SXSW ’13: Marvel Makes A Huge Digital Splash
Austin, Texas’ big music, film, and interactive media convention, South by South West (or SXSW) kicked off last Friday with a bang. But for comic fans, the real bang came yesterday afternoon when Marvel hosted its House of Ideas panel. There a number of major digital announcements were made for the company, including the answers to their teaser ads involving the 52 scratch marks, Project Gamma, and the large #1. During a panel hosted by Axel Alonso (Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief), Arune Singh (Director of Communications at Marvel), Joshua Shimkin (Marvel’s Director of Worldwide Digital Products & Premium Services), and Peter Phillips (Senior VP & GM for Marvel’s Digital Media Group), Marvel announced new news on their Infinite Comics front, an interesting new project entitled Project Gamma, a web newscast entitled Marvel’s Mightiest Show, an unbelievable promotion of digital comics, and a new mobile way of streaming Marvel Unlimited titles.
Let’s start by talking about Project Gamma. Have you ever wanted a soundtrack for your comics? Sure, Top Cow has made soundtracks based off comics (multiple for their Witchblade series), their have been albums inspired by comics, and writers have come up with lists of music they associate with comics…but what about giving a comic an original score? Sound pretty unique…as well as quite over the top and expensive. But Marvel, looking to stay innovative, believes they have the ability to do so with a little help from Momentum Worldwide and CORD, the composers and producers of such award-winning films as the Harry Potter octalogy, Looper, Drive and The King’s Speech. Project Gamma is designed as an ‘adaptive audio experience’, creating music specific to the events and characters in the comic, but also tailored to the reader’s reading speed. It will make a soundtrack to your comic that fits with how you read your comic. Axel Alonso explains the thought process behind this project by saying “Digital comics in general have been enormously successful for us and the idea of adding audio to the digital comics experience was just something fantastic. And you add that to the graphic fiction content and you add some audio that really matches up with the characters, and you have an amazing experience. It’s not unlike being in a video game, to be honest.”
But how will this audio work you ask? We were curious too, and thankfully Peter Phillips explains, stating “Experiences will differ with Project Gamma in that the music matches up with all reading styles, making it innovative and unique. The music will not speed up as you flip the page. It’s modulated in such a way that whether you’re a fast reader or a slow reader, it will stick with you, it’ll be by your side. This is embedded music to enhance the experience of what you’re already enjoying. And it paces itself to how you’re reading. So that’s really the key. If there’s a piano expected to be on there for 30 seconds and plays music for 30 seconds, after that time is over it’s going to randomize in a way that’s completely intuitive. As you’re flipping back and forth throughout pages, it’s not going to be buffering; the audio will enhance that experience and take you back to where you were. You’re not going to hear any break in the music.”
Phillips adds that the music will also be somewhat linked to the characters in the comics. “You may see different pieces sort of mixed and matched”, Phillips says. “Let’s say for example that you’ve got Nova in a story, and Nova’s got a musical piece that really matches up well with him and his character and then you see Nova in another story; you may hear something that you recognize again from Nova in a different book. What we are trying to do is make music match the feel of our stories and characters, so that means that there could be some repetition from book to book, but not in a way that it’s the same entire piece as when you read a different book”. Check out the project’s visual teaser from SXSW below:
So when can you enjoy this audio addition to your digital comics? Marvel says Project Gamma will be launching as part of a Marvel event later this year. The event will be announced soon, likely having something to do with Marvel’s big cosmic event coming out later this year, and Project Gamma will be attached early on to stories that lend themselves to music. “Part of what’s exciting about this for us is that we really have to match it up and see how it will enhance the story”, Alonso says. “Does every single book and character make sense with music? Maybe. [Ultimately] we are going to go with the biggest, most marquee, most important books, absolutely.”
But the thing many people wanted to know from the panel was what were these teasers of the 52 scratch marks and large #1 ads? Let’s first address the 52 scratch marks. No, it is not Marvel’s answer to the 52. In fact, let’s all remember what first gave DC their iconic number: the number of weeks in a year, which happens to be 52. DC started their 52 trend with a 52-issue weekly maxiseries that came out over one year. Now Marvel is looking to do similar through a more digital means. So far the only taste fans have had for Marvel’s Infinite Comics has been through Avengers Vs X-men and last week’s Guardians of the Galaxy digital comic. That’s all about to change as this year Marvel offers 4 characters a weekly 13-part Marvel Infinity storyline. Starting this July 9th, Wolverine (showing many of you guessed right about who made those 52 scratches) will be the first character to get a 13-part Infinite comic. Entitled Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted, the series will come out every Tuesday, written by Jason Aaron (Scalped, Thor: God of Thunder) and Jason Latour (Winter Soldier, Invincible), and featuring art by Paco Diaz (X-treme X-men, Nightwing). This is of course designed to sync up with the summer release of Marvel Studio’s Wolverine 2 (hitting US theaters on July 26th), and is being toted as the perfect jumping on point for new Wolverine fans, considering its Asian setting.
So far in the AvX books we’ve seen some interesting use of the digital comic technology, and Alonso tells fans that they should expect more as time goes on, stating “We’re getting more and more sophisticated as we move along. We see a progress with each venture, and an expanding of capabilities. The technology improves and allows us to do things that we weren’t able to do before.” Each character’s 13-part tale is also going to have a writer regularly attached to the character. Jason Aaron previously wrote for the Wolverine on-going series during it’s 4th volume and currently writes Wolverine and the X-men. Alonso shares that “The reason we’ll be involving the monthly writer of each of these comic book stories we’re going to be telling through Infinite is that they’re all part of continuity. You know it’s as relevant to that particular character as anything you’ll find on the comic book stands that Wednesday”. Alonso considers this part of the evolution of comics, citing how they once started in horizontal strips and now expand with different page designs and layouts. With a digital format the options certainly could be limitless, though there is a question of when comics blur the line into animation. Well Marvel has not announced the remaining 3 characters to be given digital Marvel Infinite stories, expect announcements soon. Below is Marvel’s SXSW very basic explanation of Marvel Infinite comics using some stunning art from the upcoming Wolverine: Japan’s Most Wanted digital comic.
Now with all this huge digital comic news, Marvel needs to promote their digital releases even more, convincing countless fans of the old paper and ink style comics to at least try out this digital venture by putting the Marvel app on their phone. That is where Marvels huge #1 teaser comes into play in a rather surprising promotion. Working alongside Comixology, the well known and respected digital comic company that helps manage the Marvel digital comics app, Marvel will be giving away over 700 #1 issues of Marvel titles. Yes, that is 700 FREE COMICS you can download if you have Comixology or the Marvel digital app. There’s only one catch, the issues are only free if you download them between Sunday, March 10th and 11PM EST on Tuesday, March 12th. It’s a small window that has already blacked out both Comixology and the Marvel digital store at the moment. That said, hopefully both will be back online soon.
“This is the perfect way to show everyone how much we believe in our material by letting them try the first issues for free, because we’re sure once they start, they won’t stop,” says Marvel SVP – Sales, Digital & Print David Gabriel. “Week in and week out we ask fans to come check out our new releases—both in print and digitally—with the promise that we’ll bring them the best comics made by the best talent and managed by the best editorial team in the industry. Now, existing and news fans [alike] can discover the heroes they know and love and learn about new ones all at the same time.” The free #1 issues will include many one-shots and all of the Marvel Now titles. It’s absolutely worth checking out if you’re curious about Marvel comics or just a fan who wouldn’t mind reading some titles digitally.
Now the three teaser items weren’t all there was to the SXSW panel. Marvel also announced some other great digital things, such as new Marvel video content as part of their Marvel Original Video initiative. Set to produce new digital video content that will focus on everything from behind-the-scenes looks at the inner workings of Marvel to reality programming, news, and documentaries, the first major announcement was Earth’s Mightiest Show. Starring Blair Butler of G4′s Attack of the Show, Earth’s Mightiest Show will be a weekly newscast of everything Marvel. But don’t worry, fans of Marvel’s existing original series, “The Watcher” and “Marvel Super Heroes: What The–?!,” will be pleased to know that they will still continue and be receiving an upgrade. As for Earth’s Mightiest Show? While there is no specified date yet for when the show will air, you can check out a teaser for it below.
Marvel also talked about their digital streaming comic service, Marvel Unlimited, which allows fans to read an unlimited number of select Marvel back issues for a low monthly cost. Started back in 2007, Marvel Unlimited offers fans over 13,000 of Marvel’s greatest comics and continues to grow each and every week, comprising the most comprehensive digital comics library offered by any comics publisher. Previously, however, the Marvel Unlimited service was limited to computers and tablets that could handle running flash through browsers. But thanks to fan suggestions Marvel has changed that to now expand it’s service on to mobile devices. The new Marvel Unlimited works on almost all iOS mobile devices and soon will be available on Android devices as well. The service will provide a seamless access via mobile device or web-browser, so readers may not only stream content while connected to the Internet, but also read a select amount of comics offline via the app.
Finally, the panel also discussed the success of their Marvel AR app, which allows for augmented reality interaction with select Marvel comics. This great function allows fans to view trailers for the comics on store shelves by aiming their phone at covers to the new issues, as well as hear and see interviews with the creators, celebrities, various specialists, and check out behind the scenes looks at the comic’s artwork. We previously reviewed the app here and here, and its use has only been improved by Marvel since. You can view their short SXSW teaser about the app below.
No comments yet.
about 4 hours ago - No comments
This weekend is FanimeCon’s 20th anniversary, so come celebrate with us and tons of other anime and video game fans at San Jose’s great convention center. There you can partake in one of the best anime cons on the west coast, with its large video game room, artist alley, anime swap meet, dealer’s hall, and More >
about 1 day ago - No comments
Lucasfilm announced yesterday that production has begun on the next Star Wars animated series, titled Star Wars Rebels, and will be set between Episodes III and IV. In the 19 years between the events of these films we know that the Empire continued its meteoric rise, Vader began hunting down the remaining Jedi that had More >
about 2 days ago - No comments
Yesterday we had a teaser that told us when we could expect the PS4′s reveal. Today we actually got a reveal of Microsoft’s newest console, the Xbox One. Long spoken of as the Xbox720 (360×2), the title, visual, and select specs have finally been confirmed. But while we now have visuals of what many fans More >
about 2 days ago - No comments
Batman’s Arkham Origins trailer is finally here, as promised back on Thursday. The trailer reminds me of one we got a few years back, featuring Batman fighting off Tyger Guards and Doctor strange. This one, however, has Batman, Deathstroke, Deadshot, and Black Mask all appearing as rather amazingly badass. The game releases October 25th of More >
about 2 days ago - No comments
While some of the specs for the PS4 are already out, no one really knows the the next gen Playstation console from Sony will actually look like. But today a teaser trailer was released, giving us a date for when we can first see the brand new PS4. This seems to be a trend these More >
about 3 days ago - No comments
The major comic companies get enough reviews and press, it’s time for the creator-owned and indie series to get some love and judgment. Indie review takes up-and-coming indie and creator-owned series and puts them through the review process so you can confidently support the best of the small press and passion driven projects in the More >
about 5 days ago - No comments
Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one—the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it’s left to the Girl to take up the More >
about 6 days ago - No comments
The newest game in the Batman: Arkham line from DC Comics, Warner Bros Interactive, and Rocksteady Studios is set for release this Fall. Well, that is except for the fact that Rocksteady Studios will not be involved in this round of Arkham fun, as Warner Bros has decided to bring the game to their in-house studio More >
about 1 week ago - No comments
Eaglemoss Collections has long been known for their awesome subscription based comic paraphernalia. Whether it is chess pieces or model cars, the company puts out some high quality and awesome comic products at very reasonable prices. But now the company seems to be dealing in facts and secrets as if they were a real life More >
about 1 week ago - No comments
ABC and Marvel are just pushing out the incredible new content to promote their upcoming TV series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Today they updated their brand new youtube account with 2 videos. One is a 7 second clip that performed as a small teaser 2 hours before this full trailer giving us a proper look at More >