Sharing The Work Of Talented People – Speaking Storyworlds With Founder Max Gadney

by James Ferguson

With everything going on in 2020, you might think twice about launching a business, let alone a publishing company. That’s not the case for Max Gadney, the founder of Storyworlds, a new comic book publisher focused on graphic novellas from new and diverse creators. With a slate of titles scheduled to debut early next year, I caught up with Max to talk about what we can expect from Storyworlds in the near future.

James Ferguson: 2020 seems like a crazy time to launch a comic book publisher. What made this the right time to jump into the market?

Max Gadney: Disruptive times create new gaps in the market and new expectations from audiences. Readers increasingly want to read stories starring diverse characters and now is the perfect time to give new talent a voice. Our distribution model combines digital, print-on-demand and eventually, special editions. I personally have spent a lot of time in comic stores (shout out to Mega-City Comics in London, UK) but that’s not true of most people, so while we need a product in comic stores, we’ll also be on digital, Amazon, and bookstores.

JF: Storyworlds is focused more on longer form content with graphic novellas. What made you take that approach instead of floppies?

MG: Comics need to compete with gaming, streaming, and social in the battle for readers attention, and the graphic novella creates enough impact while being reasonably priced. It establishes characters and worlds in a single, denser package, creating more resonance with readers. Businesswise, a 60 page book is easier to place in Amazon and regular bookstores as well as comic stores, and readers will never miss out on a book they want.

JF: Storyworlds is launching with four graphic novellas: United States of Magic, The Sword and the Six-Shooter, Only Hope: Fear Farm, and FAB. How were these titles selected as the initial batch?

MG: The Storyworlds muse is ‘fantastic subversion’. All our stories are set in the near future or alternative near-history and all ask questions of issues we face in 2020. It’s also important [to us] that we have characters from different backgrounds so that we start diverse and speak to underrepresented audiences from across the world. We have also left the door open for larger story-universe joining – but not just yet. There is a whole toolkit of how to bind a universe from themes, metaphysics, science, organisations, events and timelines, brands and of course characters – we are looking at how to lay the conditions in all our stories to explore the above.

JF: Of the four launch titles, you are personally involved in three of them. How did you choose your work first and how do you plan to expand to include up-and-coming creators from diverse backgrounds?

MG: I’ve designed the story-bibles and storyworlds for all the initial comics to control the overall tone and editorial brand for our launch. Most start-ups bear the hand of an involved founder at the beginning, it’s then up to me to get out of the way. With FAB, RAMZEE totally gets the vision and Stefano’s art will make this maximal story really pop. I’m currently in discussions with a roster of creators to start treatments for book 2 of our titles. My hope is that they can really put their stamp on it once we’ve kicked off.

JF: As we await the initial launch titles, what else do you have in store from Storyworlds?

MG: We’ve got a lot on. We are developing ideas for Book 2 of each launch title. We are working on some exciting new ideas involving finding new creators and funding projects we believe in, some one-shots and potential series as well. Mainly, we are developing new ways to work with up and coming creators. Whatever disruption the industry has to deal with, we need to keep sharing the work of talented people.

Comicon would like to thank Max Gadney for speaking with us. The first Storyworlds title, United States of Magic, is slated for release in February 2021.

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