Our Story

Kingstone CEO Art Ayris  with veteran Kingstone artist Danny  Bulanadi and his agent Frank Baldevarona

 Kingstone CEO Art Ayris with veteran Kingstone artist Danny Bulanadi and his agent Frank Baldervarona

Sometimes God provides a dream or a task or a vision that you just know is has to be done. But sometimes, for whatever divine reasoning that will only be understood in another time and place, God also sovereignly allows daunting challenges in the fulfilling of that task and vision. That is the Kingstone story.

If a case could be made that dark forces wanted to prevent something from happening, Kingstone CEO Art Ayris and the Kingstone company might be a proof text for such an event.

Ayris and his mother Dr. Beulah “Boots” Ayris. 

At the age of four his father did not know Ayris was walking behind him as he was using a mower and a piece of metal exploded out of the mower penetrating Ayris’s stomach and intestines. Ayris was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery but as he was losing blood the hospital realized it did not have enough blood to save him and they sent out a call to the local prison who brought in prisoners to donate blood so the little boy would live. Ayris’s mother remarked she would never look at prisoners the same way again. This is one of the reasons Kingstone discounts and subsidizes their products to prisons and juvenile centers.

But complications from the accident became even more threatening as the boy’s temperature rose to fatal heights and the hospital could not get it lowered. In a last-ditch effort, the doctors began packing Ayris in ice to try to bring down the temperature. Even though his lips turned blue, the freezing procedure worked, and Ayris lived.

At the age of nineteen the after results of that surgery came calling again as Ayris was diagnosed with intestinal gangrene generated by complications of the previous surgery. A seven-day hospital stay extended into a twenty-eight day stay with a final procedure to try to save his life. Ayris emerged from the hospital at 135 pounds but with an entirely different outlook on life – and faith.

As Ayris began sharing the idea of launching a new media company the financial challenges were daunting and the unbelievers abundant. After numerous presentations to venture capital and investment groups one New York VC offered to get in involved if Ayris would change the Kingstone logo because “It looked too much like a cross.” Ayris declined and returned to his small central Florida town and quietly began sharing the vision and raising capital.

Two pivotal events began to change the direction of the company. A Tampa investment banker aligned with the vision and came on the board to begin helping with strategic planning and introduced the company to a successful Tampa CEO and one his board members. Through their significant strategic investments the company moved forward significantly in its goal of producing the most complete graphic adaptation of the Bible ever done.

But the challenges were just beginning.

As Kingstone began making traction they received, like the rest of CBA market, the stunning news that Family Christian Stores was going bankrupt and withholding payments due plus inventory. With the 700-store chain being 30% of the company’s revenue it was a shattering event. On the heels of that, another major book distributor went bankrupt sending a double capital hit to the fledgling company.

Though Ayris was an avid runner, his doctor was concerned about abnormal EKGs and a heart catheterization soon revealed Ayris had been born with an artery routed the wrong way. The cardiologist had just diagnosed another man with the same condition who had just dropped dead suddenly and recommended immediate open-heart surgery.

Almost exactly a year later the CEO was hospitalized again for serious abdominal surgery related to the earlier accident. Then while in the hospital he developed an infection that resulted in the wound having to be reopened. Ayris recounts, “This was an especially dark and difficult time because I was totally incapacitated, in pain and nothing to grow the company, raise capital or keep things moving forward. But during the time in the hospital, I continued to give thanks to the Lord. One afternoon I said out loud in my hospital room, ‘I guess this is it, Lord, we need to go ahead and sell the company and let someone else carry the football across the line. I have done all I can do but I trust you.’ Then just before being released from the hospital, the CEO received word of their largest contract to date, enough to finish the 2,000-page graphic Bible they had been laboring on for seven years.

After completion the Kingstone Bible was a Finalist for Christian Book of the Year in the Children’s Category in 2017. The comic Bible is now in over 90 countries and 70 languages. But soon after the Bible being translated into multiple languages the CEO received news he had melanoma which would need immediate facial surgery and a skin graft.

The business challenges were not quite complete...

In 2022 the company experienced a catastrophic 40% drop in publishing revenue for the year. Despite having two-factor authentication, the company’s advertising account on one of the major social media platforms was hacked, causing the Kingstone account to be flagged and the advertising account wiped out.

Filming "No Vacancy"

Then, after the successful 2022 theatrical release of their movie “No Vacancy”, the company prepared a major advertising launch for release on the major streaming platforms. That weekend, one of the major tech companies stopped their ads because it contained the word ‘church’ in the movie ads.

But none of the adverse winds stopped the Kingstone ship. Through dedicated shareholders, an insightful board of directors providing guidance, and executives foregoing cash salaries the company continued to thrive and grow.

After emerging from these “hurricanes,” the central Florida-based company now finds itself in a new and exciting phase:

  • January 2024 Kingstone signed a development deal with NBC Universal on their iconic animated property, Larry Boy, from the Veggie Tales franchise.
  • June 2024 the company is releasing its new U.S. Comics line as well as the U.S. Constitution as a graphic novel.
  • The company is now in production of a new line of 2D animation.
  • Kingstone continues to develop and produce comic, animated and cinematic properties to bring to audiences worldwide.

Through normal start-up risks (90% of start-ups fail), severe business hurricanes and physical challenges the company experienced God’s grace needed for each moment and every hurricane.

A descriptive Scripture about the company is Psalm 145:11-12: "They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom." God is faithful. Kingstone is simply a testimony to his faithfulness.