In 2012, Valiant relaunched itself as a comic book publisher and licensor, and has enjoyed strong growth ever since. “We’ve reintroduced our biggest heroes to popular acclaim, as well as established brand-new characters that didn’t exist into the market, and they’ve been very well accepted,” Cuneo states.
Not only do 2,700 comic book shops sell its titles, but also “mass market retailers like Barnes & Noble and Amazon,” he says, adding that its comics are also sold digitally via many platforms, including Google and Amazon’s comiXology.
“We have the fastest growing sales force in the comics industry,” Cuneo continues. “We’ve added guys from some of the top publishers in comics, and some of the biggest retailers as well.”
At the Movies
Like D.C. and Marvel, Valiant is branching out into films. In April, the company and Sony Pictures announced a five-picture deal for movies based on two of its award-winning superhero franchises, “Bloodshot” and “Harbinger.”
The first, “Bloodshot,” will be in cinemas in 2017, directed by David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, who had success in 2014 with “John Wick.” The second, “Harbinger,” will follow, with both films produced by Neal H. Moritz of Original Film, the lead producer of “The Fast and The Furious” franchise.
Each movie will be followed by sequels before characters from each franchise come together in a crossover film, “Harbinger Wars.” “That feature film is going to be directly inspired by something we did in print,” Gorinson says. “So for us to be realizing that on the big screen with some incredibly talented filmmakers is an unprecedented scenario for a comics publisher outside of Marvel and D.C.”
Valiant also received an eight-figure investment from DMG Entertainment, one of the largest entertainment companies in China. “They have a great track record with superhero properties,” Cuneo says, noting that DMG distributed “Iron Man 3” in China, which became one of the country’s highest grossing films of all time.
“Superhero films are the hottest place in films today,” he adds. “In 2014, four of the top 10 films were superhero-oriented. We’re going to a spot where there’s a lot of demand.”
DMG also dedicated an additional nine-figures of financing towards production of films and television shows based on Valiant’s characters. “It’s the largest film financing deal for a comic book company since the formation of Marvel Studios,” Gorinson says.
Building Its Base
Valiant is active on the merchandising side with 50 partners, says Russell A. Brown, the president of consumer products, promotions and ad sales. “That’s inclusive of international publishing and digital publishing deals,” he says.
“At the same time, we’re building a fan base internationally,” Brown continues, adding that the company has signed with international agents. “These are people that have worked in our pop culture world before. They know where opportunities exist.” At the core of the program are fan items that range from statues to apparel. “We’re also in development on a card [role-playing] game,” he says.
The company also plans to leverage off of the nostalgia craze, with merchandise featuring characters from Valiant’s comics during the 1990s. “If you grew up in North America [at that time], you likely had a Valiant comic in your house,” Gorinson says. “There’s extreme recognition for the characters in the Valiant universe that we will be drilling down into in the coming year.”
On the Cusp
Cuneo is proud of Valiant. “The task of what we built today is a huge accomplishment,” he says, noting that some comic book companies have not survived after a re-launch. “It’s very difficult to convince the retailers that you are here to stay and you are successful,” he continues. “We’ve done that for a number of years and are growing.”
Fan support has boosted this growth, which the company nurtures through marketing and social media efforts and comic conventions, Cuneo says. “Our existing fan base is rabid, and we’re constantly introducing our characters to new comic book readers,” he says.
Valiant also earns this loyalty through the quality storytelling and art in its comics. “You can’t drive a merchandising program without the art,” Brown says. “We’ve got some of the best in the business.”
The company also has avoided disappointments. “Every comic book publisher has misses, commercial or critically, but we haven’t had that yet,” Cuneo says. “Our consistency of product is something we’re proud of.”
He sees a strong future for Valiant as it enters its next phase. “There’s a tremendous demand for these types of intellectual properties,” Cuneo says.
Gorinson agrees. “We are really on the cusp of really introducing Valiant as a force to be reckoned with [in] all of popular culture,” he says.