan; Baahubali: The Lost Legends, an original animated series based on the blockbuster film; 18 Days: The Mahabharata, a digital short-form “motion-comic” series, created with comic writer Grant Morrison.
In addition, Graphic has also created a large library of digital comics and short-form content featuring stories and characters, such as Shadow Tiger; Avatarex; Reincarnation Man; Mighty Yeti; Devi; The Sadhu; Ramayan 3392AD; Mistry PI; Dragonfly & The Global Guardians; Shikari Force; and HyperTygers.
Over the years, the company has entered into licensing deals and content partnerships with Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Rovio, YouTube, Mandalay, Lionsgate, Amazon Prime to license its digital comics and characters for television and film.
*This article and the headline have been modified to correct information regarding the investors.