Time Magazine is continuing its foray into Web3 and the metaverse by enlisting the services of a well-known digital explorer to investigate these nascent spaces and technologies. “Aku,” a metaverse character created by ex-Major League Baseball (MLB) shortstop Micah Johnson, who is now a digital artist, will be featured on the August 2022 cover of the iconic magazine.
Johnson calls Aku the world’s first digital explorer, and the cover depicts his character entering a portal into the metaverse. The August issue will also feature an article by Mathew Ball titled “The Next Digital Era Will Change Everything.”
The character has a powerful origin tale. After overhearing a child ask his mother, “Can astronauts be black?” Johnson created Aku, which features a big astronaut helmet and a desire for adventure.
Aku has been such a successful character that in less than a year it generated more than $20 million in sales last year and helped Johnson become the first NFT artist to obtain a major TV and film development deal.
Before realizing the potential of NFTs and digital art, Johnson, a 31-year-old artist, painted on conventional canvases. Now he is the owner of a 3D animation business.
Time Magazine Has Been Busy in Web3
The continued interest in all things Web3 from TIME Magazine should come as no surprise to folks who’ve been paying attention to the space. In March, TIME published an entire magazine as an NFT.
The March 23rd edition of TIME Magazine was made available as an Ethereum-based NFT and featured a cover story about the future of the Ethereum blockchain. The magazine cover showed a picture of Vitalik Buterin, one of the leading developers behind Ethereum, and was dropped to select people who hold a TIMEPiece NFT.
TIME has also made partnerships with blue-chip NFT collections. In 2021, it announced it was working on a TV series based on the Toy Boogers NFTs and is also developing a children’s show with Wil Lee’s The Littles NFTs.
Lastly, at NFT.NYC last month, TIME President Keith Grossman revealed that the magazine was partnering with The Sandbox to build TIME Square and secure its presence in the popular metaverse. The virtual space will help the iconic magazine share products and bring people together for social gatherings, commerce, and art.
While TIME isn’t the only magazine that’s all-in on Web3 and NFTS — Billboard and Sports Illustrated have dipped their toes in the space as well — at this point, TIME appears to be leading the pack. The compelling cover from Johnson and more feature articles about Web3 and crypto should give TIME an edge against the competition, at least for now.