Remember when you were a child, flipping through comic book pages, imagining the characters coming to life, bringing you along as you helped them defeat the ever-immoral antagonist? This childhood dream is now becoming reality, virtual reality. You CAN bring the story to life, build into the world, and even exist within it.

Welcome To VR Comics, Whole New Worlds At Your Fingertips

This amazing VR technology is opening up new worlds that are being fully explored and expanded on all sides by companies like The Spiraloid Workshop Company. They are creating cross-media universes that start as VR Comics with real-time production tools, that are being built as a virtual studio backlot. They then share all of that with content partners and their community of fans and creators with the goal of creative genius lending to expansion.

The company's founders read like a who's-who of tech and design. First, there's Bay Raitt, who is best known for his work creating Gollum for the Lord of the Rings, Bay spent almost ten years at Valve where his team created fifty short films and the Source Filmmaker. Whether pioneering edge loop modeling and subdiv surfaces, shipping games like TF2, Portal and HL2 or building the Steam Workshop, Raitt has influenced a generation of digital artists and techies with his pioneering vision.

Add to that the expertise of Brendan Kavanagh, who brings new products, services, and segments to life, is fluent in digital - mobile, apps, CE, content, and media, and is known for innovative vision with a strategic focus on ROI... they seem to have every single base covered, doubly. Which means they don't just do business, they create business, even down to the creative business model itself that they rely on for growth and strategy.

Fan-Based Business Models Of The Future

The world of comic books is one that thrives in the hearts of fans everywhere. Their pulse is the lifeline keeping the stories alive, and their excitement keeps the stories coming. So it only makes sense to rely on that energy, to even tap into it, and to then use that reserve as the foundational element of the business model for everything created.

As Bay noted in our conversations, "We're reinventing the graphic novel in VR by combining what's best about comics, games, film and art into an immersive experience that allows our biggest fans to enter the workshop and create right along side us!"

Here's How This Model Works:

  1. Direct dialogue with your audience/users. Fan-embraced companies live longer because what exists is a part of the fans life, something they support indefinitely because they expect it to be there.
  2. A true balance of creative control + crowd input. Taking the approach of making creations seem less like a product and more like a service allows more room to grow the experience with the fans, in the ways they actually want. So that they feel a part of what is being built, rather than something they are just buying to use for awhile. This is what it means to build a tribe.
  3. A quicker, cheaper path to startup. Tech has finally made this possible and more immersive with lower barriers to entry, and simple ways to build proof of concept along with a loyal fan base. Even going back just 10-years, this wasn't true, because the complexities and costs alone kept the entry high, and honestly, nearly impossible if you weren't in the right place at the right time.
  4. Speed. "Outpacing a pirate" is one of the terms Bay used during our conversations that really puts this in perspective. When you are competing with "free" you need to stay ahead, or outpace the pirates. At Spiraloid, not only are they working at a much faster speed, but the closeness with the fans mean they have built loyalty and have their finger on the pulse of what their fans want next. A copycat (pirate) can do it cheaper but can only follow what's already been created. Fast-paced innovation is always a part of the model.

It has never been a better time to be a comic book fan or designer because it's the perfect "outer shell of franchise" and it is within reach of any creative with 3D skills and VR glasses.

read. play. watch. make.

A close connection with the audience is incredibly important, and what lent to the this new idea of this emerging successful business model of working with your fans. By creating a rally point for pop culture going forward, VR comics are the new way. It's more than just a book. It's more like a theme park disguised as a book.

For You, About You, With You

This new encapsulating medium allows you to combine every entertainment and media facet; socializing, music, video, gaming, building... there are no constraints in creating this entertainment. In this virtual world, everything can co-exist and lend to one another, creating the ultimate comic book experience, the one where you're truly a part of it- all the way down to the business plan.

Published on: May 16, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.