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Marvel to unleash digital comic books on iTunes


Marvel Entertainment will help lead the way in exploring a brand-new frontier for content on the iTunes Store. Coming soon to an iPhone or iPod near you: motion comics.

Marvel made the announcement at this week's New York Comic Con.

"Watch and hear your favorite comics, authors and artists come alive," Marvel says on its Motion Comics webpage, where fans can find a preview trailer. "Remaining true to the heritage of panel-by-panel graphic storytelling, boasting groundbreaking graphics, sensational soundscapes and, of course, the explosiveness of the Mighty Marvel Universe, here comes the all-new, all-awesome Marvel Motion!"

The series will launch with two titles from some of the art form's biggest names. Astonishing X-Men will debut from Joss Whedon and John Cassaday, while Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev will weave readers into the new story of Spider-Woman.

Though the X-Men: Evolution animated series is already available on iTunes, these "motion comics" will represent an all-new format combining print, animation, audio, and more.

Voice actors will speak the dialogue, rendering speech bubbles obsolete. While the images won't be fully animated like what one might find in an animated TV show, Marvel believes it will be an engrossing experience for the viewer.

"It became very, very evident to me that as technology moves forward, there will come a day where we'll be able to not just create animation based upon our comic books and our characters and stories that we've told, but there will come a time when eventually we'll be able to take existing comic art, the flat, static art, and be able to animate it," said Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada. "We can put out a product that is not quite a comic book and not quite animation, [but] a wonderful hybrid that incorporates all of our great talents."

The company is working with Neal Adams and Continuity Studios in order to make the concept a reality, according to Geeks of Doom. The panels of the story will contain animated scenes, although as of now it is unknown how users will navigate through them. More original content will be coming in the future, according to Ultimate Spider-Man creator Bendis.

"With [any] new medium comes a new storytelling language," he said. "It's more than just taking the images and moving them around the screen. There's a new storytelling language that's emerging every time we work on it and we're really excited for where that takes us."

According to a story on the Marvel website, Spider-Woman was born during the same brainstorm sessions that produced the entire concept, making it the first story to be completely created exclusively as a motion comic. Plans are in place to bring it to graphic novels later, but for now motion is the focus.

"[We thought] let's try to do something original and brand new that perhaps is constructed for the motion comic, instead of taking something that's been previously done and trying to animate it," Quesada said.

Marvel hopes the new concept, to be delivered via iTunes,, YouTube, DVD, and/or mobile, will reach both the company's most loyal customers and a sizable number of newcomers.

"I absolutely do think that people that have never read a comic or were [not] interested in comics would be interested in motion comics," Quesada said.

Specific availability dates have not been announced, but Marvel's website promises a launch sometime this spring. Some of Marvel's most well-known characters could also find their way into motion comic form.

"Sure you've seen the origin of Fantastic Four in the movies and in cartoons, but we're giving it to you with Jack Kirby's art, come to life," said Quesada. "That to me, ultimately, is the coolest part of this."