At SXSW Marvel Entertainment shared its plans for the future of digital. The plans came off a little convoluted, but mostly exciting. But they only came off convoluted because Marvel isn’t sharing absolutely everything just yet. The beans will get spilled soon as their entire initiative (nudge nudge wink wink) begins on April 4th coinciding with the release of Avengers VS X-Men #1, when they roll out Infinite versions of their comics. The entire plan has been dubbed ReEvolution.
“Marvel’s always led graphic fiction industry in digital media innovation and the Marvel ReEvolution is a quantum leap into the future of publishing,” said Dan Buckley. Publisher & President of the Print, Animation & Digital Divisions, Marvel Worldwide, Inc. “We see print and digital product as complementary, not competitive””so we’ve made sure that not only do we have new digital content but also digital products that enhance the printed page. The release of Avengers VS X-Men #1, the biggest story we’ve ever told, is the activation point for the re-evolution of comics as a whole.”
Marvel recently announced that every Marvel Comic would soon be hitting store shelves with codes for free digital versions of the same book. Now with Marvel Infinite, the company plans to truly differentiate the reading experience of the paper version and the interactive digital experience. The Infinite versions of comics appear to even be different than the standard digital comic.
The first Infinite comic to be available will of course be Avengers VS X-Men #1 and it will be available for free via the redemption code that comes with the print version or included with the purchase of the digital version. Other than the fact that the Infinite comics will take advantage of tablet technology while staying true to (the print) medium’s greatest strengths the press release doesn’t offer up specifics on what we can expect. Basically these books are created from the ground up with the tablet in mind rather than created for print then converted to the tablet.
“We call these Marvel Infinite Comics because the storytelling possibilities are, frankly, infinite. Writers and artists now have a whole host of new tools at their disposal to redefine the comic book medium,” said Alonso. “Current tablets and smartphones, along with comiXology’s Guided View technology, allow us to develop new, full length stories for a different medium that are very much truly comics””but experienced by readers in a way no other major company has ever executed.”
The next prong of Marvel’s attack on the digital medium involves a free app called Marvel AR is a free app that will offer augmented reality experiences to the digital comics that are compatible with the app. Some examples of the enhancements to come that have been shared by Marvel include additional story elements, behind the scenes footage, and commentaries.
“Marvel AR is a perfect example of how digital innovation not only gives added value to print comics, but also brings a delivers an entirely new reading experience,” explained Phillips. “Now fans will have access to more behind-the-scenes material from their favorite Marvel products than ever before””and it’s all absolutely free.”
A friend of mine that owns a comic book shop has complained that digital comics should be more than just scans of paper comics. He has said over and over that the digital medium should offer something different than what we already get from printed books. Well Mark, is this what you were looking for? It certainly seems that Marvel is trying to innovate and push the medium and that’s a great thing. The only scary part comes from the idea that the digital space is the canvas that artists will create on. What effect will that new approach have on the paper comics? Years back Marvel decided that the art in their books should feel more cinematic. With a filmic approach to the art, the transition from film to comic or vice versa would be painless. Love it or hate it, that new paradigm changed the look of Marvel comic books in a major way. So what’s coming next?