Archive for Digital Comic News
The motion-comics platform Madefire announced a new addition to its lineup today: Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell. The first episode is available to read on their site, alongside Madefire’s motion-comics versions of Transformers, My Little Pony, and Star Trek comics.
Madefire has been around since 2011, and over the past year it has made several important strides, signing with Deviantart, a major social media platform for artists, to provide a web reader and inking deals with IDW, BOOM! Studios, ITV, and Top Cow to transform their properties into motion comics. Adding Dark Horse brings in another high-profile publisher, and one with an impressive array of content. Although no other titles were announced today, Dark Horse does have a deep inventory of licensed and original comics, including many game tie-ins, that would be a natural fit for a platform like Madefire.
Many of the motion-comics techniques Madefire uses on its Motion Books platform will be familiar to readers of Thrillbent and other digital-first comics: Rack focus, panning, panel-by-panel reveals, word balloons dropping in with a swipe or a click. Madefire also incorporates sound, adding ominous background music for the Hellboy comic, for example.
The comics are available on Madefire’s iOS app and on Deviantart and most are priced at $1.99 per episode (as I noted when I reviewed Madefire’s My Little Pony motion comic, the episodes are half of a standard comic issue). The platform also carries original comics, many of which are free, and as part of the Deviantart deal it has plans to open up its authoring tools to Deviantart users.
You can see a preview of the Hellboy in Hell motion comic on the Madefire site.
Marvel has just announced that they are now digitally distributing a monthly preview list for their Marvel NOW! line of comics. It is a FREE download available now in the Marvel Comics app for iOS and Android devices and in the Marvel Comics webstore!
The new monthly previews for the Marvel NOW! universe features sneak peeks of Avengers World #1, All-New Invaders #1, Black Widow #1, All-New X-Factor #1, Thunderbolts 20.NOW, All-New X-Men 22.NOW and Savage Wolverine 14.NOW – All-New Marvel NOW! Previews #1 features some of the industry’s top creators tackling some of the Marvel Universe’s biggest characters!
So what exactly is Marvel NOW? It is basically a rebrand of several ongoing comic books that debuted in October 2012 with new #1 issues. The relaunch also included some new titles, including Uncanny Avengers and All-New X-Men. Described as a shifting of the Marvel Universe following the conclusion of the Avengers vs. X-Men storyline, Marvel NOW! entails changes to both the publishing format and the fictional universe to attract new readers. Publishing changes include new creative teams for each of the titles and the in-universe changes include changes to character designs and new storylines. It is not exactly the Ultimates, but quite different from the normal Marvel universe.
Early last month, Netflix announced that it will develop five miniseries based on Marvel comics: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist will each get their own miniseries, then they will all come together in The Defenders. Last week, the news broke that Twilight writer Melissa Rosenberg will be the writer and executive producer of the Jessica Jones miniseries; she had previously developed a series for ABC based on the character, but that project never came to fruition.
Jessica Jones is an intriguing character. She went to high school with Peter Parker and was there when he was bitten by the radioactive spider that turned him into Spider-Man. Shortly after that, she was in a car accident in which her family was killed and she was exposed to radioactive chemicals, which gave her her powers. In her first comic series, Alias, which is not available digitally, she took the name Jewel and became a costumed superhero, but things did not work out well, and she left to become a private investigator.
Jessica takes a prominent role in the series The Pulse, which is available as part of the Marvel Unlimited subscription service but not on comiXology (except for issue #10, which is a tie-in to the House of M event). As the series begins, she is the girlfriend of superhero Luke Cage and is expecting his child. Looking for a steady income and health insurance, she takes a job with the Daily Bugle (the same paper where Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, is a photographer) as a sort of consultant, working with reporters Ben Urich and Kat Farrell. There are three story arcs that are a good read on their own: issues 1-5, in which the staff investigates the disappearance of another reporter and ends up unmasking the Green Goblin; issues 11-13, in which Jessica has her baby during rather tumultuous circumstances; and issue 14, the final issue in the series, in which she tells her baby about one other time she tried to be a superhero, but set it aside to protect two children who were left at a crime scene. At the end of this issue, she decides she will marry Luke Cage, who proposed in issue 13. These three story arcs are a great introduction to Jessica and Luke and won’t get you bogged down with other storylines, as the rest of the series crosses over with other Marvel stories.
If you want to see more of Jessica—and Luke—check out The New Avengers, vol. 2, which ran from 2010-2012. In this series, Luke and his superhero compatriots move to the Avengers Mansion, splitting off from the main group, but they are soon drawn into a battle with supernatural forces. In Settle in for a good read, because this series lasts for 34 issues (also available on Marvel Unlimited).
While news is out about the creative team behind the show, nobody has yet said where Jessica will be in her life journey—the series could focus on her Alias days, before she met Luke and had her baby, or it could pick up the storyline later. The course of true love doesn’t always run smooth for Luke and Jessica, so there are a lot of possibilities. Add that to the fact that Jessica is a strong woman who is fiercely devoted to her child, but at the same time has a realistic view of her abilities and the constraints of life as a superhero, and you have the opportunity for a show that really breaks the standard superhero mold. With Rosenberg helming the project, it will be interesting to see what lies in store for Jessica Jones.
Just when you thought there were no new worlds for comiXology to conquer, they show up on a new platform: eBay.
Up till now, eBay has been pretty much a place where you buy physical goods; they allowed sales of a few categories of digital items, but with plenty of restrictions (including the rather odd requirement that ebooks listed in categories other than “Everything Else” have to be sent to the buyer via postal mail).
On December 5, though, they launched eBay Digital Comics, which really looks like a storefront for comiXology: eBay users can look through a selection of comics on the eBay site, but when they pick a comic they are immediately transported to comiXology for the actual purchase. Buyers must have a comiXology account—they can’t buy the comics with their eBay login—and once they buy the comic they can read it in the comiXology apps or on the comiXology website.
Everyone is in business to make money, so it makes sense to look at the costs and benefits to eBay. The risk, it would seem, is the same one that comics shops worry about: That digital sales will cannibalize print sales. Since eBay has dealt only in hard copies right now, that’s a reasonable concern. On the other hand, there is money to be made in digital comics. But with comiXology handling the sales, how would that work? Presumably eBay is getting a cut of sales, as it would if it were a brick-and-mortar retailer using a comiXology digital storefront.
The current setup is a little puzzling, though, because the digital comics only seem to appear in eBay’s dedicated digital comics storefront. One reason to put comics on eBay is because it’s a site that a huge number of people visit and browse every day. But the comics seem to be in only one place; they don’t come up in searches on titles like “Guardians of the Galaxy,” and even adding “digital comic” to the search terms doesn’t bring up the comiXology comics. That does reduce the risk of digital sales detracting from hard-copy sales, but at the same time it reduces the likelihood of digital sales as well.
The storefront itself seems to have a limited number of comics, including The Walking Dead, X-Men, some collected editions, and this week’s new comics. Publishers represented include Marvel, BOOM! Studios, IDW, and Image. I didn’t see any DC comics or collections there.
Right now, though, this looks like like comics without a country. If the digital comics don’t show up in product searches, the vast eBay-using public won’t run across them. Users can got to the digital storefront, but if they are going to do that, they might as well go to the comiXology storefront. The comics aren’t any cheaper on eBay (alas!), there’s an extra login involved, and the standard eBay safeguards and mechanisms aren’t there, because readers are actually buying the comics via comiXology, not eBay.
It’s early days yet, so maybe these things will change. Leena Rao of TechCrunch says this is a limited beta test, so maybe we will see the digital comics service become better integrated into eBay. If that happens, it could be a powerful tool, bringing potentially millions of new readers to digital comics.
The Captain America sequel “The Winter Soldier” is poised to hit movie theaters March 26 2014. The movie will be about Steve Rogers after the first Avengers movie and his role in the Marvel cinematic universe. What digital graphic novels are essential reading and who exactly is the Winter Soldier? We dive deep into the issue and give you the low-down.
The Marvel cinematic universe is quite different from the other timelines for digital comics published on a monthly basis. Marvel comics, the Ultimates and other franchises all do a different spin on the same major characters and story lines. When it comes to the line of movies like The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor and others, it is officially dubbed Earth-199999.
In the Captain America movie his good buddy James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was one of Steve Rogers old friends, whom was recruited into his strike force to go after the Red Skull. Rogers and his team successfully sabotage various HYDRA operations. The team later assaults a train carrying Zola, the main scientist. Zola is captured, but Barnes falls from the train to his apparent death.
The Winter Solider will tell the tale of General Vasily Karpov finding Bucky’s cold-preserved body missing one arm. Bucky is revived in Moscow, but suffers brain damage with amnesia as a result of the explosion. Scientists then attach a bionic arm to him to give him added strength. He is programmed to be a Soviet assassin for Department X, under the code name the Winter Soldier, he is sent on covert wetworks missions, i.e., missions involving assassination, becoming increasingly ruthless and efficient as he kills in the name of the state. While a Soviet agent, he also has a brief relationship with The Black Widow, who was also mind programmed to be an assassin at the time. In the recent Avengers film Hawkeye makes reference to having his mind torn asunder by Loki and Black Window mentioned she knows how he feels.
In order to have his loyalty the Winter Soldier was kept in cryostasis, so between missions he is kept from aging. He does various missions over the years, leading to the terrorist attack that puts him back on Shields radar.
If you want to get a firm understanding of all the different events leading up to the movie, you want to get your hands on the digital or normal graphic novels. You would be hard pressed to find the original Avengers comic book #4, which is the first appearance of Captain America and Bucky. About the best you can do is buy the The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1, which has the first 100 issues of the Avengers. It is not available as a digital edition so you will have to spend around $72.00 on Amazon. The best comic you could find, written in the modern times was the retelling of the Winter Solider by luminary Ed Brubaker, entitled Captain America, Vol. 1: Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection. There are three different graphic novels in the collection and even goes into The Black Window, essential stuff. Comixology has the later editions you can purchase for around $10.00 each, so it is fairly economical. Comixology has Winter Soldier Vol. 1: The Longest Winter, Winter Soldier Vol. 2: Broken Arrow and Winter Soldier Vol. 3: Black Widow Hunt.
In an interesting trivia note, Bucky’s death has also been used to explain why the Marvel Universe has very few kid sidekicks, as no responsible hero wanted to endanger a minor in similar fashion. Stan Lee also harbored a well-known dislike for boy sidekicks in general. So, it could be posited that when Captain America was revived in the Silver Age, Stan Lee chose not to bring back Bucky. It was not until the last decade that he was brought back as a recurring character.
Image Comics elbows DC aside in this week’s comiXology chart, with a bit of help from a half-price sale, but Kindle readers are bullish on DC’s new 52 graphic novels.
1. The Walking Dead #117
2. Saga #16
3. Infinity #6
4. All New X-Men #19
5. Hawkeye #14
6. New Avengers, vol. 3 #12
7. Superior Spider-Man #22
8. Uncanny Avengers #14
9. Black Science #1
10. Saga, vol. 2
There are a couple of interesting things going on with comiXology’s best-seller list this week. The first nine titles are all new comics that came out this week, but number 10 is one of those Image graphic novels that was on sale over the weekend (the sale lasts till midnight on Monday, so you still have time to grab it). Further down the list, the first volume of Saga is at number 11, and another sale title, the Avengers vs. X-Men collected edition (a steal at $19.99) is at number 14.
The other thing that is truly striking is that there isn’t a single DC comic in the top ten; the highest ranked comic as of this writing is Damian: Son of Batman #4, at number 13. There were four Image titles (only one of which can be explained by the sale) and six Marvel titles.
1. The Sandman, vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes
2. Justice League, vol. 1: Origin
3. Batman, vol. 1: The Court of Owls
4. The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel
5. The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
6. Ultimate Comics Wolverine vs. Hulk
7. Batman and Robin, vol. 1: Born to Kill
8. The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes
9. The Sandman: Overture #1
10. Batman: The Dark Knight, vol. 1: Knight Terrors
The Kindle top ten, on the other hand, is dominated by DC, with six titles, including the graphic novels that were on sale a few weeks ago and the first issue of Neil Gaiman’s new Sandman comic. That Ultimate Comics Wolverine vs. Hulk graphic novel is back at its regular price as well, after being on sale for weeks.
1. The Sandman: Overture #1
2. Naruto, vol. 63
3. Forever Evil #3
4. It’s a Dog’s Life, Snoopy
5. Sandman #1
6. The World According to Lucy
7. Snoopy at the Bat
8. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
9. Big Nate: Game On
10. Injustice: Gods Among Us #2
The top ten paid books for Nook are exactly the same as last week’s list, which was almost identical to the lists for the previous two weeks. The free books changed a bit, as folks took advantage of DC’s free digital-first comics—the top comic overall was Smallville #1. But either no one is buying comics for the Nook or they are buying them in exactly the same proportions week after week. Very curious.
1. The Walking Dead #117
2. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #13
3. The Walking Dead, vol. 19
4. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #12
5. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #2
6. The Walking Dead, vol. 1
7. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #1
8. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #3
9. The Walking Dead #116
10. Lady Mechanika #0
The iBooks top ten also looks a lot like last week’s list, except that everything has been squeezed out by The Walking Dead and My Little Pony, the strange bedfellows of the iBookstore—and that Lady Mechanika comic, which is two years old, has mysteriously popped up in the #10 slot.
Comics fans tend to have strong feelings about the types of comics they like, and sometimes it can be hard to buy for them because it seems like they have everything. Never fear! Here’s the first part of our Digital Comics Gift Guide, featuring an array of gifts for comics fans who have everything, as well as those who are just getting started.
Gift Cards and Gift Comics
iTunes, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble gift cards will buy comics for iOS apps and iBooks, Kindle, and Nook, respectively, but comiXology is now offering gift cards as well. In addition, if you know a particular comic is on someone’s wish list, you can get it as a gift on comiXology or Viz Manga website: Just click on the gift-box icon next to the comic and they will take you through the steps from there.
For Superhero Fans
If you know someone who like to binge on comics, reading full runs of a story arc or a character at a time, a subscription to Marvel Unlimited will allow them to read thousands of comics without having to purchase and download each one. The library includes over 10,000 Marvel comics, starting from the very first issue and going up to as recently as six months ago, so it’s a great gift for newbies who want to catch up on 70 years of continuity as well as nostalgia freaks who want to read all the comics they had as a kid (and their mother threw away). This service was a bit clunky until they came out with an iOS app this year, which makes for a much more pleasant reading experience than flipping through the comics in a web browser and allows the user to download up to six issues at a time. Marvel makes gift-giving easy with a gift subscription option; the basic price is $69 for 12 months, and the Marvel Unlimited Plus package, which includes a shortbox, a variant print comic, and a figure, is $99.
Here’s something similar for kids (and kids at heart): The Archie Unlimited service offers over 4,000 Archie comics, with a selection that is growing every week. Right now it’s only available as part of their iOS app, but they plan to expand to other platforms soon.
For Manga Fans
Manga readers are in a class by themselves. Crunchyroll has just launched a new manga service that allows readers unlimited access to streaming manga—right now there are only 12 titles, but the selection includes Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail, as well as Ken Akamatsu’s new series UQ Holder, and more series are on the way. The manga-only premium service is $4.95 a month, and Crunchyroll offers various other bundles, including anime, drama, and discounts on merchandise. They have both iOS and Android apps.
The weekly digital magazine Shonen Jump brings the latest chapters of some of the world’s most popular manga, including Naruto and One Piece, to the small screen; new chapters are published in Shonen Jump the same week they come out in Japan. A year’s subscription (48 issues) is $25.99.
Sparkler Monthly is a digital magazine of manga-style stories from the U.S. and Canada, aimed at teenage girls and young women (shoujo manga, for those in the know). The lineup includes Jen Lee Quick’s Off*Beat, which was originally published by Tokyopop. Gift subscriptions start at $5 for one month.
Marvel Comics have been around for 70 years, and during that time their universe of characters has been steadily growing and evolving; in a recent talk, Marvel vp of web and application development Peter Olson sketched out the dimensions: over 8,000 named characters, written and illustrated by 5,000 creators, appearing in 30,000 comics, 32 movies, and over 30 television shows. The very richness of the Marvel universe, however, is also the greatest barrier to entry for many people: So many characters, constantly changing not only over time but also across different titles—Spider-Man used to be Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man comics (and he still is in the newspaper comic strip) but now the former villain Otto Octavius has taken him over in Superior Spider-Man, while Miles Morales wears the webs in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man. Captain America was Steve Rogers, then he died and his sidekick Bucky Barnes took over, except that in the movie Captain America was Steve Rogers again. Like they say on Facebook, it’s complicated.
That’s a barrier for new readers. The movies based on Marvel characters are among the top grossers at the box office, but it’s pretty much impossible for someone who has just seen the Avengers movie to pick up an Avengers comic and start reading. That’s the problem that Olsen is working on: Creating a massive data map of all Marvel characters.
Right now, Wikipedia is the confused reader’s best friend, and if the article is up to date, it will give a pretty good sense of who the character is and what changes it has been through. But that’s a one-dimensional view. The beauty of Olsen’s database is that it maps out the characters and their relationships to one another, the types of stories, even the styles of the creators. That will allow readers not only to learn who the characters are, across time and different storylines, but also to find more comics that they will like:
“Instead of waiting for Amazon-style “users also bought” data suggestions, Marvel wants to track relationships within its vast library. Like the teen superhero angle of Runaways? Try Young Avengers. But wait, you just want to see more stories drawn in the style of original Runaways artist Adrian Alphona? The Marvel graph database will find an answer based not only on book similarities but nuanced metadata, like writer or artist style. Better still, it’ll do what the venerable ComicBookDatabase cannot: confidently propose a list of essential story arcs for the new fan.”
And it will recommend movies and other media as well as just comics. This type of graph database has many possible applications outside of comics, but the tangled universe of Marvel continuity is certainly a great place to start.
Stay away from the mall this Black Friday and scoop up some digital deals for yourself—or your friends.
Dark Horse has an amazing deal on Star Wars comics: A megabundle of over 150 single issues for $100. The bundle includes Brian Wood’s Star Wars (set in the world of the original movie), the kid-friendly Clone Wars, all three arcs of The Crimson Empire, and all sorts of Star Wars storylines that Dark Horse has spun out from the originals over the years.
On Cyber Monday, Dark Horse will offer 50% off all comics on its web store only; just enter the promo code dhdcyber2013 when you check out. The sale is December 2 only, from midnight (PST) to midnight.
ComiXology has a couple of sales that should match every taste. If you’re a superhero type, jump on the Avengers vs. X-Men sale, with a ton of single-issue comics for 99 cents each or the collected edition for $19.99 (that’s half price).
The folks who are creating a real buzz in the comics world right now are Image, and comiXology’s Image sale lets you jump on to a bunch of different series with strong characters and original storylines: Saga, Great Pacific, It-Girl and the Atomics, The Manhattan Projects. All highly recommended, all available in graphic novel format, so you get a good chunk of story for $3.99 to $7.99.
I can’t find a direct link, but scroll down comiXology’s sale page and you’ll also find a good sale on comics from Action Labs, a up-and-coming indy publisher. The deal of the day is the first volume of Princeless, their Eisner-nominated all-ages series, for $1.99. That’s a great digital comics gift for any kid who likes adventure and fantasy.
For those who like their manga with a side of anime, Crunchyroll is offering a 12-month all-access pass for $69.99, which is half price. That gets you access to their full range of streaming manga, including Attack on Titan and Fairy Tail, as well as
Image Comics have descended into the Google Play Books store and readers will be able to purchase over 500 single issues and graphic novels. Seminal comics like the Walking Dead and Saga are all available and should be a boon for people who don’t like dealing with Comixology or the Amazon store.
There are a number of incentives kick things off, Image is giving away free issues of The Walking Dead, Saga, Chew, Invincible and Super Dinosaur series to get people downloading and checking the library of content out.
Image has been around since 1992 and has had a number of legendary writers and artists who have published with them. Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, and Marc Silvestri are but a few of the usual suspects. The comic company has developed a fairly loyal following over the years, due to some of the breakout successes like the Walking Dead.
Eric Stephenson from Image said “It’s exciting to bring digital versions of Image Comics titles to the Google Play Store. Our philosophy toward digital content is expanding as the market evolves and grows, and this is just one of many steps we’re taking as we continue to move into the future.”
With the launch of the latest version of its app, Archie Comics is combining two different types of digital comics services: Readers can buy comics one at a time (as they do with comiXology and Comics Plus) or they can subscribe to an “all-you-can-eat” service that allows them to read thousands of comics for a single monthly fee (similar to Marvel Unlimited).
Both of these models have been around for a while, but the twist here is that Archie has put them in a single app (designed and run by iVerse Media). Open up the Archie iOS app and you have two options: Pay $9.99 a month for unlimited access to thousands of comics, or buy the comics one at a time and keep them forever. Right now the Archie Unlimited feature is only available for iOS devices, but iVerse CEO Michael Murphey says an Android app will be coming in a few weeks. We talked to Murphey and Archie CEO Jon Goldwater to get the details on this as well as some of Archie’s other digital plans.
Why did you decide to add Archie Unlimited to the Archie app?
Murphey: Earlier this year, around Comic-Con, we released a 5.0 version of the Archie Comics app. Compared to previous apps, it’s a major redesign. We did a lot of focus group testing with different types of users, including kids and adults. We wanted to go through and find out what can we do to make it easier to access free content, find what you are looking for.
This was one of the things we thought would be a very good value to the consumer. The single purchase, single download model is great, being able to publish comics on the day they are released is great, but when you have a vast back catalog like Archie does, it makes sense to offer an-all-you-can-eat model. Thankfully, Jon and the guys at Archie are very willing to experiment in the digital space. They were able to put it together so everything in the app that’s a year old you can get for one monthly price.
Is this a streaming-only app?
Murphey: You can download up to six issues at a time for offline reading, so if you don’t have a WiFi connection you can still access them.
Why did you decide to include both Archie Unlimited and single purchases in the same app?
Murphey: The great thing about having single purchase comics and Unlimited in the same app is if you are reading a story that is part of the Unlimited program and you move into newer material that is not part of the Unlimited option, you can purchase if you want
Look at a lot of the all-you-can-eat options, for example, Spotify, Netflix, and Amazon Instant. When I was looking at how we wanted to do this for comics, I was looking at how I was interacting with those products, talking to Jon and the guys and bouncing it off them.
With Amazon Instant, I have been watching Doctor Who like crazy this week, because of the 50th anniversary. You can watch it on the subscription service, and then when you get to the newer episodes, you are able to purchase them without leaving the application. With Netflix you have to go to iTunes or somewhere else.
So when I was looking at doing the subscription model, we were looking at these examples. As long as you keep it clear within the app what is what, it’s easy for the user to understand what they get and for us to allow them to purchase what they want without having to go to a separate app. With digital users you have a variety of different consumers. Some want to look at free content, some want to purchase new stuff, some want to dig through the archives for months and months. All should be able to use the application.
What happens to your comics if your subscription ends?
Murphey: If the subscription ends, you keep the ones you have purchased. There are two kinds of shelves: The ones you purchase and the ones that are available in Unlimited. If you go to an Unlimited comic you want to read again, and you have canceled your subscription, a pop-up comes up and you can re-subscribe, or you can purchase it if you just want that book and don’t want to re-subscribe. You also have the option to delete the product if you don’t want it taking up space any more.
What sort of content is on the app?
Murphey: It’s everything that goes back more than 12 months. Every month new stuff is added, going all the way back to the very beginning of Archie.
Do you mean every Archie comic ever made?
Murphey: It’s not every single book.
Goldwater: My vision is to get everything up there. That’s a tremendous number of books, and it takes time. We really haven’t scratched the surface yet.
Murphey: I think there are about 4,000 comics right now you can get inside Unlimited, and that’s both new and classic material. When we add older products they are available for individual purchase but also go into the Unlimited program.
Are there any regional restrictions?
Murphey: No, it’s available worldwide.
What about the Archie Digital product you have now?
Murphey: We still have subscribers to that. We are talking about how we will unify it. The content at archiedigital.com is almost exclusively older, classic material. With Archie Unlimited we have been able to introduce a lot of newer material from the last few years. As we sync the databases, all that new stuff will fly over here, too.
Are you planning to discontinue archiedigital.com?
Murphey: No, we are going to evolve it into the product we are talking about today. Digital has reached the point were we are starting to see the unification of things in different spaces. It’s an evolutionary process as we have to develop these different things and slide them all together.
Are you planning on moving onto any e-book platforms?
Murphey: You are going to see Archie product in the iBookstore in the next couple of weeks. We have several items that we have submitted to them that we are waiting for approval on. One of our goals is being able to get the material out anywhere and everywhere. We are not concerned with things being on our proprietary platform, we are concerned with getting things out to as many spaces as possible.
Will those be single purchases?
Murphey: Yes. Those will be holding to the Apple iBooks business mode.
Last year you released the Red Circle app that allowed subscribers to read the older comics in an Unlimited format and also buy the New Crusaders comics one at a time—so it’s a bit like the new app. What are you doing with that?
Murphey: We learned some great things with the Red Circle app. We quietly released an update that moves us out of the Newsstand and lets us get back into the main area of iTunes. The model there is where the genesis of this idea came from.
What about Sonic the Hedgehog?
Murphey: There are Sonic books in the Archie app, but we have a Sonic Comics app that has been very successful for us. Both Sonic and Mega Man have their own apps. Those apps are currently running the 4.5 version of our system, and we might in future move them to some of these other options.
Would you do a Sonic Unlimited app?
Goldwater: We really haven’t looked into that yet, but everything is on the table. Michael and I need to have that discussion. If it makes economic sense to do it, we would do it. Absolutely.
DC Comics has an early holiday gift for readers: They are giving away the first issues of their digital-first comics all week long, so you can load up your e-reader with Batman, Superman, even the Vampire Diaries.
The official press release says they are giving away one comic per day, but when I checked the DC digital store and the comiXology website this morning, both had all the comics available now, as did the DC and comiXology iOS apps. So you might as well grab ‘em all now, so you’ll have something to read while traveling or recovering from your turkey coma.
Here’s the lineup, with the days in case they go back to doling them out one at a time:
Today: Legends of the Dark Knight #1
Wednesday: Batman ’66 #1
Thursday: The Vampire Diaries #1
Friday: Smallville #1
Saturday: Batman Beyond #1
Sunday: Batman Li’l Gotham #1
Monday: Adventures of Superman #1
The nice thing about these comics (aside from being free) is that you don’t have to be a hard-core superhero fan to enjoy them. DC’s digital-first comics are designed to be accessible to new readers, so the stories are self-contained or very short, and you don’t have to know all about some complicated backstory. It’s like comics were when I was a kid! In fact, Batman ’66 is based on the old Batman TV show that was on when I was a kid, and it has the same goofy humor and over-the-top graphic sensibility that that show had. This comic makes full use of digital-only techniques like having the background of a panel change, or a word balloon drop in, with every swipe. Adventures of Superman is more of a classic comic story, a well crafted, well drawn story of Superman fighting a villain with telekinetic powers. That means we get to see him fly through the air and throw around enormous objects—he even hoists a car into the air, in what may or may not be an homage to the cover of Action Comics #1. Anyway, you can’t go wrong with any of these comics—they all feature talented artists and writers, and hey, the price is right! Just grab ‘em now, before they disappear.
Valiant Entertainment kicked off its latest incarnation last year with four series based on the original Valiant properties (it’s a long story), and this month the company debuted its first digital-first comic, Valiant 8-Bit Adventure: Unity #1.
Unity is Valiant’s first big crossover, and back in September, they put a QR code on the cover of the first issue that led to a little video, done in the retro-gaming style known as 8-bit, which gave a brief introduction to the different characters in the crossover.
Now they are going a step further with a digital-only comic that features several of their characters training for the big battle. It’s a Guided View Native comic, which means it uses comiXology’s Guided View features to create digital-only effects such as word balloons dropping into place and panels popping up when the reader swipes the screen. When you read a regular comic, you go page by page or perhaps panel by panel, but with a Guided View Native comic, the creator can reveal the scene a little at a time.
That technique works quite nicely with this little comic, which features three of the Valiant characters: Livewire, Ninjak, and Eternal Warrior. The conceit is that the three of them are doing a training exercise that’s a video game, so the comic starts out with a fairly realistic style and then shifts into 8-bit when the action begins. The story unfolds exactly like an arcade game—the three characters are searching for three gems, hazards appear out of nowhere, and various types of points are tallied at the top of the screen. While the story is pretty simple, it’s fun to watch the whole thing unfold as if the characters were really in a game (yet able to control themselves). There’s a bit of a twist at the end, and then it goes back to the real-life style. It’s not really necessary to be familiar with the Valiant characters to enjoy this comic; everything you need to know is there, although obviously it’s more fun if you know the characters who are being gently parodied.
With this first comic, Valiant follows DC’s tactic of using a digital-first comic as a story that is not necessary to follow the continuity of their other series and is easily accessible to first-time readers. If the story whets your appetite for more Valiant, comiXology carries all their regular series as well.